Californian lawmakers introduced a bill this week that empowers the state health department to approve all medical exceptions for childhood vaccinations, lift fraudulent exceptions, and maintain a database of exceptions and the physicians who spend them The bill, SB 276, is designed to thwart the state's recent problem that "unethical" doctors have forcibly vaccinated children for compulsory or false medical reasons, often for a fee.
Medical exemptions should only be granted to children who have legitimate medical conditions preventing vaccination. This also applies to children taking immunosuppressants, such as cancer and transplant patients, and those with life-threatening vaccine allergies. However, apparent medical exemptions have been on the increase since 201
In the 2017-2018 school year, kindergarten teachers in 105 schools had medical exemption rates of 10 percent or more. These high rates pushed schools' overall vaccine coverage below what is needed to prevent the spread of vaccine-preventable infectious diseases, reported [LosAngelesTimes .
. Doctors are behind these apparent exceptions, and parents who resist vaccination are looking for them. For example, the state medical office Dr. Robert Sears was sentenced to a 35-month suspended sentence last year for freeing a vaccine from a two-year-old without reviewing the child's medical records – and for failing to perform standard post-hospital tests. The child was hit with a hammer on the head. Sears is famous for promoting alternative vaccination plans that enable vaccine and vaccine-delaying parents to reject or delay life-sustaining vaccinations for their children.
Earlier this month, a media investigation revealed that a single San Diego physician was responsible for a third of all medical exceptions. The doctor, Tara Zandvliet, made exceptions for dubious reasons, such as when a child had a family history of hives, diabetes, or asthma. Zandvliet charged a $ 180 exemption fee to assess for such medical exemptions.
The new bill aims to fill these gaps. Physicians would only have to apply federally-recognized criteria for applying for medical exemption, which would be reviewed by the state health authorities and either approved or rejected. State officials would also list the list of exemptions and list the physicians who issued them. Such a database would make it easier for officials to discover doctors who write unusually many exceptions, such as Zandvliet. Finally, the law would require schools to submit all current exceptions for review by 1 July 2020, which could be revoked if the exceptions are found to be fraudulent.
The bill was presented by Senator Richard Pan (D-Sacramento), the pediatrician behind the original 2015 vaccine law, and MEP Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego). The law is also sponsored by Vaccinate California, the California Medical Association, and the American Academy of Pediatrics, California.
In a statement, Gonzalez said:
Three years ago, we stepped up our state's vaccination laws to protect students and the general public from potential illnesses. Now we see parents against vaccinations and a few doctors circumvent this law by seeking and issuing loose exceptions when families are willing to pay … The true cost is a threat to herd's immunity and public health. That's why I'm writing a law today with Sen. Pan. It is enough to say enough.