Tag: Bob Sears

Who Should Write Your Child’s Medical Exemption for Vaccines?

Why would anyone go visit a new doctor just to get their child a medical exemption for vaccines?

A medical exemption should be for kids who can't be vaccinated, not just because you don't want your child to be vaccinated.
A medical exemption should be for kids who can’t be vaccinated, not just because you don’t want your child to be vaccinated.

Shouldn’t they just get the medical exemption from their regular pediatrician?

Who Should Write Your Child’s Medical Exemption for Vaccines?

As lawmakers in California debate passage of a new vaccine bill, SB277, which would put help stop doctors from writing fraudulent medical exemptions, we are learning more and more about what are thought to be fake MEs and the doctors who write them.

“The exemption practices of three doctors in the records have already come under investigation by California authorities, and many are on lists of “vaccine-flexible” pediatricians circulated online by anti-vaccine parents. Three exemptions were signed by a doctor in New Jersey, and a fourth by one in Florida.”

California’s vaccine battle: Here are the doctors behind Bay Area students’ medical exemptions

One of these doctors practices at an anti-aging clinic, so it doesn’t seem like they are the regular primary-care physicians for these kids getting exemptions.

“SB277 did not substantially change the granting of medical exemptions by physicians, which expected and anticipated that each child would be evaluated by a physician who regularly cared for that child and receiving the exemption applying the standard of care.

Instead, after passage of SB277, we witnessed physicians who advertised exemptions for cash on social media and the internet. Some parents posted that their child’s physician refused to grant their child a medical exemption, so they bought one from a distant physician.”

Richard Pan SB 277 Assembly Health Committee Testimony

And that’s why a state without non-medical exemptions continues to have schools with fewer than 50% of the kids vaccinated.

Doctors who think that they are “vaccine experts” are granting kids medical exemptions because they think that everything is a vaccine injury. Or that a family history of something that they think is a vaccine injury qualifies a child for a medical exemption.

“I’ll tell you what I do personally is I charge the same amount of money for a patient who I see for a medical exemption as I do for new patients coming in to me for a check up or a consultation. I don’t charge any more. In fact, my medical exemption appointments are actually two appointments. I don’t make any more money from medical exemption appointments as anything else.”

Bob Sears SB 277 Assembly Health Committee Testimony

Most of us don’t make any money from medical exemption appointments…

“And just to follow up – is there some other… back to the idea of a specialist in this. Could there be some other standard in which a specialist could do more of these?”

Chad Mayes SB 277 Assembly Health Committee Testimony

There are certainly situations in which a specialist will be the one writing the medical exemption.

Is your child getting chemotherapy for ALL? Then his oncologist might be the one to write the exemption.

Did your infant get immunoglobulin to treat Kawasaki disease? Then her cardiologist might write a temporary medical exemption for live vaccines.

Does your child have infantile spasms? Then his neurologist might write a temporary medical exemption for DTaP.

Why Are Medical Exemption Visits a Thing?

In most situations though, it would be your pediatrician who would write the exemption.

“When we passed SB 277, again as we mentioned, we didn’t really touch the medical exemption, but what our expectation was is that it’s going to be your child’s regular doctor who knows the child granting them… And what we’re seeing is that actually we have physicians… who are not really the primary care doctor.

I mean I find this idea of having medical exemption visits kind of intriguing because you shouldn’t really have medical exemption visits. Either you’re the doctor or you’re not. If you’re the doctor you should take care of them. You have that relationship and if they have an issue with vaccines, you write them the exemption.

That’s it. That’s what’s supposed to normally happen. People shouldn’t be going out finding other doctors for exemptions. If you happen to see a specialist, and they think you can’t get vaccinated safely, then they either submit the exemption or they tell your primary care doctor, by the way, that child should not get vaccinated, we should get an exemption. That’s how it should normally work.”

Richard Pan SB 277 Assembly Health Committee Testimony

Of course, medical exemptions to get vaccines are not very common though. If your pediatrician refuses to give your child a medical exemption, it is likely because they don’t need one.

