Governor Signs Legislation SB 742 to Protect Our Right to Get Vaccinated
While federal, state and local governments are doing better each day distributing COVID-19 vaccines and educating the public, anti-vaccine extremists are escalating their tactics to disrupt and stop these efforts
SACRAMENTO – Governor Gavin Newsom signed SB 742 on Friday, a bill authored by Dr. Richard Pan to give local officials the tools they need to keep extremists from harassing and intimidating patients and front-line workers when getting the vaccine.
“Thank you, Governor Newsom, for protecting everyday Californians who made the decision to protect themselves and their families by getting the vaccine from harassment and violence by anti-vaccine extremists,” said Dr. Richard Pan. “Health care workers administering vaccines and saving lives need local officials to have SB742 to keep them and their patients safe from extremists who obstruct and threaten people with violence and loss of privacy for participating in COVID-19 vaccination clinics.”
“Throughout the past year, we’ve seen hordes of anti-vaccine ‘activists’ threaten and terrorize people who simply want to do their civic duty to end the pandemic and protect themselves by getting the COVID-19 vaccine. SB 742 is a critical measure that will ensure everyone can get a vaccine without fearing for their safety. I want to thank Senator Pan for his leadership on this issue and for being a strong champion of science and health,” said Senator Scott Wiener.
“As we continue to fight our way out of this pandemic, we must ensure that the remaining millions of Californians that have yet to receive their vaccine can do so without fear of intimidation or assault,” said Assemblymember Weber. “SB 742 strikes a balance between the rights of those who make a personal choice about how they wish to address their healthcare and safety with the personal rights of those who wish to protest their oppositions.”
SB 742 was sponsored by ProtectUS, non-profit with the goal of battling misinformation and advocating for evidence-based health policies. “People shouldn’t be harassed when they are trying to get a life-saving vaccine. We can protect speech and our right to be safely vaccinated,” said Crystal Strait of ProtectUS.
“We students applaud Gov. Newsom for his fearless leadership and signing SB742 into law--sending a clear message that obstruction and intimidation by antivaxxers at vaccine clinics will no longer be tolerated. As much as the right to free speech and protest are important, the right to be vaccinated to protect ourselves without getting bullied is equally important. SB742 also protects the safety of the healthcare workers who are tirelessly volunteering at the clinics. We are also very thankful to ProtectUS for allowing students to speak to legislators in support of SB742. We are incredibly thrilled that SB742 is now law and are proud contributors to this historic moment! We sincerely hope other states soon follow through as well,” said Arin, 14 years old, 9th grade in San Jose, California and Founder of Teens for Vaccines.
“We deeply appreciate Governor Newsom standing up for people who wish to protect themselves, their families and their community. The pandemic has shown us that far too many people face a wide variety of barriers to getting the health care they need and we cannot allow obstruction, intimidation, hostility to be additional barriers,” said Kimiya, 17 years old, 12th grade in Fresno, California and Co-Director of Innovation and Strategy of GENup.
“The COVID Vaccines are safe and effective - and in the United States alone, we have administered tens of millions of doses – 3 million Americans are vaccinated every day. Our children and our families have been through enough. We have been waiting for this moment and have been working toward getting back to our lives. We must ensure the safety of the public and professionals to accomplish this goal.” Said Catherine Flores Martin, Executive Director of the California Immunization Coalition, a statewide nonprofit with the mission of ensuring that everyone has access to lifesaving vaccines.
SB 742 will protect the rights of people to safely receive vaccinations without concern for intimidation or physical obstruction by protestors, while preserving the right of protesters to assemble. Specifically, under SB 742, a person would not be permitted to physically obstruct or intimidate at a vaccine clinic and all individuals who engage in pickets at a vaccine clinic would need to stay at a designated distance from the clinic. This bill sets violations of this law punishable by a fine of up to $1,000, imprisonment of up to 6 months, or both.
COVID-19 Vaccinations are given at a variety of vaccination sites, such as hospitals, physician offices, clinics, and other retail spaces and pop-up locations. The unprecedented scope of COVID-19 vaccination efforts has required the use of unconventional venues such as fairgrounds or stadiums for vaccination sites. However, the legal code has not yet evolved to account for these changes, and current laws do not adequately empower law enforcement to balance the first amendment rights to free speech with the right to receive healthcare at vaccination sites.
In the most talked about example, an anti-vaccine mob descended onto a large-scale vaccination site at Dodger stadium in Los Angeles, where they used intimidation and physical obstruction to keep people from getting vaccinated and they forced a temporary closure of the site. In the weeks since, anti-vaccine extremists have targeted other vaccine sites where they have tried to frighten community members with extreme anti-vaccine propaganda.
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