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Research Letter
June 2016

California Senate Bill 277’s Grandfather Clause and Nonmedical Vaccine Exemptions in California, 2015-2022

Author Affiliations
  • 1Department of Geography, George Mason University, Fairfax, Virginia
  • 2Department of Health Administration and Policy, George Mason University, Fairfax, Virginia
JAMA Pediatr. 2016;170(6):619-620. doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2015.4856

On June 25, 2015, California’s governor approved Senate Bill (SB) 277, a state law that substantially narrows exceptions to school-entry vaccination mandates. The law goes into effect on July 1, 2016, and California will join Mississippi and West Virginia as the third state to disallow nonmedical exemptions (NMEs) from vaccination based on religious or philosophical beliefs for students entering public or private schools.1 Only medical exemptions will be permitted.

In a compromise during the legislative process in May 2015, the SB 277 authors included a “grandfather clause” that allows students who already possess an NME to continue attending school without vaccination until their next vaccination grade checkpoint (seventh grade in California).2 Although the decision to grandfather students with a pre–SB 277 NME reduces the potential for conflict between schools and vaccine-hesitant parents, it also allows students with NMEs to remain within California’s schools in the near future. We provide, to our knowledge, the first detailed estimates of the effects of SB 277’s grandfather clause on NMEs in California’s schools.