It's amazing that they didn't know their child needed a medical exemption until they went to see Dr. Stoller...
It’s amazing that they didn’t know their child needed a medical exemption until they went to see Dr. Stoller

Remember, medical exemptions for vaccines should be for kids who can’t be vaccinated, not just because you’re scared or don’t want your child to be vaccinated.

More on Doctors Writing Medical Exemptions for Vaccines

Do Vaccines Cause Psoriasis?

Even with all of the so-called vaccine-induced diseases that anti-vaccine folks come up with, few people likely think that vaccines cause psoriasis.

Bob Sears is being investigated by the California Medical Board for giving these medical exemptions because he thinks vaccines cause psoriasis.
Bob Sears is being investigated by the California Medical Board for giving these medical exemptions. Were they legitimate?

Some do though…

Do Vaccines Cause Psoriasis?

Bob Sears thinks that these kids shouldn’t be vaccinated because “vaccines can trigger psoriasis or make existing psoriasis worse.”

Dr. Bob did his research and thinks that vaccines are a risk to cause lifelong psoriasis.
Dr. Bob did his research and thinks that vaccines are a risk to cause lifelong psoriasis.

He even provided a list of studies that he thinks support his case.

“Nevertheless, the likely very low incidence of psoriasis following vaccination emphasizes the safe profile and the relevance of vaccination strategies in psoriasis patients, especially in candidates for immunosuppressive treatments.”

Sbidian et al on National survey of psoriasis flares after 2009 monovalent H1N1/seasonal vaccines.

Do they?

“The risk of psoriasis was also increased in subjects who reported a history of a recent infectious episode. The analysis by individual diagnosis pointed to acute pharyngitis as the disease with the strongest association and the only one providing statistically significant results…”

Naldi et al on Family history of psoriasis, stressful life events, and recent infectious disease are risk factors for a first episode of acute guttate psoriasis: results of a case-control study

Let’s see, although I’m not sure he actually read more than the abstracts or understands that guttate psoriasis isn’t the same as plaque psoriasis

  1. Possible Triggering Effect of Influenza Vaccination on Psoriasis – a small group of patients (36) either had an exacerbation of their psoriasis, or new onset of psoriasis (7), within a couple of weeks to months after getting a flu shot.
  2. Psoriasis triggered by tetanus-diphtheria vaccination – a case report of a 50-year-old with chronic psoriasis for 6 years who developed an exacerbation a week after getting a tetanus booster.
  3. Psoriatic skin lesions induced by BCG vaccination – a case report of a 6-month-old who developed a BCG-induced tuberculid-like eruption accompanied by psoriatic skin changes one month after vaccination. They went away without treatment within 3 months.
  4. Guttate psoriasis-like lesions following BCG vaccination – a case report of a 7-year-old who developed guttate psoriasis-like lesions one week after his BCG vaccination. He was treated with steroid creams and the rash went away within three weeks.
  5. New Onset Guttate Psoriasis Following Pandemic H1N1 Influenza Vaccination – a case report of a 26-year-old who developed guttate psoriasis after getting a flu shot. Her rash went away within three weeks.
  6. National survey of psoriasis flares after 2009 monovalent H1N1/seasonal vaccines – a small group of patients (10) who either developed new onset psoriasis or had an exacerbation after getting a flu shot.
  7. Psoriasis vaccinalis; report of two cases, one following B.C.G. vaccination and one following vaccination against influenza – from 1955, two case reports of psoriasis after BCG vaccine and the flu shot.
  8. Family history of psoriasis, stressful life events, and recent infectious disease are risk factors for a first episode of acute guttate psoriasis: results of a case-control study – a case control study that “confirmed that recent pharyngeal infection is a risk factor for guttate psoriasis. It also documented the strong association between guttate psoriasis and a family history of psoriasis. Finally, the study added evidence to the belief that stressful life events may represent risk factors for the onset of psoriasis.” The study doesn’t mention vaccines, but does remind us that “it has been estimated that only one third of cases of guttate psoriasis progress to chronic plaque psoriasis, whereas a history of guttate psoriasis is not frequent in patients with psoriasis.”
  9. Genetic background of psoriasisdoesn’t mention vaccines.

