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Californians support vaccine laws – new poll diminishes anti-vaxxer power

A new poll from the LA Times and conducted by the UC Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies shows that Californians support vaccine laws. These laws mandate vaccines for students entering public or private schools while restricting the ability of some physicians to abuse the medical exemptions allowed in the original 2015 California bill, SB277.

During summer 2019, two new laws, SB276 and SB714, which restrict abuse of medical exemptions through a loophole in the original 2015 bill, were passed by the California legislature and signed into law by Governor Gavin Newsom.

According to the new laws, in 2020, the state will review medical exemptions by physicians who have written five or more medical waivers and at schools with a vaccination rate below 95%. In a compromise between the Governor and legislature, the new laws say that the state can only reject medical exemptions issued after 31 December 2019, unless that physician has been disciplined by the Medical Board of California. 

In addition, all medical exemptions written by these physicians who have been disciplined can be invalidated.

As expected, the anti-vaccine zealots showed their nasty side by pushing violence against Dr. Richard Pan, odd racist metaphors, and all-around weird behavior. Because of their loud voices, you’d think that they were the majority opinion. 

Apparently, they aren’t.Read More »Californians support vaccine laws – new poll diminishes anti-vaxxer power

California vaccine medical exemptions

California vaccine medical exemptions – SB276 and SB714 restricts abuse

On Monday, 9 September 2019, Governor Gavin Newsom signed into law SB276 and SB714 which restricts California vaccine medical exemptions. These laws were necessary to deal with the rampant abuse of SB277, the 2015 law that eliminated personal belief exemptions for vaccinations prior to children entering school.

A few children have legitimate reasons to be exempt from vaccines, so SB276 made sure that they could receive these exemptions from their physicians. Unfortunately, some anti-vaccine parents, showing no regard for the settled science of vaccine safety and efficacy, found loopholes around SB277. This drove down California’s vaccination rates with initial gains after the law was implemented in 2016.

These parents found unethical physicians who were willing to sign medical exemptions without the physician actually meeting the child in person, generally for an exorbitant fee. The sponsor of both bills, Senator Richard Pan, MD, observed this abuse and pushed forward SB276 to curb the abuse of California vaccine medical exemptions.Read More »California vaccine medical exemptions – SB276 and SB714 restricts abuse

sb276

California SB276 – legislation to limit vaccine medical exemptions – UPDATED

On 20 June 2019, after a long day of testimony on California SB276 from both sides of the mandatory vaccine issue, the assembly health committee voted 9 in favor, 2 against, and 2 abstaining to move forward with the bill which can prevent fake medical exemptions.

This post will describe the amended bill and then shortly address today’s events.Read More »California SB276 – legislation to limit vaccine medical exemptions – UPDATED

anti-vaccine press conference

Anti-vaccine press conference about California’s SB276 – checking facts

On September 5, 2019, Attorney Leigh Dundas, representing an organization called Advocates for Physician Rights, held an anti-vaccine press conference attended by very little press, and organized by anti-vaccine activists. 

Ms. Dundas called for a Department of Justice investigation into what she described as a “multi-year campaign to override laws aimed to safeguard the privacy of minor children,” and made accusations of a cover-up. Note that the Department of Justice receives many and constant calls for actions, so just calling them to investigate means little without actually pointing to serious wrongdoing that justifies it. Ms. Dundas did not point to such wrongdoing.

The anti-vaccine press conference addressed efforts in the early days after the enactment of SB277 to address an emerging issue – fake medical exemptions. But in spite of the efforts to present this as a new discovery or a nefarious plot, it isn’t.

In fact, SB277 opponents knew of the efforts in early 2016 and responded in an aggressive fashion, targeting Dr. Charity Dean, who took the lead in them, with many personal attacks and inclusion in one of their lawsuits. There is also no real evidence of anything nefarious. There is, however, abundant evidence that fake medical exemptions were an issue in 2016 and onwards, and SB276 is directed at a real problem.Read More »Anti-vaccine press conference about California’s SB276 – checking facts

California legislature advanced SB276 – tightening vaccine exemption

The California legislature advanced SB276, sending it to Governor Gavin Newsom for his signature. SB276 would crackdown on unethical medical exemptions for vaccines, which the anti-vaccine religion has abused in response to SB277, a 2015 law that eliminated personal belief exemptions to vaccination for children entering school.

On 3 September 2019, the bill passed by an overwhelming 47-17 vote in the strongly Democratic-controlled Assembly. It was sent to the California Senate, which previously passed the bill but the Assembly added amendments that required a revote. On 4 September, the California Senate approved the bill by another overwhelming 28-11 vote

Like with SB277, Senator Dr. Richard Pan, MD led the effort to get the California legislature to pass SB276. 

In response to the vote, the anti-vaccine nutjobs utilized their predictable litany pseudoscientific and illogical rhetoric making all kinds of laughable claims. Along with a few hate-filled violent metaphors, of course.

