A Voice For Choice believes that health education, combined with temporary quarantine in rare outbreaks of childhood illnesses, is a better solution for ‘pockets’ of under-vaccinated students, rather than creating a blanket mandate that denies education to thousands of students, which is what happened in 2016 in California when SB277 was implemented.
SB277 removes access to any school, public or private, for any child whose family has personal or religious beliefs against all or any individual vaccine. There is no provision in the bill for specific groups of students, such as English Learners, and no explanation of how these students’ legal entitlements will be met if they are denied entry into classrooms. Furthermore, this is an unfunded mandate, meaning that all loss of ADA and further costs of providing individual services for these students will be borne by individual school districts.
Prior to SB277 being implemented in 2016, approximately 2.5% of students in California claimed a vaccine PBE (Personal Belief Exemption). Many of these students are partially vaccinated and missing only one or two shots, for example Hepatitis B, which is a disease spread through sexual contact. Others have a religious belief that prohibits use of any drugs, or, drugs that contain specific ingredients such as fetal cell lines or animal cells. Under SB277, none of these students will be allowed to attend school.
The media frequently reports outdated statistics to claim that vaccine rates in California have fallen. In fact, since 2014, when a new law required parents to consult a healthcare professional before claiming a vaccine exemption, vaccination rates have risen significantly. (put in reference) California schools as a whole have a vaccination rate that far exceeds that needed for ‘herd immunity’. Furthermore, there are already regulations in place to exclude non vaccinated or partially vaccinated students from school in the event of an epidemic, (although these regulations are very rarely needed).
A Voice For Choice does not take a ‘pro’ or ‘anti’ stance on vaccination. We believe that there are better solutions to health issues than denying whole cohorts of children an education. We believe that all students, regardless of parents’ personal or religious beliefs, have the right to go to school. We believe that, while homeschool can be an excellent educational option for those who choose it, it is not an acceptable ‘education’ for those who do not have the resources or skills to undertake it