Does the CDC Determine Medical Exemptions for Vaccines?

California’s new vaccine law has some folks arguing about medical exemptions again.

Yes, the CDC does not determine medical exemptions for vaccines. That's not news.
Yes, the CDC does not determine medical exemptions for vaccines. That’s not news.

Some want very broad guidelines and are confused about how doctors determine who should get a medical exemption.

Does the CDC Determine Medical Exemptions for Vaccines?

Bob Sears even thinks he has a bombshell revelation that clears everything up.

An email from the CDC!

You can be sure that the "medical provider's prerogative" does not include any reason they think up, even those that have no evidence to back them up.
You can be sure that the “medical provider’s prerogative” does not include any reason they think up, even those that have no evidence to back them up.

The thing is, no one has ever said that ACIP contraindications and precautions to vaccination are the one and only factor that should determine whether or not a child should get a medical exemption.

“If a child has a medical exemption to immunization, a physician licensed to practice medicine in New York State must certify that the immunization is detrimental to the child’s health. The medical exemption should specify which immunization is detrimental to the child’s health, provide information as to why the immunization is contraindicated based on current accepted medical practice, and specify the length of time the immunization is medically contraindicated, if known.”

Dear Colleague letter regarding guidelines for use of immunization exemptions

So no one should really be surprised by an email that says the CDC does not determine medical exemptions.

What Qualifies as a Vaccine Medical Exemption?

What are the other big factors, in addition to ACIP contraindications and precautions?

“A medical exemption is allowed when a child has a medical condition that prevents them from receiving a vaccine.”

What is an Exemption and What Does it Mean?

Medical exemptions for vaccines should be based on AAP and ACIP guidelines, current accepted medical practice, and evidence based medicine.

“Medical exemptions are intended to prevent adverse events in children who are at increased risk of adverse events because of underlying conditions. Many of these underlying conditions also place children at increased risk of complications from infectious diseases. Children with valid medical exemptions need to be protected from exposure to vaccine-preventable diseases by insuring high coverage rates among the rest of the population. Granting medical exemptions for invalid medical contraindications may promote unfounded vaccine safety concerns. Although states may wish to allow parents who make decisions based on poor science or perceptions to withhold vaccines from their children, these exemptions should be distinguished from valid medical exemptions.”

Salmon et al on Keeping the M in Medical Exemptions: Protecting Our Most Vulnerable Children

For example, in addition to kids who may have had a severe allergic reaction to a vaccine, there are often children with immune system problems or who have a moderate or severe illness who can’t get one or more vaccines, at least temporarily.

These are among the common conditions that the AAP says should NOT delay vaccination and which are often mistakenly thought to qualify someone for a medical exemption.
These are among the common conditions that the AAP says should NOT delay vaccination and which are often mistakenly thought to qualify someone for a medical exemption.

Medical exemptions for vaccines should not be based on anecdotes or simply because a vaccine-friendly doctor has scared a parent away from vaccinating and protecting their kids.

There are very few family history issues that would make a child have to skip or delay getting a vaccine.
There are very few family history issues that would make a child have to skip or delay getting a vaccine.

They should rarely be done based on family history of reactions or what some people think are vaccine reactions.

This is what a fake medical exemption will get you - a life-threatening disease.
The child’s medical exemption was for “cytotoxic allergies secondary to immunization,” without any evidence that it was necessary. In addition to a fake medical exemption, he got tetanus.

In general, they should rarely be given, as the AAP states in their policy statement, Medical Versus Nonmedical Immunization Exemptions for Child Care and School Attendance, “only a very small proportion of children have medical conditions prohibiting specific immunizations…”

That’s why rates of medical exemptions should be low.

“Between the 2009-2010 and 2016-2017 school years, the national median prevalence of medical exemptions has remained constant, between 0.2% to 0.3%, with state-level ranges showing little heterogeneity over time, never exceeding the range of 0.1% to 1.6% over this period.”

Bednarczyk et al on Current landscape of nonmedical vaccination exemptions in the United States: impact of policy changes

And why you shouldn’t have schools with high rates of medical exemptions or doctors writing a lot of medical exemptions.

More on Vaccine Medical Exemption Guidelines

Last Updated on

2 thoughts on “Does the CDC Determine Medical Exemptions for Vaccines?

  1. #SB276 in its current version supports exemptions that are not within the guidelines if they’re within the current standard of care.

  2. “… allow parents who make decisions based on poor science or perceptions”. Forgive me if I don’t want to inject my child with multiple known neruo toxins. I don’t understand why it’s wrong for me to make that choice. Please explain.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.