Vaccine law is changing Jan. 1, school district reminds parents

Starting Jan. 1, Newport-Mesa school district parents and guardians will no longer have the option to abstain from vaccinating their children by filing a personal beliefs exemption form.

Parents have until Dec. 31 to submit an exemption form which will remain valid until the student enrolls in the next grade span: transitional kindergarten, kindergarten or seventh grade.

Gov. Jerry Brown signed Senate Bill 277 June 30, which changed school immunization requirements. Starting the first of the year, only students at a home-based private school or an independent study program with no classroom-based instruction can bypass immunization requirements.

The district released a reminder last week of the new vaccine law and the formal deadlines.

“The science is clear that vaccines dramatically protect children against a number of infectious and dangerous diseases,” Brown said in a letter addressed to the members of the California State Senate that was included in the reminder. “While it’s true that no medical intervention is without risk, the evidence shows that immunization powerfully benefits and protects the community.”

Not all parents agree that the change is a good idea or necessary. Costa Mesa resident Rich Kettley, a father of five with four of his sons in the Newport-Mesa district, said being able to opt out would “allow families to move forward in a way that’s comfortable for them.”

“Vaccines have done a wonderful thing for mankind and I understand the positive effects vaccines had for my parents [when they were going to school], but it’s human nature to go overboard on things,” he said. “There could be vaccines that some parents feel their child doesn’t need. They could prefer that they get chicken pox the old-fashioned way.”

The district will accept personal beliefs exemption forms that are turned into the student’s school office on or before Dec. 18 or mailed to the student’s school office so that it is postmarked by Dec. 31, according to district public relations officer Annette Franco. Forms may also be scanned and emailed to the student’s school nurse by Dec. 31.

Entering students ages 4 through 6 are required to have their polio, hepatitis B, varicella (chickenpox), their measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR), and their diptheria, tetanus, and pertussis (DTP) immunizations.

Students ages 7 through 17 in the classrooms require their polio, varicella, MMR, DTP, and tetanus, diptheria, and pertussis (Tdap) immunizations.

To find the exemption form or for more information, visit