By Dr. Mercola
“Anti-Vaxxers Have Found a Way Around California’s Strict New Immunization Law. They Need to Be Stopped.” This hostile and derogatory headline was published in the Los Angeles Times November 8.1 The “loophole” they’re referring to is the use of medical vaccine exemptions written by physicians.
According to this editorial, no more than 3 percent of children “should reasonably” qualify for a medical exemption to avoid vaccination, yet parents of more than 10 percent of school-aged children enrolled at 58 California schools in the fall of 2016 had obtained a medical exemption written by a physician, allowing their children to attend school without every dose of every state-mandated vaccine.
“The new law — SB 2772 — pushed up the statewide immunization numbers to a safe level overall. But dozens of schools have reported suspiciously high numbers of medical exemptions that, if left unchecked, could endanger their communities,”the LA Times editorial board writes.
Medical Exemptions in California Have Tripled Since the Personal Belief Exemption Was Eliminated in 2015
On June 29, 2015, California enacted SB 277, which eliminated the legal right for parents to file a personal belief exemption to vaccination for religious and conscientious beliefs so their unvaccinated or partially vaccinated children can attend school. Now, school-aged children in California must get nearly three dozen doses of 10 federally recommended and state-mandated vaccines or forgo their right to be educated in a public or private school.
The alternative is for parents to homeschool their children — an option that is simply impossible for many single parents or families in which both parents work. The article goes on to state:
“[T]he numbers of medical exemptions statewide didn’t just rise after SB 277 took effect, they tripled, with a few schools reporting exemptions from as many as a quarter of their students. Given what health experts say about the expected rate of medical exemptions, that’s just not credible. Are there some physicians who are, for either ideological or financial reasons, helping parents avoid vaccinating their healthy kids?”
California Doctors in the Crosshairs
The authors note there have been “examples of a few doctors’ offices that advertise medical exemption evaluations for a fee,” and that these doctors are providing medical exemptions for health conditions that are not included in the narrow list of contraindications to vaccination defined by federal health officials at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).3
By and large, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP), which develops CDC vaccine policy guidelines, limits medical exemptions to severe allergic reactions to previous vaccinations and rare severe immunodeficiencies.
According to the LA Times, some children have received medical exemptions for autoimmune disorders, such as eczema, asthma and diabetes, which federal health officials do not consider a vaccine contraindication. Under current law school officials must accept a medical vaccine exemption form signed by a licensed physician.
“The only real enforcement mechanism against doctors circumventing the vaccination requirement is through the Medical Board of California,” the LA Times noted, meaning the only way under current law that the state can limit medical exemptions is for the state medical board to hunt down and punish doctors who think for themselves and stray beyond the CDC’s narrow contraindication guidelines if they believe a child’s health will be endangered by vaccination.