Tag: SB277

Five Things to Know About the Reporting on California’s New Vaccine Law

California has a new vaccine law, and based on the media coverage, a lot of folks still don’t understand what it does or how to report about vaccines and the anti-vaccine movement…

“Other opponents say the law tries to solve a problem that doesn’t exist.”

Elizabeth Aguilera on Five Things to Know About California’s New Vaccine Law

As is typically the case, the problem is false balance.

Five Things to Know About the Reporting on California’s New Vaccine Law

Before we talk about what California’s new vaccine law does, let’s remind folks about what it doesn’t do.

What does the new law do?

It doesn’t eliminate all exemptions, stop doctors from writing medical exemptions, require all exemptions to be reviewed, or revoke all medical exemptions.

It simply helps stop providers who are writing inappropriate vaccine exemptions – or at least keep them from writing more than four inappropriate vaccine exemptions.

How did we get here?

It is no surprise how California ended up passing two vaccine laws in four years.

The state has a problem with clusters of unvaccinated kids. Unfortunately, the first vaccine law, SB277, didn’t fix the issue, as some providers found that they could get around it by writing unnecessary medical exemptions.

Some even found that they could make money writing these exemptions!

The vast majority of kids are vaccinated, so what’s the big deal?

While it is great if a state has high immunization rates, that doesn’t mean as much if half the kids in your child’s school are unvaccinated.

This is known as a breakdown of herd immunity.

It puts kids at risk to get a vaccine-preventable disease, especially if they have a true medical exemption.

Are vaccines dangerous, as some critics say?

Vaccines are safe, with few risks.

What is dangerous, are the folks who push misinformation about vaccines that scare parents away from vaccinating and protecting their kids. Why don’t we hear more stories about them in the media?

So is this fight over now?

While this should be a time when everyone starts to learn about why vaccines are safe and necessary, unfortunately, some are doubling down and still don’t want to vaccinate and protect their kids.

Did the opposition write this article in the Valley News?
Did “the opposition” write this article in the Valley News?

That might change if instead of simply printing what the opposition says in the spirit of being balanced, the media ever actually fact checks what the opponents to SB 276 and other vaccine laws have been doing and saying…

More On Reporting About Vaccines

About Those Inappropriate Medical Exemptions in California

As we wait for SB 276 to be signed into law, we are still hearing a lot of misinformation about those inappropriate medical exemptions that docs have been writing in California.

No doctors have been found guilty of granting inappropriate medical exemptions? What about Bob Sears?
No doctors have been found guilty of granting inappropriate medical exemptions? What about Bob Sears?

Is it true that no doctors have been found writing inappropriate medical exemptions?

About Those Inappropriate Medical Exemptions in California

Well, it’s kind of true, but only on a technicality.

Many California docs are being investigated for writing inappropriate medical exemptions, including:

And others have been called out in the media for writing excessive numbers of medical exemptions, including Tara Zandvliet, Tiffany Baer, Sabrina Sonneman, and Lonna Larsh. And selling those exemptions!

The medical exemptions of Kelly Sutton are still under investigation.
The medical exemptions of Kelly Sutton are still under investigation. She works in the same clinic as Tiffany Baer.

So have any of them been found guilty of writing inappropriate medical exemptions?

“In recent years, however, the board has sanctioned only one doctor for inappropriately writing a medical vaccine exemption in a case that made headlines. Since 2013, the board has received 106 complaints about potentially improper vaccine exemptions, including nine so far this year, said spokesman Carlos Villatoro.

One pending case involves Dr. Ron Kennedy, who was trained as a psychiatrist and now runs an anti-aging clinic in Santa Rosa.

Medical board investigators took the unusual step of subpoenaing 12 school districts for student medical records after receiving complaints that Kennedy was writing inappropriate exemptions. They found that Kennedy had written at least 50 exemptions, using nearly identical form letters, for students in multiple communities, including Santa Rosa, Fremont and Fort Bragg, saying that immunizations were “contraindicated” for a catchall list of conditions including lupus, learning disability, food allergies and “detoxification impairment.”

Dr. Dean Blumberg, chief of pediatric infectious diseases at UC Davis Children’s Hospital and the medical board’s expert witness, said that the exemptions issued by Kennedy appear to have been provided “without an appropriate evaluation,” according to court documents.

Kennedy has refused to respond to the board’s subpoenas seeking the medical records of three of his patients, according to court documents. The board has yet to file a formal accusation against Kennedy, and he continues to practice.

Exemptions Surge As Parents And Doctors Do ‘Hail Mary’ Around Vaccine Laws

They haven’t been found guilty, but maybe because the Medical Board of California has not been able to properly investigate their cases!

That is one of the things that SB 276 changes and why the Medical Board of California has supported SB 276.

