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Thursday, April 4, 2019

California, Vaccines, and Measles

In The Politics of Autism, I look at the discredited notion that vaccines cause autism. The antivax movement has led to outbreaks of measles, which are costly. There are already more cases of measles than in all of 2018.

Cathie Anderson at The Sacramento Bee:
UC Davis Health said Wednesday they sent out roughly 200 letters to people who may have been exposed to the highly contagious measles virus March 17 in the emergency department at UCD Medical Center. A young girl taken care of there was diagnosed with the illness.
The letter from UC told recipients: “You will need to notify your primary health care provider(s) and your child’s provider(s) of this possible exposure to discuss your possible risk of infection, vaccination history, and other questions you may have.”
One mother, Rayna Souza, told Fox News 40 that she was dismayed that her terminally ill son, 7-year-old Jackson, had been in the hospital’s ED within an hour of the Calaveras County girl who was diagnosed with measles. Souza didn’t immediately respond to The Bee’s requests for interviews, so it was not immediately known whether Jackson was vaccinated for measles.
Barbara Feder Ostrov at California Healthline:
Doctors in California have broad authority to grant medical exemptions to vaccination, and to decide the grounds for doing so. Some are wielding that power liberally and sometimes for cash: signing dozens — even hundreds — of exemptions for children in far-off communities.
“It’s sort of the Hail Mary of the vaccine refusers who are trying to circumvent SB 277,” the California Senate bill signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown in 2015, said Dr. Brian Prystowsky, a Santa Rosa pediatrician. “It’s really scary stuff. We have pockets in our community that are just waiting for measles to rip through their schools.”
The number of California children granted medical exemptions from vaccinations has tripled in the past two years.
A release from State Senator Richard Pan:
Dr. Richard Pan, a pediatrician and state senator representing the Sacramento region and Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez who represents the San Diego area, introduced SB 276 today to strengthen oversight of the medial exemption process which a handful of doctors in the state are abusing by selling medical exemptions to parents.
“Medical exemptions have more than tripled since the passage of SB 277. Some schools are reporting that more than 20 percent of their students have a medical exemption,” said Dr. Richard Pan. “It is clear that a small number of physicians are monetizing their exemption-granting authority and profiting from the sale of medical exemptions.”
“Three years ago, we stepped up our state’s vaccination laws to protect students and the entire public from being exposed to potential diseases. Now, we’re seeing ant-vaccination parents and a few doctors get around that law by loosely seeking and issuing medical exemptions when families are willing to pay,” Assemblywoman Gonzalez said.
“The real cost is a threat to herd immunity and public health. That’s why I am co-authoring legislation today with Sen. Pan to say enough is enough,”
To combat the proliferation of fraudulent medical exemptions, Senate Bill 276 will reshape California’s process to require state-level public health approval of all exemptions. Senate Bill 276 is co-sponsored by the California Medical Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, California and Vaccinate California.
Under SB 276, medical exemptions will be granted by the California Department of Public Health (CDPH). Physicians will submit information to CDPH, including the reason for the exemption, the physician’s name and license number and they will need to certify that they have examined the patient.

Additionally, under SB 276, CDPH will create and maintain a database of medical exemptions, and CDPH and County Health Officers will have the authority to revoke medical exemptions granted by licensed physicians if they are found to be fraudulent or inconsistent with contraindications to vaccination per CDC guidelines.