Tag: California

Is SB 276 a Civil Rights Issue?

Wait, what? SB 276? The vaccine bill in California? Why are some folks thinking that SB 276 is a civil rights issue?

How is SB 276 a civil rights issue?
How is SB 276 a civil rights issue?

Oh, it’s the usual suspects again…

Is SB 276 a Civil Rights Issue?

Surprisingly, this isn’t the first time that Bob Sears has promoted the idea that vaccine laws were the same as segregation and other civil rights issues.

“In my opinion, this is a new type of discrimination at its worst. It’s taking a new class of vulnerable children — the vaccine-compromised — and saying that because they refuse to finish their damn shots, they don’t get school. Forget separate but equal. This is separate … and NOTHING! No school at all. Soon it’s going to be no playgrounds and no drinking fountains either. Hey, the last time our government did this to a group of people, at least they GOT drinking fountains. They even got to ride buses, as long as they sat in the back. Because our government said “those people” were not safe for the rest of us to be around, and our society stood by and let it happen. And the discrimination we perpetrated on our equals so many years ago is one of the great evils our country is still guilty of. Is that what this article, and the California SB 276 bill it’s supporting, is asking us to go back to?”

Bob Sears

Are parents who can’t send their kids to school because they choose to intentionally skip or delay vaccines really the same as kids who are discriminated against because of their race?

SB 276 promotes segregation?
SB 276 promotes segregation?

Is SB 276, which simply eliminates the loophole that allows doctors to write inappropriate medical exemptions, really a civil rights issue?

An upside down American flag to protest a law to get kids vaccinated and protected?
An upside down American flag to protest a law to get kids vaccinated and protected?

Is SB 276 really like racism, human trafficking, LGBT discrimination, gun violence, refugee rights, sexual harassment and assault, and continued discrimination for people with disabilities, etc.?

If anything, SB 276 protects the civil rights of students with disabilities.

Consider kids with true medical exemptions who get quarantined when an intentionally unvaccinated child starts an outbreak.

“During an outbreak or potential outbreak of a vaccine-preventable disease such as measles, school officials should follow existing laws and policies in a non-discriminatory manner, and should seek guidance from and defer to public health authorities in considering whether, for these students with disabilities, school officials can continue to safely make a reasonable modification to a policy, practice, or procedure that otherwise requires vaccinations in order to attend school.”

Addressing the Risk of Measles in Schools while Protecting the Civil Rights of Students with Disabilities

By eliminating unnecessary exemptions and getting more kids vaccinated and protected, SB 276 will help to stop the outbreaks that have been on the rise. It will help kids with true medical exemptions avoid quarantines and stay in school.

More on Vaccine Discrimination

What Is Standard of Care?

Anti-vaccine folks who are talking about “standard of care” when deciding who gets a medical exemption for vaccines obviously don’t really understand what it means.

Why are these advocating against keeping kids protected against life-threatening vaccine-preventable diseases?
Why are these advocating against keeping kids protected against life-threatening vaccine-preventable diseases?

Maybe that’s why they put standard of care in quotes in the above infographic against SB276, a new vaccine bill in California that will eliminate fake vaccine exemptions.

What Is Standard of Care?

When we talk about standard of care in medicine, it is important to understand that it is a legal term, with a legal definition:

“That which a minimally competent physician in the same field would do under similar circumstances”

Moffett et al on The Standard of Care: Legal History and Definitions: the Bad and Good News

Does this mean that the minimally competent physicians can choose whatever criteria they want to write fake medical exemptions for vaccines?

Of course not!

“Treatment that is accepted by medical experts as a proper treatment for a certain type of disease and that is widely used by healthcare professionals. Also called best practice, standard medical care, and standard therapy.”

NCI Dictionary of Cancer Terms

Just because a few doctors do something a certain way, that doesn’t make it the proper way for it to be done.

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.

And that’s why a doctor making up their own rules for what counts as a vaccine medical exemption, especially when it goes against published guidelines and advice, isn’t standard of care.

More on Standard of Care

Vaccines and Homeschooling Myths

Do many parents homeschool their kids because they don’t want to get them vaccinated and comply with vaccination laws?

Vaccines and Homeschooling Myths

Opponents to a vaccine law in California that removed personal belief vaccine exemptions, SB277, claimed that it would lead all children currently receiving personal belief exemptions to leave those schools and become homeschoolers.

One problem with this idea is that even though 32 states don’t allow personal belief vaccine exemptions, avoiding vaccines laws is not a top reason for why most parents choose to homeschool their kids.

“Parents cite a number of different reasons for choosing to homeschool, including concerns about the school environment and desires to provide religious/moral instruction.15 In fact, a Department of Education study says that 38.4 percent of respondents claim they are homeschooling for religious reasons,16 while Christopher Klicka suggests in his book, The Right to Home School, that it is closer to 85 percent.”