“Since the passage of SB 277 in 2015, the Board has faced obstacles in investigating complaints related to medical exemptions. For all quality of care cases, the Board must obtain authorization from the patient or their parent or guardian (if the patient is a minor) to release the medical records. For medical exemption cases, many times the parent or guardian does not want the Board to investigate the physician who issued their medical exemption, so the parent will not sign an authorization. This has created barriers to the Board investigating these cases because for most of these medical exemption cases, the Board does not have enough evidence to subpoena the medical records. Without the medical records, the Board’s physician expert cannot review the case to determine if the physician acted within the standard of care.”

Medical Board of California Legislative Analysis

To say that “no doctors have been found writing inappropriate medical exemptions” is very misleading.

It would be much more appropriate to say that many doctors have been found writing inappropriate medical exemptions, but the Medical Board of California just couldn’t prove their case using pre-SB 276 guidelines.

More on Medical Exemptions

Is California Considering the Strictest Vaccine Law in the Country?

California is close to passing a new vaccine law, SB 276, that will help close a loophole that has allowed doctors to write inappropriate medical exemptions for vaccines.

SB276 in California will not be the strictest vaccine law in the country.
SB276 in California will not be the strictest vaccine law in the country.

But is SB 276 the strictest vaccine law in the country?

Is California Considering the Strictest Vaccine Law in the Country?

To be sure, California is one of the few states that doesn’t allow non-medical exemptions. But that was accomplished with SB 277, a vaccine law that eliminated personal belief vaccine exemptions in California back in 2015.

So why are they back with a new vaccine law?

Do you know why California needs a stricter vaccine law?
Do you know why California needs a stricter vaccine law?

Again, too many doctors were writing inappropriate medical exemptions.

But far from becoming the strictest vaccine law in the country, SB 276 simply catches California up with a few other states that don’t allow non-medical exemptions.

Several states require approval of medical exemptions, which can  help cut down on abuse.
Several states require approval of medical exemptions, which can help cut down on abuse.

I say catch-up, because unlike California under SB 277, these states have strict rules about what counts as a medical exemption.

Doctors in these states can’t abuse the system and write unnecessary or fake medical exemptions for kids whose parents are simply scared to get their kids vaccinated.

Which states?

West Virginia and Mississippi are the main states that have not allowed non-medical exemptions.

“Requests for a medical exemption from vaccine requirements shall be reviewed and approved or denied by the State Immunization Officer. “

West Virginia Medical Exemptions Information

They have recently been joined by New York and Maine.

“May be detrimental to the child’s health means that a physician has determined that a child has a medical contraindication or precaution to a specific immunization consistent with ACIP guidance or other nationally recognized evidence-based standard of care.”

New York Codes, Rules and Regulations Section 66-1.1

But since all medical exemptions in California, under SB276, won’t have to be approved, California is hardly considering the strictest vaccine law in the country.

More on Vaccine Laws

Have Doctors in California Stopped Writing Medical Exemptions?

A new law in California, SB276, is getting closer to being passed, and it will help stop doctors that are writing inappropriate medical exemptions.

So why do some folks think that other doctors have stopped writing medical exemptions, even for those children who really need them?

This is not proof that doctors have stopped writing medical exemptions.

Oh, because the usual suspects are telling them that…

Have Doctors in California Stopped Writing Medical Exemptions?

The proof that Bob Sears is pushing?

Recordings of folks who called doctors, saying they recently moved to California and need a medical exemption because their child is reportedly unvaccinated after an anaphylactic reaction.

So some doctors are writing multiple inappropriate exemptions because others stopped writing true medical exemptions?
So some doctors are writing multiple inappropriate exemptions because others stopped writing true medical exemptions?

As you can imagine, this is hardly proof of anything…

For one thing, with the passage of SB 277, many parents have been searching for “vaccine-flexible” pediatricians to write medical exemptions in California, as that law eliminated non-medical exemptions.

Imagine the luck, a doctor finding medical exemptions that you didn't know that your child had!
Imagine the luck, a doctor finding medical exemptions that you didn’t know that your child had!

That likely has offices on high alert for parents whose kids do not have true medical exemptions.

“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

And although very rare, an anaphylactic reaction would certainly be a reason to get a medical exemption. It would typically only be an exemption to the vaccine that your child had the reaction to though.

“My son hadn’t been vaccinated since 12 months because he had an anaphylactic reaction and we had a personal belief exemption where we used to live.”

But why didn’t they have a medical exemption where they used to live?

And why did they stop vaccinating at 12 months?

Most importantly, if doctors in California stopped writing true medical exemptions for their patients, why is the statewide medical exemption rate at almost 1%?

So no, a video of a gotcha type phone call, even if it really was to 882 doctors in California, isn’t proof of anything, except what you can expect from the modern anti-vaccine movement.

More on Doctors Writing Medical Exemptions in California