California has not punished any doctors for writing needless exemptions from the vaccination requirement, writes Soumya Karlamangla at The Los Angeles Times
Public health advocates are still concerned that doctors are writing improper exemptions to get kids out of vaccines. The number of children with medical exemptions tripled last year, and dozens of complaints against physicians have been filed with the Medical Board of California.
But the way California law addresses medical exemptions has created a challenge for officials, experts say. It leaves the decision of whether a child should be allowed to skip vaccines fully up to the doctor.
Some websites aimed at parents worried about vaccines suggest that physicians could write exemptions for children if they have a family history of asthma, diabetes, eczema or ADHD.
“Is it an abuse? Of course it’s an abuse,” said UC Hastings law professor Dorit Reiss. “The law left discretion to the doctors and of course that means doctors can abuse that discretion.”
In West Virginia, one of the other two states that banned personal belief exemptions, state officials have to sign off on every medical exemption form. The proportion of children in West Virginia with medical exemptions is four times smaller than in California.