Update: Gov. Brown signs California vaccine exemption bill

The California vaccine exemption bill – SB 277, which essentially eliminates all vaccine personal belief exemptions for children to be vaccines prior to attending schools in the state – was signed into law today by Governor Jerry Brown (D).

The SB 277 vaccine exemption bill was sponsored by California Senator Richard Pan MD and by Ben Allen, of Santa Monica. The bill was introduced after a outbreak of measles in December at Disneyland sickened 136 Californians. It passed quickly through both houses of the California Legislature.

The law applies to students attending any public or private school in the state, so parents who choose not to vaccinate children for non-medical reasons would need to make other arrangements for their child’s education. Now, only valid medical exemptions, such as known allergies and other medical conditions, approved by a physician, will be allowed an exemption to vaccination.

Governor Brown also reiterated, while signing the bill, that “while requiring that school children be vaccinated, the law explicitly provides an exception when a physician believes that circumstances – in the judgment and sound discretion of the physician – so warrant.”

There is some evidence that the medical exemption has been abused by parents who do not want their children vaccinated with cooperation of like minded physicians. This does worry me, since there are pediatricians who “advertise” their services in signing these forms.

Notwithstanding my concern, this makes California one of the three toughest states for vaccinations, along with Mississippi and West Virginia. And that is good news indeed.

 

The Original Skeptical Raptor
Chief Executive Officer at SkepticalRaptor
Lifetime lover of science, especially biomedical research. Spent years in academics, business development, research, and traveling the world shilling for Big Pharma. I love sports, mostly college basketball and football, hockey, and baseball. I enjoy great food and intelligent conversation. And a delicious morning coffee!
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  • The SFGate story about the bill’s signing included a photo of wheelchair-bound 7 year old child Otto Coleman and his father, with a stack of anti-bill petition signatures. Apparently Otto has paralysis from myelitis, which his parents blame on standard vaccines given “recently” before the myelitis appeared. The parents were at the hearings to complain that Otto would be prevented from attending school because of his lack of new vaccines, because he does not meet the CDC’s guidelines for medical exemption. But I believe that the CDC’s guidelines are only that, because by its charter the CDC can’t require anybody individually or organizationally to do anything; the CDC is advisory by nature. I believe it should be easy for Otto to get a doctor to provide a medical exemption since from the little poking around on the web that I did, some vaccines in fact are known to (rarely) trigger myelitis, and Otto has myelitis, so it is reasonable to be cautious in his case.

    But what’s odder is that Otto’s parents claim that despite being told by four doctors during Otto’s initial medical care that vaccines probably caused his myelitis, none of those doctors told them about the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program. And despite years of Otto being diagnosed and treated by a number of highly regarded doctors and clinics, somehow Otto’s parents had no idea of the existence of that program until after the three-year limit to file a claim had passed. That seems more than odd, it seems suspiciously unlikely. All I can figure is that the delay between Otto’s vaccines and his symptoms was so long that no doctors really thought it possible that the vaccines triggered the myelitis. Anybody have any actual facts to replace my speculation?

  • Sandy Perlmutter

    Maybe there could be some medical society attention given to the pediatricians who advertise their willingness to lie about a child’s need for medical exemption.

    • I think it will become part of the discussion going forward. But it’s hard to legislate to control a physician’s personal opinion. I think it would be difficult to do.

    • Chris Preston

      I am sure that Drs. Sears and Gordon will continue to offer their anti-vaccine clients exactly what they want to hear so long as they are willing to pay for it, making it harder to get exemptions could well reduce the number of parents seeking them. The hard-core “I will never vaccinate” parents will find ways not to – even if it means lying. The less hard core might decide it is all too much trouble.

      Reducing the percentage of PBE exemptions by half will still do much to restore herd immunity and make an outbreak like the Disneyland one much less likely to occur.