Parents or guardians who want to receive an exemption from state required childhood vaccinations will be required starting Jan. 1, 2014 to make the request using a new form released this week by the California Department of Public Health (CDPH).
Both a health care professional and a parent or guardian must sign the Personal Belief Exemption (PBE) form, according to state health officials. The new form also allows for a religious exemption if the family’s religion does not permit members to get medical advice or treatment from a health care practitioner.
“The Department of Public Health encourages parents to get their children vaccinated as it is the best and safest way to prevent many serious, often deadly, diseases in children,” said Dr. Ron Chapman, CDPH director and State health officer. “It is important that parents make an informed decision, and this new form encourages education about vaccinations while protecting an individual’s constitutional rights.”
The form acknowledges that a health care professional has provided information to the parent or guardian regarding the benefits and risks of immunization, including the health risks to the student and the community resulting from declining the recommended immunizations. The health care provider and the parent must each sign the form before the form is turned in to the school. The form also allows for constitutional freedom of religious expression.
According to health officials, state law requires that all students newly admitted to a California school, kindergarten through 12th grade, students advancing to 7th grade, and children newly admitted to a childcare facility, who wish to be exempt from one or more required immunizations because of their personal beliefs must provide this form to their school or childcare facility.
The requirement does not pertain to children not entering kindergarten or 7th grade for the first time who are transferring from one California grade school to another school in California, because any previously approved exemption should be in the student’s records transferred to the new school.
The form, information and resources about the Personal Belief Exemption (AB 2109) are available on the CDPH’s Shots for School.