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Ready, Set, Vaccinate
March 31, 2015 – On January 2, I was looking forward to a year that would focus on planning and development for our Coalition. Taking our shiny new strategic plan and churning out projects to support our goals for promoting immunization and the immunization registry. Well, we’ll get back to that soon. It turns out that 2015 will be just as interesting, as changeable and as challenging as every year has been since I began my work with the Coalition.
Starting with the measles outbreak at one of my happiest places on earth – Disneyland that generated numerous inquiries from media, parents, colleagues and legislators. Then moving on to the introduction of several new pieces of immunization related legislation including SB 277 (Pan/Allen) which will remove the personal beliefs exemption from the Health & Safety code. We started 2015 with a flying start and whatever happens during the upcoming hearings and meetings around the legislation, we are pleased to have the opportunity to educate our policymakers and the media about the key issues that impact our communities.
Along with a dynamic legislative session, we are also looking forward to our annual Coalition Summit on April 26-27. We hope you will be able to join us in Riverside as we welcome some terrific keynote speakers including Dr. Bill Atkinson, and Colin McRoberts and immunization champions, Heidi S. Parker from Nevada and Anna Dragsbaek from Texas. See more about the Summit here.
We’ve grown so much as an organization and as advocates for public health and immunization. We look forward to working with you as we expand our membership and our role in promoting immunizations and protecting our communities from vaccine preventable diseases.
Personal Belief Exemption Form Released
October 30, 2013 – The California Department of Public Health released the PBE form (CDPH 8262 10/13)
The form and a Frequently Asked Questions page can be found on the www.shotsforschool.org website here http://www.shotsforschool.org/immunizationlaws/. The Immunization Branch has done a terrific job of gathering resources and materials that could be used in implementing the law that goes into effect January 1, 2014. The FAQ will answer many, if not all of your remaining questions about the law.
The California Department of Public Health sent out a press release this afternoon that can be viewed here (attached).
While we disagree with the decision to include an option to exempt a child from immunization if a parent or guardian is “…are a member of a religion which prohibits me from seeking medical advice or treatment from authorized health care practitioners”, the Coalition is in full support of the healthcare practitioners, school nurses and the CDPH Immunization Branch who are charged with implementing this new law. As always we are committed to providing accurate information for families and the community.
CIC will share additional information and resources on our website and through our Committee Conference calls.
It is important to remember that if the form is used properly by parents seeking a true personal belief exemption, this will impact a relatively low number of families – however we recognize that certain areas will be impacted more.
On behalf of the CIC Board of Directors and the co-sponsors of AB 2109, we thank you for your support in passing this important legislation to reduce the casual use of PBE’s in California. Please contact me at [email protected] if you have any questions or comments.
October 29, 2013 – Update: Still Waiting For Approval of Exemption Form
In his signing of AB 2109, Governor Brown directed the Department of Public Health to “allow for a separate religious exemption on the form.” The California Immunization Coalition does not support this addition because the personal belief exemption currently in statute already satisfies and includes those seeking exemption based on religious beliefs. We understand that the Governor has concerns about protecting the first amendment rights of parents who believe their religion does not allow them to seek medical treatment from health care practitioners. However, this new law does not require that parents vaccinate or treat their children, but that everyone receive accurate education and information about vaccines and vaccine-preventable diseases.
As you know, requiring vaccinations for children enrolled in childcare facilities and schools has been a major contributor to the success of the immunization program and the resultant decreases in devastating and preventable diseases. Our interest is in complimenting this mechanism by instituting an educational component whereby all families are guaranteed to receive clear and accurate information about vaccines and vaccine-preventable diseases and the risks and benefits. Parents then have the option to choose not to vaccinate their child by claiming a personal belief exemption including religious beliefs.
So on the one hand, I am in no hurry to see an exemption form that includes a religious exemption option (as we have heard rumored) because that is inconsistent with the law passed by the legislature. On the other hand, not having a form to share with healthcare practitioners who need to be prepared to appropriately speak with concerned parents and guardians, is frustrating. During our work to advocate for AB 2109 we assured our colleagues that we would have a form and the resources available well in advance of the implementation date. We have been waiting over a year. I apologize for not being able to make good on that commitment, yet.