So, none of Bob’s studies were in children, they are mostly about flu shots and the BCG vaccine (which isn’t used in the United States), they are mostly case reports (low on the hierarchy of evidence), and a few don’t mention vaccines…

And most aren’t about chronic psoriasis!

Explaining the Correlation of Psoriasis After Vaccines

Is there anything that might explain the case reports that do show an association between vaccines and psoriasis flares?

“Psoriasis can appear in areas of the skin that have been injured or traumatized. This is called the Koebner [KEB-ner] phenomenon. Vaccinations, sunburns and scratches can all trigger a Koebner response. The Koebner phenomenon can be treated if it is caught early enough.”

National Psoriasis Association on Causes and Triggers

Experts also talk about Th1- and Th17-predominant immunologic responses of flu shots and the BCG vaccine’s Th17 activity. It is known that Th17 cells play a role in psoriasis.

Are there any other studies about vaccines and psoriasis that Dr. Bob left out?

  1. Yellow fever vaccine used in a psoriatic arthritis patient treated with methotrexate: a case report – “A case of yellow fever vaccine used in a 27-year-old Slovenian male with psoriatic arthritis during treatment with methotrexate is described. We demonstrate a positive case, since there were no adverse effects in concurrent administration of yellow fever vaccine and methotrexate.”
  2. Live attenuated varicella vaccine: A new effective adjuvant weapon in the battlefield against severe resistant psoriasis, a pilot randomized controlled trial – a study of 35 patients which found that the “use of chickenpox vaccine with low-dose cyclosporine seems to have value for the treatment of resistant psoriasis.”
  3. [Psoriasis is no obstacle to smallpox vaccination] – (I haven’t found the full article yet, but the title is intriguing, since eczema is a contraindication to getting the smallpox vaccine…)
  4. Factors associated with 2009 monovalent H1N1 vaccine coverage: a cross sectional study of 1,308 patients with psoriasis in France – mentions that more than twice as many people with psoriasis in France got a flu shot than the general population.
  5. Immune response to pneumococcus and tetanus toxoid in patients with moderate-to-severe psoriasis following long-term ustekinumab use – vaccines work when you have psoriasis!
  6. From the Medical Board of the National Psoriasis Foundation: monitoring and vaccinations in patients treated with biologics for psoriasis – addresses vaccination practices for folks with psoriasis.
  7. Challenges in the treatment of psoriasis with biologics: vaccination, history of malignancy, human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection, and pediatric psoriasis – actually talks about how UNDERVACCINATION is a challenge in treating kids with psoriasis, as you might have to interrupt therapy to get them caught up!
  8. Vaccinations in patients with immune-mediated inflammatory diseases – is very clear that the “Clinical evidence indicates that immunization of IMID patients does not increase clinical or laboratory parameters of disease activity. Live vaccines are contraindicated in immunocompromized individuals, but non-live vaccines can safely be given.”

The bottom line is that experts that treat people with psoriasis recommend that they be fully vaccinated.

“Psoriasis is a treatable, chronic dermatosis. The very low absolute risk of new-onset or relapsed psoriasis following influenza vaccination should not change its universal recommendation, particularly for patients with psoriasis on immunosuppressive therapy. We present this case to highlight clinical manifestations of this rare association.”

Shi et al on Widespread psoriasis flare following influenza vaccination

There is even talk of development of a vaccine to treat psoriasis!

It should be clear that neither psoriasis nor a family history of psoriasis should be a reason to get a medical exemption for vaccines.

More on Vaccines and Psoriasis

Update on Vaccine Exemption Rates in California

Vaccination rates in California are dropping.

Wait, what?

Didn’t they recently pass a vaccine law that removed non-medical exemptions? How could vaccination rates be dropping?

