The California Senate passed AB 2109, a bill that would require a parent or guardian seeking a personal belief exemption from school immunization requirements to first obtain a document signed by a licensed health care practitioner. AB 2109 was sponsored by SFMS and the CMA, and was authored by Assemblymember Richard Pan, MD.
AB 2109 preserves a parent’s option to exempt their child from immunizations, but ensures that such a decision is an informed one and that the parent is aware of the individual and public health risks of not immunizing their child.
California is one of 20 states that allows for the broad use of personal belief exemptions from immunizations that are required for children to enter school. Currently in California, obtaining a personal belief exemption is simple — parents are only required to sign their name to a two-sentence standard exemption statement on the back of the California School Immunization Record or provide a signed written statement.
Over the past decade, the number of parents in California choosing to exempt their children from school immunization requirements has increased dramatically. The increase in personal belief exemptions and resultant decreases in community immunization rates could have a significant impact in public safety, giving rise to outbreaks of diseases such as measles, mumps and pertussis.
The bill now goes to the governor’s desk for his signature.