California Schools Try to Keep Up With Immunization Records

(Photo: Free Stock Photos, Creative Commons)

(Photo: Free Stock Photos, Creative Commons)

It was expected that hundreds of Californian students throughout the state of California would miss the first day of school this year as districts across the state continue to confirm immunization records for each student.

Senate Bill 227 took effect earlier this summer, requiring all students in the state of California to provide proof of immunization records, putting aside any personal or medical beliefs.  School spokesman John Sasaki for the Oakland Unified School District said that any student who does not have these records will be sent home.

“The good news is that we expect the vast majority of students to be in school,” Sasaki said. “Unfortunately, if you walk in tomorrow and you haven’t presented immunizations prior, you won’t be allowed in class. And so we want you to get them as soon as possible because we want our kids in school studying.”

Sasaki said that as of last week, an estimated 4,100 students still needed to update their records.  However, thousands of records were processed this week with more records being turned into the district and individual schools.  Sasaki said the district expects “a few hundred students at worst” to miss the opening day of school this year, reports Rick Hurd for The Mercury News.

While students of parents that had filed for a personal belief exemption for immunizations before the law was passed will be allowed to attend school, the exemption is no longer valid for students entering the seventh grade.  Close to 400 students will be grandfathered in under this exemption this year.

California is now the third state in the United States to deny exemption based on religious beliefs, although 32 states already deny exemption based on personal moral beliefs.

The concern over vaccinations began after an outbreak of measles was reported in Disneyland several years ago that affected a total of 134 people in the state of California, as well as to people in six additional states and two other countries, writes Jane Meredith Adams for The Huffington Post.

Anti-vaccination groups have stood against the new law, arguing that parents should have the right to choose whether or not to offer preventative medicine to their child.  Many believe that the high number of vaccinations given to children result in a higher chance of the child developing developmental disorders such as autism, although scientific research has not found such a connection, reports Liz Miller for The Santa Monica Observer.

Meanwhile, a total of 145 students missed all or part of the first day of school in Sacramento as a result of the new state law.  The majority of the students were allowed to return to school as soon as their parents had submitted the necessary records.  The district noted that it is currently working with the families of the remaining children to see if they need any help.

Sacramento is one of the first districts in the state to begin classes for the year, but similar scenarios are expected to be seen throughout the state in the coming weeks.