With less than 9 weeks till January 2014, the Coalition is working to ensure that our partners in public health have the information to be able to implement this new rule. We look forward to working with you to make this a professional and organized process. Please check CIC’s Facebook, Twitter and website pages for updated information. Our thanks for your interest and support, Catherine
RE: AB 2109 Implementation – Personal Belief Exemptions and Immunization
Assembly Bill 2109 (Pan) was signed into law on September 30, 2012 and goes into effect January 2014. This law will require a parent or guardian seeking a personal belief exemption (PBE) from school required immunizations for their child, to first obtain a document signed by themselves and a licensed health care practitioner which will verify that the healthcare practitioner has informed the parent or guardian of the benefits and risks of immunization, as well as the health risks of the diseases that a child could contract.
The law preserves a parent’s option to exempt their child from immunizations, but also ensures that such a decision is an informed one and that the parent is aware of the individual and public health risks of not immunizing their child.
At this writing, the California Department of Public Health has not released the final document to be used in implementing AB 2109 and with less than 90 days before the law goes into effect, this has created a challenge for physicians, health departments and schools that are seeking information. Understandably, they want to be prepared to respond to parent and public questions and concerns and as we approach the holidays this will become a bigger challenge for our public health departments to provide this information in an expeditious manner.
As co-sponsors of this bill we are committed to supporting an organized and professional implementation. For more information and updates contact us at [email protected].
Sept. 30 – AB 2109 (Pan) – review signing statement.
Congratulations to all! AB2109 bill was signed today!
Many thanks to our supporters and colleagues who worked to inform their representatives and the media about the importance of this effort.
Watch this site for updates on the implementation of the new law and frequently asked questions. Tremendous team effort and a great win for public health and immunizations in California! Best regards, Catherine
This new law, co-sponsored by the California Immunization Coalition, the California Medical Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics – CA and the Health Officers Association of California will help protect our children, our schools and our entire community from vaccine preventable diseases by strengthening the vaccine exemption process – http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/pub/11-12/bill/asm/ab_2101-2150/ab_2109_bill_20120831_enrolled.pdf .
August 22, 2012 - Passed out of Senate. Cards and letters to Governor Brown today!
May 30, 2012- After passing out of the Assembly on May 10th, AB 2109 will next be heard in Senate Health Committee sometime in June.
This bill is about protecting children and families and it will impact exemption rates in California just as it has in Washington State where their rate of exemption from vaccines required for school has dropped significantly in the first year since passage of a law that changed the parental opt-out process. Press release from May 17. (Their Kindergarten exemption rates for required immunizations dropped to 4.5 percent for the 2011-2012 school year compared to 6.0 percent in 2010-2011 and 6.2 percent in 2009-2010.)
California’s public and private health care providers do not want our State’s immunization exemption rates to get to the point where the community is at risk for unnecessary exposure to preventable diseases. We are proud of the bills author, co-sponsors and supporters for taking a dignified, respectful and professional stand in favor of the health of our community. For the most current information on AB 2109 (Background, Fact Sheets, FAQ, Bill Language) go to our Advocacy page on the CIC website and select Legislative Information 2012 .
You can make a difference: Reach out to your local State Senator and introduce yourself and your organization. Let them know you are a source of accurate, credible, science based immunization information in their district. The opposition is providing a considerable amount of misinformation on this bill and we need you to make sure our representatives and their staff know who their resources are in your area. Please contact me directly if you have any questions.
Thank you for your support!
AB 2109 Passes Assembly Health and Appropriations
May 3, 2012 – The Assembly Health Committee (on 4/17) and Appropriations Committee (on 5/2) have passed AB2109 (Pan) Personal Belief Exemptions and the bill will next be heard on the Assembly Floor. You can subscribe to receive updates directly from the California Legislative Information site at www.leginfo.ca.gov We will post updates on our website, Twitter site (@ImmunizeCa) and Facebook pages as well.
