Mandatory Vaccines and the Nanny State

by Douglas J Mackenzie, MD

A golden opportunity to defend liberty and gain new Republicans is staring us in the face.  Soon to be on Governor Jerry Brown’s desk is SB277, having sailed through the State Senate and Assembly along nearly party-line votes, despite enormous public outcry.  SB277 is the mandatory vaccine bill put forth by State Senators pediatrician Richard Pan (D) and attorney Ben Allen (D).  This bill would mandate that all children in California receive the entire gamut of vaccines as recommended by the CDC and American Academy of Pediatrics prior to enrolling in government or private schools.  Only homeschooling would be an option for those parents who refuse anything less than the entire schedule of vaccines.  Gone would be the personal belief exemption (PBE), which in California currently covers all non-medical exemptions, including religious and philosophical.  A very small cohort of children would remain eligible for certain medical exemptions.


The pros and cons of vaccination are a topic worthy of discussion, but are beyond the focus of this piece.  Suffice it to say that vaccines, like any medical procedure, carry risk including serious, long term risk.  Vaccines have been determined to be “unavoidably unsafe” by the Supreme Court, and in 1986 the vaccine industry, reeling from lawsuits, was granted unprecedented Federal government protection from liability with the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act.  Protection was later granted to physicians administering vaccines as well.  Vaccine injured children that fit certain stringent criteria may be compensated by the “Vaccine Court” from a taxpayer-funded National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program.


Even for California, SB277 represents an extreme of nanny-state coercion.  Based on the notion that the government “knows best”, and pushed by legislators who have received large donations from pharmaceutical corporations, we are essentially having a medical procedure forced on our children.  Is this an exaggeration?  Since homeschooling or moving to another state is not an option for most families, vaccination with the full schedule is parents’ only choice.  No modification or delay of any vaccines will be allowed, as all must be completed or caught up prior to entering school.  Obviously, keeping their kids from school altogether would violate truancy laws and bring real force upon families. Other bills are in the works to force vaccines on teachers and daycare workers, and to link Medi-Cal reimbursements to vaccination rates in children under 2 years old.  National mandatory vaccine legislation is being drafted as well.  This is truly a “slippery slope” issue that affects all of us, young and old.  Whether Brown vetoes SB277 or not, this issue is not going away and we need to be vigilant about preventing government from forcing treatments on us.


Although the State Senate and Assembly votes to date have largely gone along party lines, amongst the electorate this is not a partisan issue.  Locally, people against this bill reflect the general political make-up of our area, and there are many Democrats furious with their elected Democratic brethren who have pushed this bill through despite the grassroots uproar.  This has already prompted some to leave their party, or plan to if the bill becomes law.  This is an excellent opportunity for us to welcome more people to the Republican Party by spreading the word and holding our own representatives’ and candidates’ feet to the fire on this issue.


Although the mainstream news has not given this issue the coverage it deserves, and when it does slants it in favor of mandatory vaccines (the media receive 70% of their revenue from Pharma), there is plenty of information available online.  A good place to start is