Khalili et al on Off the grid: vaccinations among homeschooled children

Instead, most parents homeschool because of:

  • academic reasons – thinking they can provide a better education for their kids at home and dissatisfaction with public or private school
  • family reasons – such as a child with special needs, not being able to get into the right school, transportation issues, or simply wanting more family time
  • religious reasons – including providing religious instruction at home
  • social reasons – including negative social activity and exposures at public and private schools

The availability of virtual education, cyber schools, and charter homeschools has likely also been a factor in some parents choosing to homeschool their kids.

What about vaccines?

In one article, Homeschooling parents’ practices and beliefs about childhood immunizations, only five parents (4%) included a desire not to vaccinate children as a reason for homeschooling.

Also, homeschooling rates are about the same in every state, just over 3% of students. A few outliers include Delaware (2.1%), North Carolina (7.7%), Pennsylvania (1.1%), West Virginia (4.6%), and Wisconsin (1.6%).

Of these states, only West Virginia doesn’t allow non-medical exemptions. But neither does Mississippi, which has very average homeschooling rates (3%).

Are Anti-vaxxers Turning to Homeschooling?

If anti-vaxxers are truly turning to homeschooling to avoid getting their kids vaccinated, we might have expected to see it happen in 2015, when California passed SB 277. That law eliminated non-medical vaccine exemptions and has been in effect since the 2016-2017 school year.

Orange County was the site of several large measles outbreaks before SB 277 took effect.
Orange County was the site of several large measles outbreaks before SB 277 took effect.

Although California is dealing with fake medical exemptions, there has not been a lot of evidence that many folks are homeschooling, leaving schools, or leaving the state after SB277 because they now have had to vaccinate and protect their kids.

“The law, however, does not apply to children who are home-schooled, a loophole that parents seem to be increasingly exploiting. Over the past three years, the number of kindergartners who were home-schooled and did not have their shots quadrupled, according to a Times analysis of state data.”

Parents who won’t vaccinate their kids turning to home-schooling in California, data show

While there were more homeschoolers last year in California (3%), the rise in homeschooling in California is also being seen in many states without new vaccine laws.

“Home-schooling mothers were concerned about SB-277 but did not report that it was directly impacting their children, their vaccine decisions, or reason to home school.”

McDonald et al on Exploring California’s new law eliminating personal belief exemptions to childhood vaccines and vaccine decision-making among homeschooling mothers in California

And, according to the Los Angeles Times, only “1.2% of the state’s kindergartners were home-schooled and unvaccinated in the last school year.”

The Homeschool Vaccine Loophole

It is also important to note that many states already have laws requiring homeschooled students to be vaccinated!

So yes, it is correct to say that the parents who are switching to homeschooling to avoid vaccinating and protecting their kids are exploiting a loophole.

“Submit proof of vaccination and receipt of any health services or examinations as required by law.”

Home Schooling in Tennessee

Interestingly, North Carolina, with one of the highest rates of homeschoolers, requires that homeschooled children be vaccinated.

Is being able to homeschool without vaccines a loophole that will have to be closed?

“And though most of their schooling may take place at home, many are part of programs that meet several times a week with other students. If one contracted a disease such as measles, they could still spread it at the park, or the grocery store, or anywhere they come into contact with other people, said Dr. James Cherry, a UCLA expert on pediatric infectious diseases.”

Parents who won’t vaccinate their kids turning to home-schooling in California, data show

It will likely depend if we end up seeing outbreaks among clusters of unvaccinated homeschoolers…

“During the six weeks after the gathering, a total of 34 cases of measles were confirmed. Of the patients with confirmed measles, 94 percent were unvaccinated, 88 percent were less than 20 years of age, and 9 percent were hospitalized. Of the 28 patients who were 5 to 19 years of age, 71 percent were home-schooled. “

Parker et al on Implications of a 2005 measles outbreak in Indiana for sustained elimination of measles in the United States.

Few people will remember the 2005 measles outbreak in Indiana that occurred mostly among intentionally unvaccinated homeschoolers and cost over $167,000 to contain. At the time, it was “the largest documented outbreak of measles in the United States since 1996.”

And it is likely that few people know about the two unvaccinated homeschooled kids in Oklahoma who got tetanus in 2012, including an 8-year-old who was in the ICU for 18 days…

What to Know About Vaccines and Homeschooling

Parents who homeschool their kids should get their kids vaccinated and protected on time and on schedule and follow all of the other AAP recommendations for preventative health care.

More on Vaccines and Homeschooling Myths

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, SB276, 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 276 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 276 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 276 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 276 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