Governor Brown Signs Vaccine Bill

July 2015

On Tuesday, June 30, 2015, Governor Jerry Brown signed Senate Bill 277 (“SB 277”) into law, eliminating the “personal belief” exemption from the current mandatory immunization requirements.  Under SB 277, beginning July 1, 2016, except when a child is excused for medical reasons by a licensed physician, public school districts and other educational institutions are prohibited from admitting a child for the first time, or admitting or advancing any student to the seventh-grade, unless the child has been immunized for specific diseases.

The following are the diseases for which immunization must be documented:

  • Diphtheria;
  • Haemophilus influenzae type b;
  • Measles;
  • Mumps;
  • Pertussis (whooping cough);
  • Poliomyelitis;
  • Rubella;
  • Tetanus;
  • Hepatitis B;
  • Varicella (chickenpox); and
  • Any other disease deemed appropriate by the State Department of Public Health, taking into consideration the recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the American Academy of Family Physicians.

Students who filed with the school a letter or affidavit stating personal beliefs opposed to immunization prior to January 1, 2016, may continue to be enrolled until their next grade span.  A “grade span” is defined as: birth to preschool; kindergarten and grades 1 to 6, inclusive, including transitional kindergarten; and grades 7 to 12, inclusive.

Exemptions from vaccinations for medical reasons are permitted if the parent or guardian files with the school “a written statement by a licensed physician to the effect that the physical condition of the child is such, or medical circumstances relating to the child are such, that immunization is not considered safe.” The statement must indicate the specific nature and probable duration of the medical condition or circumstances for which the physician does not recommend immunization. The written statement must include an account of related family medical history.

SB 277 specifies that its provisions do not prohibit a student who qualifies for an individualized education program (“IEP”) from accessing any special education and related services required by his or her IEP.

The new law does not apply to students in a home-based private school or students enrolled in an independent study program who do not receive classroom-based instruction.

As school districts prepare for SB 277 to take effect on July 1, 2016, we recommend that you review the following to ensure compliance with the new law:

  • Board Policies and Administrative Regulations
  • Pre-K, Kindergarten, and New Student Registration Materials
  • Annual Parent Notifications
  • On-line Media Information

Due to the high profile nature of SB 277, we recommend that school district administrators and governing board members be prepared to respond to inquiries from community members on the requirements of SB 277.  Additionally, if SB 277 is addressed during public meetings (for example, if board policies regarding student immunizations are amended), the governing board should anticipate significant community involvement.

F3 will keep you posted on any official guidance that may be forthcoming on this important new law.  If you have any questions regarding SB 277, or if you require assistance reviewing school district policies and notifications regarding student immunizations, please call one of our six offices.

If you have any questions regarding this matter, please call one of our six offices.

F3 NewsFlash prepared by Kerrie E. McNallly and John W. Norlin.
Kerrie is a Partner in the Los Angeles office.
John is Special Counsel in the F3 San Diego office.

This F3 NewsFlash is a summary only and not legal advice.  We recommend that you consult with legal counsel to determine how this legal development may apply to your specific facts and circumstances.  Information on a free NewsFlash subscription can be found at www.f3law.com.

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© 2015 Fagen Friedman & Fulfrost, LLP

All rights reserved, except that the Managing Partner of Fagen Friedman & Fulfrost, LLP hereby grants permission to any client of Fagen Friedman & Fulfrost, LLP to use, reproduce and distribute this NewsFlash intact and solely for the internal, noncommercial purposes of such client.

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