CHCA Proposed Legislation on Religious and Conscientious Beliefs
This legislative proposal would protect the religious and conscientious beliefs of families and their children. If a parent or guardian files with the school/daycare a letter or affidavit stating that the person is declining an immunization based on conscientious or religious beliefs, that child would be exempt from the required vaccinations.
An act to amend Sections 120325 and 120370 of the Health and Safety Code, relating to public health.
THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA DO ENACT AS FOLLOWS:
SECTION 1. Section 120325 of the Health and Safety Code is amended to read:
120325. In enacting this chapter, but excluding Section 120380, and in enacting Sections 120400, 120405, 120410, and 120415, it is the intent of the Legislature to provide:
(a) A means for the eventual achievement of total immunization of appropriate age groups against the following childhood diseases:
(2) Hepatitis B.
(3) Haemophilus influenzae type b.
(6) Pertussis (whooping cough).
(10) Varicella (chickenpox).
(11) Any other disease deemed appropriate by the department, taking into consideration the recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices of the United States Department of Health and Human Services, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the American Academy of Family Physicians.
(b) That the persons required to be immunized be allowed to obtain immunizations from whatever medical source they so desire, subject only to the condition that the immunization be performed in accordance with the regulations of the department and that a record of the immunization is made in accordance with the regulations.
(c) Exemptions from immunization for medical reasons. reasons or because of conscientious or religious beliefs.
(d) For the keeping of adequate records of immunization so that health departments, schools, and other institutions, parents or guardians, and the persons immunized will be able to ascertain that a child is fully or only partially immunized, and so that appropriate public agencies will be able to ascertain the immunization needs of groups of children in schools or other institutions.
(e) Incentives to public health authorities to design innovative and creative programs that will promote and achieve full and timely immunization of children.
SEC. 2. Section 120370 of the Health and Safety Code is amended to read:
120370. (a) (1) Prior to January 1, 2021, if the parent or guardian files with the governing authority a written statement by a licensed physician and surgeon to the effect that the physical condition of the child is such, or medical circumstances relating to the child are such, that immunization is not considered safe, indicating the specific nature and probable duration of the medical condition or circumstances, including, but not limited to, family medical history, for which the physician and surgeon does not recommend immunization, that child shall be exempt from the requirements of this chapter, except for Section 120380, and exempt from Sections 120400, 120405, 120410, and 120415 to the extent indicated by the physician and surgeon’s statement.
(2) Commencing January 1, 2020, a child who has a medical exemption issued before January 1, 2020, shall be allowed continued enrollment to any public or private elementary or secondary school, child care center, day nursery, nursery school, family day care home, or developmental center within the state until the child enrolls in the next grade span.
For purposes of this subdivision, “grade span” means each of the following:
(A) Birth to preschool, inclusive.
(B) Kindergarten and grades 1 to 6, inclusive, including transitional kindergarten.
(C) Grades 7 to 12, inclusive.
(3) Except as provided in this subdivision, on and after July 1, 2021, the governing authority shall not unconditionally admit or readmit to any of those institutions specified in this subdivision, or admit or advance any pupil to 7th grade level, unless the pupil has been immunized pursuant to Section 120335 or the parent or guardian files a medical exemption form that complies with Section 120372.
(b) If the parent or guardian, the adult who has assumed responsibility for the care and custody of a child, or the child, if an emancipated minor, files with the governing authority a letter or affidavit that states the person is declining an immunization based on conscientious or religious beliefs, that child shall be exempt from the requirements of Chapter 1 (commencing with Section 120325), but excluding Section 120380, and Sections 120400, 120405, 120410, and 120415.
(c) If there is good cause to believe that a child has been exposed to a disease listed in subdivision (b) of Section 120335 and the child's documentary proof of immunization status does not show proof of immunization against that disease, that child may be temporarily excluded from the school or institution until the local health officer is satisfied that the child is no longer at risk of developing or transmitting the disease.