2016 Immunization LawA new law went into effect January 1, 2016 requiring California schoolchildren to be fully vaccinated, regardless of their parents’ personal or religious beliefs. The law was implemented beginning July 1, 2016.Students who currently have a valid Personal Belief Exemption on file will be allowed to continue in school until they make a grade span change. A grade span change is considered when a student moves from preschool to TK/K or from 6th grade to 7th grade.
The law no longer permits new immunization exemptions based on personal beliefs for children in child care and public and private schools;Personal belief exemptions in place (from a California school) before January 1, 2016, are no longer valid when a pupil reaches TK, kindergarten or 7th grade.
ARE THERE EXEMPTIONS TO THE NEW LAW?
Yes, there are three: medical, special education and homeschooling or independent study.
- Parents may obtain a written medical exemption for vaccinations for their children from a licensed physician. The reason for the medical exemption may include family medical history.
- A child who has an individualized education program as required under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, will be allowed to obtain special education services regardless of whether the child is vaccinated or not.
- The law states that the vaccination requirements do not apply to students who are enrolled in a home-based private school or an independent study program.
Students in the above categories will still need to provide immunization records to their schools before entry, and schools will still need to report to the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) the immunization status of all students at the existing checkpoints of child care, kindergarten and 7th grade.
WHAT DOES THE NEW VACCINATION LAW SAY?Senate Bill 277 requires California children who attend private or public schools to be fully vaccinated regardless of their parents' personal or religious beliefs.
Private or public child care centers, preschools, elementary schools and secondary schools cannot admit children unless they are immunized with all vaccinations required at specific grade levels.
WHEN DOES THE LAW GO INTO EFFECT?July 1, 2016. Schools are required to verify students' immunization records before the start of kindergarten, transitional kindergarten and seventh grade.
WHAT IS THE DEFINITION OF A "GRADE SPAN?"Grade span is defined as (A) birth to preschool; (B) kindergarten (including transitional kindergarten) and grades 1 through 6; and (C) grades 7 through 12. (Health and Safety Code section 120335(g).)
WILL STUDENTS BE ALLOWED TO ENROLL “CONDITIONALLY” IF THEY HAVE NOT YET COMPLETED THE REQUIRED VACCINATIONS?Yes, students who are current on their vaccinations (meaning they are not yet due for an additional dose) may enroll. School districts already have their own systems for tracking and following up with students who are not fully immunized. Whatever systems districts are currently using will remain in place.
WHAT VACCINATIONS ARE REQUIRED OF UNVACCINATED STUDENTS BEFORE ENTERING 7TH GRADE?As of July 1, 2016, all students entering 7th grade will be required to have all age/grade required vaccines. Please contact the school or www.shotsforschool.org for more information.
WHAT ABOUT CHILDREN WHO CURRENTLY HAVE PERSONAL BELIEF EXEMPTIONS ON FILE?A current student with a personal belief affidavit filed prior to January 1, 2016, will be allowed to remain enrolled in school without being fully immunized until he or she begins the next grade span - kindergarten or 7th grade. Upon beginning the next grade span, the student’s personal belief affidavit will no longer be valid and he or she will need to comply with the grade-level immunization requirements. If it is determined that a child has been exposed to one of the diseases named in the immunization requirements and does not have proof of immunization, the child may be temporarily kept out of school.
WHAT IF I DON'T WANT TO GET MY CHILDREN VACCINATED?You are encouraged to speak to one of the school nurses who can discuss your options with you. You may choose to enroll your children in an independent study program such as, Murrieta Canyon Academy or Learn@Home, where students receive assignments from a teacher and they complete most of the work independently. The bill exempts pupils in home-based private schools and independent study program where students do not receive classroom-based instruction.For more information-please go to www.shotsforschool.org and click on the link for SB 277 or contact your school health office and ask to speak to the school nurse.