Let’s take a look at the bill and some other updates to the political machinations surrounding it.Read More »California legislature advanced SB276 – tightening vaccine exemption

anti-vaccine racist

Anti-vaccine racist threats against Richard Pan because racism

I’m republishing this article to show the vile hatred of the anti-vaccine racist threats against anyone who supports vaccines. This story is about past anti-vaccine racist violent death threats against California Senator Richard Pan, who pushed through SB277, the bill that eliminated the personal belief exemptions for mandatory school vaccines.

The bill still allows for legitimate medical exemptions (like immunocompromised children who need to be protected through the herd effect). Of course, Senator Pan is now pushing through legislation in the form of SB276 to reduce the abuse of the medical exemptions by many physicians with dubious excuses. 

Although Sen. Pan is the leader of the California legislators, who are championing mandatory vaccines for children, others have withstood intense and hate-filled criticism from the anti-vaccine racist crowd.

Read More »Anti-vaccine racist threats against Richard Pan because racism

California vaccination rate

California vaccination rate down – linked to fake medical exemptions?

The California vaccination rate had been slowly growing since the implementation of SB277 in 2016, which eliminated the broadly abused personal belief exemptions to vaccines for students. Unfortunately, anti-vaccine parents abused the law by getting mostly fake medical exemptions (see Notes) to vaccines, which seems to have exploded over the past year or so.

In fact, the California Medical Board had put one of the more famous anti-vaccine pediatricians, Dr. Bob Sears, on probation for abusing vaccine medical exemptions and other issues. In 2016, the Executive Director of the Medical Board of California, represented by the office of the California Attorney General, then headed by Kamala Harrisbrought a complaint against Dr. Sears (pdf).

And in June 2019, a complaint against Dr. Sears was brought by Kimberly Kirchmeyer, executive director of the Medical Board of California, which alleges that Sears signed vaccine medical exemptions for two siblings. Those children did not have medically-recognized contraindications for any vaccines, based on their medical records.

Dr. Sears is merely the tip of a huge iceberg of physicians and other medical professionals signing off on fake medical exemptions – many of these physicians charge exorbitant fees for this “service.” There are several Facebook groups where anti-vax parents share information about these physicians who lack any concern for the long-term health of children. 

As a result of this ongoing abuse, the California legislature proposed SB276, which puts some stricter controls on medical exemptions. Essentially, SB276 states that the physician writing the exemption would have to submit a copy to the California Department of Health, and the department would create a system to review medical exemptions from schools with less than 95% immunization rates or doctors who submitted more than 5 exemptions.

SB276 won’t eliminate all abuse, but it should help.

Unfortunately, until SB276 is passed by the legislature and signed into law by the governor, the misuse of medical exemptions continues. And that might have led to a decrease in the California vaccination rate.Read More »California vaccination rate down – linked to fake medical exemptions?

Ron Kennedy

Dr. Ron Kennedy loses appeal to California medical board for vaccine exemptions

This article about Dr. Ron Kennedy is by Dorit Rubinstein Reiss, Professor of Law at the University of California Hastings College of the Law (San Francisco, CA), is a frequent contributor to this and many other blogs, providing in-depth, and intellectually stimulating, articles about vaccines, medical issues, social policy, and the law. 

Professor Reiss writes extensively in law journals about the social and legal policies of vaccination. Additionally, Reiss is also a member of the Parent Advisory Board of Voices for Vaccines, a parent-led organization that supports and advocates for on-time vaccination and the reduction of vaccine-preventable disease.

On 14 June 2019, a California Court of Appeals issued a decision (pdf) that means, in essence, that Dr. Ron Kennedy (see Note 1) has to provide the Medical Board of California with medical records of three patients for whom he wrote vaccine medical exemptions. This is part of an ongoing saga around Dr. Kennedy’s exemption writing.

Ron Kennedy is a licensed MD who owns a clinic called the Anti-Aging Clinic in Santa Rosa, CA,  which offers, apparently, anti-aging treatments. The Yelp reviews for the clinic suggest he has a long history of filling medical marijuana prescriptions. 

I am going to review Dr. Ron Kennedy’s background and the case in this article.

Read More »Dr. Ron Kennedy loses appeal to California medical board for vaccine exemptions

Predicting US measles outbreak – vaccine uptake and international travel

The locations of the current US measles outbreak (or epidemic) was predicted by researchers in an article recently published in Lancet Infectious Diseases. The amazingly prescient predictions were not based on magic, but on a scientific analysis of two factors – the vaccination rate and international travel tendencies by county in the United States.

And the statistical website, Five Thirty-Eight, took the predictions and listed out what happened during this US measles outbreak. The predictions were spot on.

Time to look at this study and its predicted results.

Read More »Predicting US measles outbreak – vaccine uptake and international travel