Two additional ways to stay up to date are to go to a website that has been set up by a terrific advocate for immunizations, Liz Ditz. Find it here – http://californianssupportingab2109.blogspot.com .
There is also a Facebook page that has been created to generate support for and keep in touch about AB 2109. You will need to request to be added.
You can help: Reach out to your local representative and introduce yourself and your organization. Let them know you are a source credible immunization information in their district. After hearing some of the questions and concerns from some of the representatives, it is clear that we need to make sure they have the most up to date information.
The author needs your letters of support, as an individual or as an organization. We would like to acknowledge the growing list of supporters of this bill including Co-Sponsors, AAP – California District IX, California Medical Association and the Health Officers Association of California.
Please contact me directly at [email protected] or at 916-447-7063 ext 333. Thank you for your great work.
Action Alert – AB 2109
April 4, 2012 – The California Immunization Coalition is proud to be a co-sponsor of AB 2109 (Pan) Vaccine Preventable Diseases along with the American Academy of Pediatrics – CA District, the California Medical Association, and the Health Officers Association of California which has the goal of improving vaccination rates and reducing the use of the personal belief exemption out of convenience. AB 2109 is scheduled to be heard in the Assembly Health Committee on Tuesday April 17 and we need you to act today to contact your Assembly Member, particularly if they are on the Assembly Health Committee. See list at http://ahea.assembly.ca.gov/membersstaff.
Letters and Calls
Your organization’s letter (or personal letter) of support and your phone calls will make a tremendous difference in this effort. Advocacy efforts may occur in person, via phone call, fax (preferred) or email to the local office of the legislator. Please let CIC know if you make any contacts and how they go!
Template letters to assist you in creating a letter to be sent on your letterhead can be found at http://www.immunizeca.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/AB2109-template-support-letter-FINAL4-4-12.doc. Please send a copy of your letter of support to Assembly Member Richard Pan (Fax 916.319.2105)
Please send your letters to arrive at the Assembly Health Committee and Assembly Member Richard Pan’s office no later than 5:00 pm on Tuesday, April 10.
Fact Sheet and Bill Text
You will find the AB 2109 Fact Sheet here and the current text of bill is at http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/bilinfo.html where you can also subscribe to bill updates. This bill does not prevent a family from refusing one or more school entry vaccines. Rather, it introduces an information step into the process, which is accomplished by the family and a physician, nurse practitioner or physician assistant signing a simple form that indicates the parent received information on the benefits and risks of vaccines from that health care provider.
If you run into questions from legislators or staff that you are not comfortable answering, please let them know that you will have your colleague at the California Immunization Coalition give them a call. Legislators prefer to hear from local constituents on this issue. Your voice and support for AB 2109 is vital this week and next week.
For more information, please contact me at 916-447-7063 ext 333 or by e-mail at [email protected]
Watch the CIC website and your In-Box for more updates and information in the weeks ahead!
Budget Cuts Endanger California’s Immunization Programs
On October 8, 2010 the Legislature passed a much delayed budget for California. At the last minute, the Legislative Analyst’s Office (LAO) reintroduced several recommendations as a way to bring the budget in line with available resources in California. Included in the LAO’s recommendations was the elimination of all $18 million of the local assistance funding that the California Department of Public Health Immunization Program has historically received.
CIC is unclear how this last minute decision was made and is outraged that our state legislators and the Governor’s office would cut all local assistance funding – funding that is essential for the public’s health.
Because the state funding was initially included in the Governor’s and Legislature’s prior budget proposals, California’s immunization programs had proceeded based on assumption of routine funding. Now that this funding has been eliminated, all Collaborative Projects, Community Health Center (CHC) immunization activities, and Registry activities will need to stop shortly or be dramatically curtailed. It is also uncertain how CDPH will provide adult flu vaccine next season (2011-12) in the absence of state funds.
The elimination of these funds will likely limit access to vaccines, stall registry implementation, and hamper efforts to promote immunizations in under-served communities.
Call to Action:
- Contact your local legislator and let them know how these cuts will impact their local immunization program and the communities they represent.
- Contact candidates running for office in your area. As a new legislators, they may be voting on a revised budget following the November election.