Update on Vaccine Exemption Rates in California

While SB 277 did indeed remove all non-medical exemptions to getting vaccinated, some folks found a way around it. Since 2015, when it passed, some doctors are giving kids fake or unnecessary medical exemptions. These extra medical exemptions are likely making up for their previous personal belief vaccine exemptions.

The result?

It isn’t fewer exemptions since 2015.

Explain to me how it is ethical to misrepresent the rates of medical exemptions during a measles outbreak?
Explain to me how it is ethical to misrepresent the rates of medical exemptions during a measles outbreak?

While personal belief exemptions are certainly down, medical exemptions keep going up.

In addition to the 0.9% of medical exemptions, another 1.5% of kids, also up as a percentage, are unvaccinated “for other reasons specified under SB 277.”

There are also about 1.7% of kids in kindergarten who enroll as conditional entrants.

Why is that important? Among those conditional entrants are kids with temporary medical exemptions.

And how many kids aren’t vaccinated simply because they are “receiving IEP services?”

So it is not only wrong, it is unethical to try and say that only 0.9% of kids have vaccine exemptions in California this year.

Update on Vaccine Exemption Rates in California’s Clusters

Still, the big story continues to be what’s going on in the clusters of intentionally unvaccinated kids in California and other parts of the United States.

Are they getting vaccinated and protected under SB 277?

Wait, I thought Dr. Bob said that the vaccine exemption rate was just 0.9%. What happened at this Waldorf school? 30% of the kids have medical exemptions!
Wait, I thought Dr. Bob said that the vaccine exemption rate was just 0.9%. What happened at this Waldorf school? 30% of the kids have medical exemptions!

Some actually are!

The MMR rate at the Waldorf school in San Diego was just 44% back in 2014, as a whopping 56% of kids had a personal belief exemption. As sad as it sounds, even though it is still below herd immunity levels of protection, their current MMR vaccination rate of 68% is a big improvement!

Unfortunately, there are many schools with even lower immunization rates. And of course, that means even more students with “medical exemptions” at those schools.

SchoolPMEs
Marin Waldorf School31%
Yuba River Charter64%
Westside Waldorf School37%
Sebastopol Independent Charter45%
Muse Charter50%
Live Oak Charter41%
Nevada City School of Arts31%
Sunridge Charter47%
Santa Cruz Waldorf School34%
Cedar Springs Waldorf School30%
Journey33%
Waldorf School of Orange County33%
Coastal Grove Charter36%
Mariposa School of Global Ed31%
Waldorf School of the Peninsula36%
Maple Village Waldorf School30%

In addition to these permanent medical exemptions (PMEs), some schools also have high rates of temporary medical exemptions.

Medical Exemptions for Vaccines in California are Unusually High

What’s the usual rate of medical exemptions?

As there are few reasons to skip or delay a child’s vaccines, it is lower than those rates.

A lot lower.

In one recent report, Vaccination Coverage for Selected Vaccines, Exemption Rates, and Provisional Enrollment Among Children in Kindergarten — United States, 2016–17 School Year, the median rate of medical exemptions in the U.S. was just 0.2%, with a range of <0.1 to 1.5%.

Also unusual is that in some cases, many of those exemptions are written by just a few doctors. In fact, families often go to these doctors just to get their kids their medical exemptions!

“…the removal of nonmedical exemptions in California was initially effective in increasing vaccination rates, but the substitution between exemption types may render the repeal partially ineffective in improving immunization coverage and preventing VPDs over time.”

Richwine et al on Do Stricter Immunization Laws Improve Coverage? Evidence from the Repeal of Non-medical Exemptions for School Mandated Vaccines

How do we fix this and get more kids vaccinated and protected?

“Beyond fostering compliance, tightening the requirements around medical waivers will also aid in promoting public policies that protect public health.”

