California’s New Vaccination Law: 5 Things You Need To Know


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EDITOR’S NOTE: The law went into effect at the beginning of the month and affects all students who start school this year.

Starting this month, all children who attend school in California must be vaccinated against common childhood diseases under a tough state law passed following the measles outbreak at Disneyland in 2014.

Here are the the five things you need to know:

1. Who’s affected by the law?

All students entering kindergarten must have their second measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) shot, diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis (DTaP) vaccine and their final polio vaccine.

All students entering the seventh grade must get a DTAP booster shot.

2. Why the new law?

The law was spurred by the measles outbreak at Disneyland that sickened 131 people in California. The highly contagious disease was able to spread because of pockets of unvaccinated children. State Sens. Richard Pan, a Democrat in Sacramento, and Ben Allen, a Democrat in Santa Monica, authored the bill to close this gap.

3. Can I opt out of this?

Only children who are medically unable to receive vaccines are exempt from the law. Parents are required to get a doctor’s note to get a medical exemption. Schools are required to verify a student’s vaccination records before the start of kindergarten and the seventh grade.

4. If my child is already enrolled in school, does he or she need to get vaccinated for the start of the new school year?

No. Children who have started school are grandfathered in, though they need to get their vaccinations up to date by the seventh grade.

5. I am opposed to vaccination. Is there anything I can do?

Parents who choose not to vaccinate their children can either home school, participate in a multi-family home school or participate in public school independent study programs.

6. What about special needs students?

The vaccination status of special needs students will not affect the services they receive from their Individualized Education Programs, the state education department said.