- Customize your messages based on what is going on in your community. Let them know or remind them about the pertussis epidemic in California, the high number of pertussis cases or deaths (if any) in your area along with any numbers on jobs that may be lost.
- Highlight any vaccine preventable disease outbreaks in your area, such as chickenpox, measles, and pertussis. Mention this is flu season and whether flu has started showing up in your community. Remind them about universal flu recommendations (6 months and older) and whether there will be sufficient staff to provide them to the community.
- Contact the Governor’s office with the same information above.
Contact the media in your community. Copy them on any letters you send out to your local legislator.
CIC is sensitive to the fact that many other important programs have been cut, however with the current pertussis epidemic and the passage of AB 354 which will require over a million 7th -12th grade students to get a pertussis vaccine booster by July 1, 2011, we have a very compelling story to share. The public should be concerned that funding for disease prevention is being eliminated.
Over the next days and weeks, CIC will be doing all of the above at the State level wherever possible, but this information cannot come only from us. It will take a concerted effort of all our partners to help our representatives understand the significance of these funds to public health and the impact on our community if these dollars are not reinstated.
Please contact me directly anytime at the number/ e-mail below. Thank you for your assistance.
Please call (916) 447-7063 ext. 333 or e-mail with any questions.
Catherine Flores Martin
California Immunization Coalition
September 29, 2010
AB 354 has been signed! Thanks to all for your support!
Congratulations and Thanks to CIC’s Adocacy Team and Assembly Members Arambula and Fletcher
CIC is thrilled to announce that Governor Schwarzenegger signed Assembly Bill No. 354 – Pertussis booster vaccination requirement for adolescents – on Wednesday, September 29, 2010. This is a major win for children and families in California and a major step for public health professionals to be able to prevent pertussis disease in California.
The bill has been Chaptered and you can read the full text here for full information on this bill. You will be able to find additional information on implementation of this law and Fact Sheets about AB 354 on the pertussis resources section.
It took 4 years to make this happen and we are eternally grateful for the work of our Board members and Coalition leaders for keeping the legislation alive. However none of this would have come together without the time and commitment from Lydia Bourne and Steve Barrow, Co-Chairs of the CIC Advocacy Committee. These long time Coalition and public health advocates have spent hours at the Capitol, educating legislators and their staff, testifying at hearings and training other advocates on how to work with our policy leaders in California.
I am honored and proud to be working with and for the public health community and immunization professionals who have worked so hard to get this legislation passed.
Catherine Flores-Martin, Director
Your Support Needed – Please Contact Governor Schwarzenegger
Assembly Bill No. 354 Student Immunizations (Arambula and Fletcher) is Enrolled and waiting for the Governor’s signature. CIC would like to emphasize however, that this process is not complete. We still need the Governor’s signature and for that to occur we need to make sure that he is aware of how important this legislation is in preventing the continued transmission of pertussis disease.
Each community in California needs to tell their story about how pertussis has impacted their hospital, their practice, clinic, local health department, their school or perhaps, your own family.
There have been numerous stories in the media which has helped to educate our legislators and as we learned from the nearly unanimous votes (highlighted below) we have had far reaching support. The Governor needs to know this too and it is up to you as a public health advocate or Coalition member. It is not too late to fax a one page letter or note today ( http://immunizeca.org/legislativepacket.cfm )
I am happy to answer questions about this legislation or you can go to http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/ and plug in AB 354 to get full history and analysis of the enrolled bill.
Catherine Flores – Martin
California Immunization Coalition
Re: AB 354 – Pertussis (Whooping Cough) Vaccines for Students
This afternoon (8/23), Assembly Bill AB 354 was passed off the Assembly floor with unanimous approval (final vote 72 -0) and is now headed to the Governor’s desk. It is imperative that you let the Governor know that you support disease prevention in California!
We are in the most critical phase of bill passage and we are very close to meeting this important goal. We urge you to please contact the office of Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger to ask for his signature on AB 354 (Arambula and Fletcher). Assembly Members Juan Arambula and Nathan Fletcher did a phenomenal job introducing this bill to their colleagues on the Assembly Floor today. Please copy CIC and their offices on any communications you send to the Governor’s office. And while you are feeling good about this current achievement, consider sending them a note of thanks as well!
