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File photo
CUSD headquarters. File photo.

By Allison Jarrell

A group of concerned parents addressed the Capistrano Unified School District Board of Trustees Wednesday night regarding the implementation of the SB 277 vaccination bill for the 2016-2017 school year.

Amanda McKay, a CUSD parent of three, presented the topic to the board as a citizen’s request agenda item, in which someone is given three minutes to address the board on an issue of their choosing. McKay was followed by 11 speakers—including one parent in favor of the new law—who largely sought to explain to the board their reasons for opposing mandated vaccinations, as well as discussing implementation for the 2016-2017 school year.

In June, Gov. Jerry Brown signed SB 277 into law, eliminating vaccine exemptions in schools statewide with the exception of noted medical issues.

“The Legislature, after considerable debate, specifically amended SB 277, to exempt a child from immunizations whenever the child’s physician concludes that there are ‘circumstances, including but not limited to, family medical history, for which the physician does not recommend immunization …’” Brown wrote in a letter to the California State Senate. “Thus, SB 277, while requiring that school children be vaccinated, explicitly provides an exception when a physician believes that circumstances—in the judgement and sound discretion of the physician—so warrant.”

While the law is already passed, many parents spoke Wednesday night about the importance of exemptions such as personal beliefs. One parent from Las Flores said she wanted the trustees to better understand parents who choose “alternative vaccination schedules” for their children.

“Most of us aren’t aimlessly following a B-list celebrity or a debunked medical study,” she said. “Most of us have very principled reasons for our choices, and they’re based in logic, ethics and morality.”

Dr. Bob Sears of Dana Point was also in attendance and said “unvaccinated kids do not pose danger to other vaccinated kids.” He added that mandated vaccines will not protect students from one of the most common illnesses in schools—whooping cough.

The item was information only, so no board action was required after the presentation. Trustee Jim Reardon, backed by Board President Lynn Hatton-Hodson, requested the board receive the source documentation cited during the speakers’ presentations, including documentation backing up allegations that parents are receiving notices mandating their children be vaccinated in order to participate in the current school year, rather than by 2016-2017, per the law.

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