Earlier this year we at FPM began receiving calls from homeschool parents who had been contacted by their local Public Health Department. These parents were informed that a new law (AB 354) required them to have their children vaccinated with an additional Tdap booster shot. They were also told that the new law did not allow parents to opt their children out of the new requirement. In response to this, FPM called a large number of the 58 county offices of public health trying to get a clear picture of what was being communicated by them. After spending weeks researching and communicating with public health officials, we concluded that there was much confusion and misinformation from one county to the next (and in some cases even from one person to the next inside the same office).
Ultimately we discovered that the state directives to the counties were not clear and that only one or two people in each county were actually familiar with the requirements of the new law. We at FPM also researched the law (both statutes and regulations) in partnership with HSLDA. Then we jointly published our findings and recommendations in an article which you may have seen in the May/June/July edition of our Newsletter or on our website.
The bottom line and the good news is this: parents retain the right to opt out of all required vaccinations, including Tdap. In 2010, FPM tracked AB 354 from its introduction in February until it was signed by Governor Schwarzenegger (Sept. 2010) and the regulations approved (June 2011). When a bill like this is passed that requires the state to write and approve regulations to implement a law like this one, the regulations are written and approved as soon as possible after the beginning of the following year. We made sure that this bill, and later the regulations to implement the bill, contained language that would retain the right of parents to opt out of the new Tdap vaccination requirement.
We are pleased to report that parents still maintain that right for every required vaccination in California. FPM continues to oppose any move to require any vaccination that does not allow for a personal exemption so that parents retain the right to opt their children out of any or all mandatory vaccinations.