A day after the California Assembly passed a controversial vaccine bill, the state Senate approved the legislation 28-11 on Wednesday.
Assembly Bill 276 now heads to Governor Gavin Newsom’s desk.
The bill would call for the state Department of Public Health to review medical exemptions to vaccinations given by doctors to more than five patients in a year. The DPH could reject exemptions found to be outside the guidelines detailed in the bill.
Assemblywoman Christy Smith (D-Santa Clarita) weighed in on SB 276, which she signed Tuesday, in a statement, which follows:
“Today, I voted for SB 276. The decision was not an easy one, as I believe in legitimate exemptions and understand many people cannot be vaccinated for reasons beyond their control. But illegitimate and fraudulent exemptions written by bad actors exist and erode public health.
“Some facts have gotten lost in this impassioned debate. These facts helped inform my decision:
“· As amended, SB 276 allows for family medical history to be considered in the exemption process and allows parents to submit any evidence they find pertinent in the event a Department of Public Health appeal is necessary for their child.
“· Upholding public health means we have to install greater accountability and due process in order to eliminate those bad actors in the medical profession. SB 276 does so by giving the Medical Board of California the proper tools and oversight to ensure physicians are meeting their standard of care.
“· The exemption review process does not lie with “bureaucrats” from the California Department of Public Health. Reviews are carefully examined by licensed physicians, consistent with the scientific peer-review process.
“· Privacy and protection of sensitive health information are extremely important to me, and I want to assure everyone that SB 276 is compliant with state and federal privacy laws.
“· This bill establishes standardized systems, one a vaccine exemption form to be submitted to the California Immunization Registry. Another, to monitor immunization levels in our schools, to alert high exemptions for inspection by a physician or surgeon. These systems will help us better achieve our public health goals and to limit the need for review so children are able to enroll in school without delay.
“With the reemergence of vaccine-preventable diseases, we cannot put our children in harm’s way. SB 276, with its incorporated amendments, protects the doctor-patient relationship and promotes community immunity to protect public health.”
Smith represents California’s 38th Assembly District, which includes the communities of Santa Clarita, Simi Valley, Agua Dulce, Castaic, Santa Susana Knolls and North San Fernando Valley.