Vaccinations: Personal Belief is not an Excuse, and California is Doing Something about it


Recently in class we have been talking about vaccinations and if they are worth the risk. Last year in Disneyland, 111 people were infected by the measles virus when it spread throughout the theme park. Most of these people were not vaccinated, even though the measles vaccine has been available since 1968. Since then, Californians have been pushing to ban vaccination opt- out due to personal and religious beliefs.

Dr. Richard Pan, a California State Senator (D), was named a hero by TIME Magazine for his work to provide a safe environment for school children. Pan’s bill, which was prompted by the measles outbreak at Disneyland, was signed into law under the name SB 277. This bill requires children to get all of their vaccinations, in order to create a safer learning environment for those kids who cannot be vaccinated for medical purposes.

As of June 30, 2015, California passed SB 277 into law, and it will take affect on July 1, 2016. With this law, California tykes are required to have their vaccination record in full when they enter kindergarten and seventh grade. If it isn’t  up to date- they will be banned from all public and private schools. People who chose not to vaccinate their child have the option of homeschooling their child or doing independent studies at the public schools. Now, “personal belief” is not a good enough reason for children to not be vaccinated, children must have a specific medical condition that prevents them from getting vaccinated.

California is the state with the most measles cases so far in 2015 and it is also one of the 17 states that still has personal belief laws, but it is the first state to get rid of opting out of vaccinations for religious beliefs. Personal belief laws has taken a toll on California in the past, when 10 children died of whooping cough. A study done on this topic showed that many cases of whooping cough came from those children who were not vaccinated due to “personal belief.” Other children were left to suffer because they were exempt from being vaccinated either because of medical reasons. The case broke in the first place because not enough children were vaccinated to create herd immunity, which occurs when enough of the population is vaccinated so the rest of the non-vaccinated population is safe. (measles is so highly contagious that 90-95% of the population must be vaccinated in order to generate immunity, while whooping cough requires about 94% ).

Although these numbers are relatively high, Dr. Pan says that children must be safe in school, and among the Californian school population, there should be close to 100% immunity.

Opponents of SB277, including an anti-SB277 organization that took the URL of, say that this law violates children’s constitutional right to receive an education.

Another complaint is that this law violates religious freedoms. According to this website, MMR vaccines contain the cells of aborted babies, and those against abortion should therefore be against the MMR vaccine. Other religious protests include: people who think that God made their bodies to be able to protect them naturally and that vaccines do not help with their health, and that unless it is the religious belief of a person that God punishes non-vaccinators, it is a step over religious boundaries to claim that every child must be vaccinated.

This site went on to harp on the cliche that vaccines kill and injure an uncountable number of people a year, and that a government that is powerful enough to force people to get vaccinations that could harm them has too much control.

Most of these complaints are easily arguable. Vaccines obviously help the health of people, since a vaccine is what eradicated polio. Secondly, there is no merit to whether your religious belief allows you to get vaccinated or not. If religious belief is what the government based all of its laws on, I’m sure many people would have the belief that paying your taxes got you punished by God. And as for vaccines harming people, as we went over in class, you are much more likely to get killed in a car accident than you are from getting a vaccine.

California’s new law is something that the rest of America should adopt. For the greater good of the rest of the children in contact with those who are not vaccinated, as well as for the greater good of the community as a whole, vaccinations can help immensely with children remaining healthy.



3 thoughts on “Vaccinations: Personal Belief is not an Excuse, and California is Doing Something about it

  1. Jada Baity

    I agree that parents need to be required by law to get their kids vaccinated against deadly diseases such as the ones you mentioned in your post. I think that all of the attempts to reverse this proposed law are invalid. California is not taking away a child’s constitutional right to an education. They are simply asking that certain requirements be met before they offer an education to the children involved.A survey preformed by MetLife in 2006 showed that educators believed that parents and the control they wanted over their children proved to be the biggest obstacle they had to deal with when it came to trying to maintain classroom control. I think that this new Californian bill, which goes against parental control, is the main hurdle to get over for California lawmakers. I can understand why a parent wants to be able to have a say in the health decisions concerning their chid. But when your decisions have the potential to negatively effect another child’s health, that is when there needs to be an intervention. Great post. I think a lot more people need to be aware of this newest phenomenon in health laws.

  2. Caroline Schablin Mcfadden

    This blog is very well written and I also like how you narrowed down a class topic. Taylor’s point about the religious beliefs of the scientists doing the study is really interesting and I had never thought of it but I suppose it really could make a difference. In addition to those ideas, as I was reading your blog I was wondering what exactly would suffice as an opt out and discovered that in the states that allow for it there is still a lot of paperwork and loops to jump through. This is good in that it limits the number of people able to opt out of vaccinations, but as stated in your blog and in class it isn’t enough. I think CA was right in working to ban this sort of restriction because it is a danger to those who can’t be vaccinated around them!

  3. Taylor Harrington

    I really enjoyed reading this post. It’s well-written and well-researched. I like how you took a class topic, narrowed it down to what’s going on in specifically California and then proposed what should happen next based on your research. I do think this is a very tricky manner with religionist beliefs affected people’s decision to get vaccinated. Andrew said in class the other day when we talked about “are animals gay?” that it DOES matter if the scientists doing that experiment are gay. My question for you to investigate, or Andrew to answer, is does it matter if the scientists in the vaccinated experiments are atheists, Jewish, Catholic, extremely religious Christians? Based on Andrew’s thoughts that is DOES matter if gay scientists are the ones drawing conclusions on the sexual preferences of animals, I would assume it would apply for this study as well, but definitely something worth thinking about and getting more information on.

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