California Senate Passes SB 277, Throws in ‘Grandfather Clause’

California Senate Passes SB 277, Throws in ‘Grandfather Clause’

The California Senate passed the controversial vaccine bill, dubbed Senate Bill 277, on Thursday, May 14, amid enough resentment from parents who took to the streets and rammed into committee hearings, to testify against the bill.

The SB277, introduced by Democratic Sen. Richard Pan, of Sacramento and Ben Allen, of Santa Monica, was passed after almost an hour of intense discussions among senators, who voted the bill 25-10. Next, its future lies in the hands of the state assembly, from where it will go to the governor's desk, for the final verdict.

The bill if signed into a law, would make California one of only three states, after Mississippi and West Virginia, that would not allow personal or religious exemptions when it came to infant immunization. It would require every child to be vaccinated for such diseases as measles and polio, before entering kindergarten. Unvaccinated children, who do not have a medical exemption, would have to study at home or in organized, private home-schooling groups.

However, the authors of the bill are considering the ‘Grandfather Clause’, which is a significant compromise of the original terms. This has been thought of to appease the agitating parents and giving little room to their supposed ‘personal beliefs’. This clause, which is yet to be introduced into the bill, would mean that over 13,000 children, who have had no vaccinations by first grade, would not have to get the vaccine until they enter seventh grade. In addition, nearly 10,000 seventh-graders who until date are not fully vaccinated, may be able to avoid future shots because the state does not always require them after that grade.

The present bill came into being, at the back of last year’s measles outbreak at Disneyland, which sickened 136 Californians. Now, its future would be decided by Governor Jerry Brown, who has signaled his support, though not overtly.

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