As one of our partners stated a few weeks back, … ‘we would rather jump on home plate than have to slide in and avoid the tag.’ Your letters of support are an extremely important step in getting this bill passed and we ask your to help make this happen.
Please contact me at 916-447-7063 ext 333 or at [email protected] for assistance or answers. Thank you!
Brief Update on AB 354 – 8/12/ 2010
Just an hour ago, the Senate Appropriations Committee voted AB 354 – Arambula and Fletcher, off of the Suspense file and out of Appropriations! Amendments were taken and will be announced shortly. Next step is approval on the Senate Floor. Watch our Twitter feed (www.twitter.com/immunizeca) and Facebook page for updates!
Home Stretch for AB 354 –
Your support will make the difference!
A brief update on AB 354 – Arambula and Fletcher. First, we are pleased to share that Assembly Member Nathan Fletcher (R-San Diego) has signed on as joint author on this bill. Mr. Fletcher has been a strong supporter of public health and immunizations, acting as author and co-author of other IZ legislation, AB 1937 and AB 2093.
Second, amendments have been taken which have removed Hepatitis B vaccination record check at 7th grade in order to drop the cost and have added the pertussis booster requirement for 7th graders. It is felt that this change will assist with moving the bill out of the Appropriations Committee Suspense file. The Senate Appropriations Committee hearing is scheduled for August 12.
After AB 354 is voted off suspense, it will go the Senate floor for a vote and then back to the Assembly for concurrence – agreement on the amendments taken in the Senate. Because of the huge number of bills heading to the Senate floor, this bill may not arrive and/or be voted on until next week.
Your calls, e-mails, letters and faxes do and will make a difference. As a Coalition, this is one of the most important things we do. Thank you for your support!
These Deaths are Preventable
July 30, 2010
San Diego County Public Health Department announced on Thursday (7/29) that a one month-old baby boy, who was diagnosed with whooping cough, died on July 27 at Rady Children’s Hospital San Diego.
As public health professionals and immunization advocates, we have a responsibility to let our representatives know that we are counting on them to protect public health and save taxpayer money by preventing disease and avoiding hospitalization and treatment costs.
Since 2006, CIC and partners have been telling the legislature that the disease of pertussis is cyclical and every 3-5 years we can expect to see a major outbreak. And we have told them that a mandate for pertussis vaccination would reduce the impact of disease the next time around. Four years later, with no action from the legislature, we are still without a mandate and we have the highest rates of pertussis disease in the Country.
The costs to the State for hospitalization and treatment for MediCal patients alone, averages 12 million per year. Costs this year will easily exceed 12 million and likely double or triple for hospitalizations and treatment.
We have a clear understanding of California’s budget challenges, however the very minor costs to the state for this bill are clearly outweighed by the importance of protecting infants and children from this disease. We need to use all of the options available to us to protect vulnerable infants and children, which includes vaccination of adolescents and adults.
Please contact your state representative and in particular Senate Appropriations Committee Chair, Christine Kehoe – to express your concern about these tragic infant deaths and your support for AB 354 which would allow the Department of Public Health to add a pertussis booster vaccine (Tdap – tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis) to the list of vaccines necessary for adolescent children to be considered fully immunized by age.
Contact Catherine Martin at 916-447-7063 ext 333 for additional information or resources.
July 15, 2010
The State of California Department of Public Health announced last week that as of June 30, 1,300 cases of pertussis were reported from across the state, and 700 more cases remained under investigation. Many areas of California are seeing five times the number of cases than were seen at this same time in 2009.
Dr. Mark Horton, director of the California Department of Public Health stated in mid June of this year, “Whooping cough is now an epidemic in California,” and. “Children should be vaccinated against the disease and parents, family members and caregivers of infants need a booster shot.”