Richwine et al on Do Stricter Immunization Laws Improve Coverage? Evidence from the Repeal of Non-medical Exemptions for School Mandated Vaccines

In addition to closing the loopholes that allow some doctors to abuse medical exemptions, it will be important to help parents be more skeptical and see through the anti-vaccine propaganda that other doctors use to scare parents away from vaccinating and protecting their kids.

Vaccines are safe, with few risks, and are obviously necessary.

More on Vaccine Exemption Rates in California

Who Is Larry Palevsky?

Think you know all of the anti-vaccine pediatricians?

“The pediatrician who spoke on Monday night, Dr. Lawrence Palevsky, is regularly cited in pamphlets circulated in New York City that urge women not to get their children vaccinated. His views have no basis in science, experts said.”

Despite Measles Warnings, Anti-Vaccine Rally Draws Hundreds of Ultra-Orthodox Jews

Sadly, there is more than one pediatrician pandering to parent’s fears about vaccines these days.

Who Is Larry Palevsky?

Although not as well known as Sears or Thomas, who were thrown into the spotlight because they wrote anti-vaccine books and were associated with measles outbreaks in their areas, it would be hard to say what makes Palevsky different from any other anti-vaccine expert.

A holistic pediatrician, he was an “expert” for the anti-vaccination movie The Greater Good. Palevsky also often links to and quotes other notorious anti-vax “experts.”

He even appeared on the Gary Null Show – in addition to being anti-vax, Gary Null is among the alternative medicine folks who actually denies that HIV causes AIDS.

So no one should be surprised that Palevsky spoke at an anti-vaccine rally during the longest measles outbreak we have had in the United States in over 25 years. An ongoing measles outbreak that health officials are still struggling to contain.

At the rally, he talked at length about mutating viruses and falsely claimed that failed vaccines were producing a new strain of measles. Women scribbled into notepads as he spoke. Others filmed his comments, sending them to their contacts on WhatsApp. Essentially, he said, there were no studies available to show how the vaccine affects the human body.

“Is it possible that the measles-mumps-rubella vaccine that is somehow being given in this lot to communities in Williamsburg and Lakewood and Monsey, maybe in Borough Park, is it possible that these lots are bad?” he asked, referring to areas in New York and New Jersey with large ultra-Orthodox Jewish communities.

“It’s fascinating because we’re told how contagious the disease is, but somehow it’s centered in the Jewish community.”

Despite Measles Warnings, Anti-Vaccine Rally Draws Hundreds of Ultra-Orthodox Jews

It’s fascinating that a pediatrician would actually think that any of this is possible

Bad lots of vaccines?

Does Palevsky, who runs a Wellness Center, realize that only about 3-4% of the people who have gotten measles in Brooklyn and Rockland County have been fully vaccinated. Most are unvaccinated.

How does that fit into Palevsky’s theories about bad lots, mutating measles viruses, and failed vaccines?

Since Palevsky doesn’t seem to believe in the germ theory of disease, that viruses and bacteria can actually cause us to get sick, it isn’t hard to figure out. For him, of course, it would be easier to blame vaccines instead of the measles virus, I guess even vaccines that these folks have never received.

Sure. It is anything and everything except the fact that parents are intentionally not vaccinating and protecting their kids…

What’s really fascinating is that people are still listening to this kind of misinformation when they can see the consequences of what happens when they leave their community unvaccinated and unprotected.

“I believe in what’s called a starvation diet for kids when they’re sick.”

Larry Palevsky

And that they are listening to it from folks like Palevsky!

“Most of the reason that kids get sick is to move or get rid of wastes anyway.”

Larry Palevsky

But just in case they don’t get better by just removing the wastes in their body or by using supplements, essential oils or herbs and reducing their stress levels, Palevsky is very happy to refer your child to one of the homeopaths, acupuncturists, chiropractors and/or other health professionals in his office.

Palevsky wants your child to “breathe more” when they get sick…

And that’s a clue to why we continue to see outbreaks of measles.

This industry of holistic and integrative “health professionals” goes out of their way to make sure parents are too scared to vaccinate their kids.

More on Larry Palevsky