CARLSBAD — Dozens of vaccine opponents filled the community room at Calavera Hills Community Park Tuesday night to learn more about recent California laws regarding vaccines.
Earlier this month, Gov. Jerry Brown signed Senate Bill 277 into law, which eliminated parent’s options of using personal or religious beliefs as a reason to avoid getting their child vaccinated.
Starting July 2016, children can only use an exemption for a medical condition.
Organizers of the event Thursday admitted the issue is “emotionally charged.”
“This is an emotionally charged subject. I don’t care where on the spectrum you fall, said the organizer’s Public Outreach Coordinator Heather Hawkes. “There is no person that you can engage in a discussion about vaccines who is indifferent,” she said.
While the majority of attendees are against vaccinations, speakers said they believe it’s a fundamental human rights issue.
“I found out about the bill about three months ago. My life changed because all of a sudden I realized the state wants to get between a parent and a child,” said organizer Summer Boger.
Starting next July, parents will need to have their child fully vaccinated to attend public or private school.
The child’s vaccination will be checked in Kindergarten and again in seventh grade.
If a student is past the seventh grade, past exemptions will remain in tact and the child will not be required to receive the vaccination schedule.
Gov. Brown signed the law into effect because he views it as a safety precaution.
“The science is clear that vaccines dramatically protect children against a number of infectious and dangerous diseases. While it’s true that no medical intervention is without risk, the evidence shows that immunization powerfully benefits and protects the community,” Brown said in a written statement.
On Tuesday, speakers discussed options to “work the law,” said Boger.
The discussions included pointers for receiving a medical exemption against vaccines, which require approval from a doctor.
A parent who homeschools his child in Orange County spoke about his reasons for teaching his 5-year-old at home.
He said he fears disease outbreaks, school shootings, forced vaccinations and the Common Core standards, which are being implemented in most states throughout the nation.
He offered tips and discussed problems with beginning homeschooling.
Two local chiropractors also spoke at the meeting, to discuss other bills that are in the works and what steps parents could take to avoid getting their child vaccinated.
Dr. Tyson Perez spoke about State Bill 792, which requires daycare professionals and preschool teachers to get their full vaccination requirements.
The speakers on Tuesday night represent a minority in Carlsbad.
On average, 89 percent of Carlsbad Kindergardeners at public and private schools have been vaccinated for the measles, according to the California Department of Public Health.
This isn’t the first time Carlsbad is drawing attention to the vaccine debate.
In 2013, students from Carlsbad High School’s broadcast journalism program made a film called “Invisible Threat.”
The movie took a pro-vaccine stance and controversy began as word spread of the student project.
Before the film was finished, CHSTV began receiving threatening phone calls and comments on the Internet.
Their efforts drew national attention from media outlets including Forbes and The Los Angeles Times.
Nearby communities are also taking a stance on vaccinations.
The Encinitas Union School District has the county’s highest non-medical exemption rate, with about 12 percent of EUSD students claiming exemptions.
Statewide, 2.5 percent of students claim non-medical exemptions.
This story has been updated.