Health

SB277 update: Vaccine law opponents cleared to start recall of State Senator Richard Pan

Sen. Richard Pan, D-Sacramento, discusses the measure he and Sen. Ben Allen, co-authored requiring California schoolchildren to get vaccinated, while appearing before the Assembly Health Committee at the Capitol in Sacramento, Calif., Tuesday, June 9, 2015.
Sen. Richard Pan, D-Sacramento, discusses the measure he and Sen. Ben Allen, co-authored requiring California schoolchildren to get vaccinated, while appearing before the Assembly Health Committee at the Capitol in Sacramento, Calif., Tuesday, June 9, 2015.
Rich Pedroncelli/AP

Listen to story

00:48
Download this story 1MB

Opponents of California's new vaccine law have been cleared to begin collecting signatures to recall the legislation's author.

The California secretary of state says advocates can begin collecting signatures in Sacramento and Yolo counties for the recall of state Sen. Richard Pan.

In response, Pan has joined with supporters of the law to form a group fighting the recall. The group is organized as a candidate-controlled political committee under state law.

The Sacramento Democrat and pediatrician led the drive this year to make vaccinations mandatory for nearly all California schoolchildren. Pan's bill, SB277, drew thousands of protesters to rallies at the state Capitol, but it eventually passed. Gov. Jerry Brown signed it into law in June.

The Sacramento Bee reports that proponents will need nearly 36,000 signatures from registered voters in Pan's district by Dec. 31 for the recall to proceed.

"It is not so much about the vaccinations as it is about the defense of liberty," Katherine Duran told The Bee. She's an Elk Grove parent who advocated against SB 277 and is helping to lead the Pan recall.

"The government, as a creature of the people, doesn't have the right to tell the people what they can and can't put into their bodies," Duran said.

Meanwhile, the group opposing the recall will be working to rally support for Pan and his work, according to Amy Alfieri, a West Sacramento resident and mother of two who's co-chairing the effort called "Keep California Healthy. Keep Dr. Pan. Vote No on the Recall."

"I want to be a voice out there and be a voice for my friends," Alfieri told KPCC. "The opposition is a very loud group of people, but they're actually a very small group of people."

A recent survey from the Public Policy Institute of California found that two-thirds of state residents say children should not be allowed to attend public school unless they are vaccinated. 

Earlier this month, former Assemblyman Tim Donnelly launched a separate effort to repeal the vaccine law. He's trying to gather enough signatures to qualify his referendum for the November 2016 ballot. 

This story has been updated.