New California immunization law requires parents to make informed decisions

A law that goes into effect next year in California will require parents who do not have their children immunized to read about the risks and benefits of immunization.

On September 30, Governor Jerry Brown signed Assembly Bill 2109 into law, which will require parents to sign a waiver from a nurse practitioner or physician that says the parent received the information. The parents must sign the waiver before they are allowed to enroll their children in school. The bill will go into effect on January 1, 2014, the Morgan Hill Times reports.

Brown directed the state Department of Health to oversee the policy to keep parents from becoming overwhelmed and to allow for a separate religious exemption on the waiver form. People with religious beliefs that prohibit immunizations will not have to get a signature from a medical professional.

"This bill is about explaining the value of vaccinations - both the benefits and risks - for an individual child and the community," Brown said, according to the Sacramento Bee. "Whether these are simple 'information exchanges' or more detailed discussions, they will be valuable even if a parent chooses not to vaccinate."

The National Vaccine Information Center expressed disappointment when Brown passed the bill.

"Governor Brown should have vetoed this unnecessary bill," Barbara Loe Fisher, NVIC's co-founder and president, said. "He knew it was a bad bill and made it less oppressive by clearly reaffirming the fundamental right of parents to follow their conscience and religious beliefs when making vaccine decisions for their children."