It is all about protecting these newborn babies and the best way to accomplish that is to protect everyone around them. Number one priority for CIC is to get AB 354 passed. We have also started a California Pertussis Task Force which will be working with local hospitals to implement standing orders for postpartum Tdap administration and use of Tdap in Emergency Departments for advocating that Employee Health programs offer this vaccination to their staff.
Help get the word out about the dangers of whooping cough by:
Posting these new flyers in public spaces: Is It Whooping Cough? Poster | Spanish
Sharing personal stories about families affected by whooping cough at www.Shotbyshot.org.
Distributing informational materials from eziz’s new Pertussis Materials page.
Thank you for helping to educate the public and professionals in your community.
July 2, 2010
The California Immunization Coalition has worked for the past three years to pass legislation that would mandate pertussis (Tdap) vaccination for all incoming 7th graders in order to help break the cycle of pertussis transmission in California.
These bills, first AB 2580 and now AB 354, have received nearly unanimous bipartisan support and legislators have agreed that this is an important issue. However, the bill has fallen victim to the California budget crisis and has been caught in the Senate Appropriations Committee since last year due to a relatively modest cost associated with Medi-Cal administrative fees.
The bill was heard in the Senate Appropriations Committee on Monday (6-28) and due to the potential cost of the bill as analyzed, the bill is being held in Suspense.
What You Need To Do:
Contact your legislator about this bill, particularly if your representative is on the Senate Appropriations Committee (find that listing here) you should contact them personally either by phone or visit or faxed letter. Urge them to move this bill out of Suspense and highlight the cost savings to California. For Fact Sheets and sample language, go to http://immunizeca.org/legislativepacket.cfm .
CIC will keep you updated through e-mail, Twitter and Facebook re next steps for this bill. Media attention on this issue, along with your phone calls, letters and e-mails have made a difference in educating policymakers and we urge you to keep going. If you do contact your legislator, please send us a copy or note so we can follow up as well
Contact me by phone or e-mail [email protected] for more information.
June 2010 – Pertussis Deaths in California: A Preventable Tragedy – California has seen a dangerous upswing in pertussis (whooping cough) cases this year and at this writing (6-4-10) five California infants younger than 3 months are known to have died of pertussis. Pertussis is the only disease that despite high levels of vaccination in early childhood, continues to remain widespread in California.
CIC has been working for the past three years on legislation (AB 2580 and now AB 354) which would enable a requirement for pertussis vaccination of California’s seventh graders. Thirty seven States have recognized the importance of protecting their children from preventable diseases like pertussis, and it is troubling that California has refused to pass Legislation protecting adolescents and by extension, infants too young to be fully vaccinated. These infant deaths most likely could have been prevented (See map of 37 States with pertussis vaccination mandates).
Immunizing school-aged children is key to preventing pertussis from spreading in our communities, and school immunization requirements are the best tool for protecting public health from these preventable diseases.
Please contact your local representative, particularly those who are on the Senate Appropriation’s Committee, to register your concern about pertussis in California and urge their support of AB 354 to get it out of Senate Appropriations committee and to the Governor’s desk for approval this year.
Contact me anytime at [email protected]
Thank you for all you do, every day, to protect out communities from vaccine preventable diseases,
Catherine Flores Martin, Director, CIC
September 2009 – It has been over a year and a half since the California Adult Immunization Coalition (CAIC) merged with the California Coalition for Childhood Immunization (C3I) to become the California Immunization Coalition (CIC). Thanks to the vision and leadership of both Coalitions, it has been a positive experience and a great decision. Expanding our network of partners and members has helped create a stronger, more unified voice for immunizations.
It is an honor to work for and with some of the most dedicated, smart and creative people in public health alongside the many exceptional and talented individuals and organizations from the private sector who work together to promote and support the mission of CIC.
California is the largest state in the country and we are working hard as advocates for immunization and health to make our voices heard at the State and National level. Consider joining one of our committees to get directly involved or sign up for our newsletter and mini-updates to stay in touch and learn more about your resources in California.
Please call (916) 447-7063 ext. 333 or e-mail for more information about joining the California Immunization Coalition. We look forward to working with you,
Catherine Flores Martin
California Immunization Coalition