I am writing today in light of the most recently amended version of SB 276. I am a fourth generation California native, an attorney, wife and mother of two boys.
In light of current measles outbreaks and an increase in medical exemptions given to children in California, SB 276 is being promoted as a bill that will protect Californian’s by going after doctors who are writing “fake” or “fraudulent” medical exemptions. Our Senators have already determined that this issue is important enough to warrant the spending of over $10 million dollars a year to fix – despite the harm and discrimination that it may bring to families who have already suffered an injury due to vaccines.
Let me be clear. The amended bill does not solve the problem which precipitated the amendment.
Under the amended bill, state employees (“clinically trained immunization staff members” NOT doctors) are making discretionary vaccine exemption decisions and by doing so are engaging in the unauthorized practice of medicine which is illegal in the state of California and something our Governor publicly criticized.
In addition, this amendment does nothing to broaden the guidelines for physicians to write medical exemptions and children such as my son, who suffered multiple seizures, four first responder calls, and a multi-day hospital stay in isolation at CHOC, would not qualify for an exemption under SB 276.
In the hearings for SB 277, Senator Pan stated “If the physician feels there is a genetic association, with a sibling, a cousin, some other relative, it’s not safe for a vaccine, they can provide a medical exemption for that vaccine. There is no limitation….” Now he is backtracking and claiming that doctors who are following his word are actually committing fraud. Or that we have a problem in the state because only a handful of doctors are writing these exemptions and charging patients for doing so. I don’t doubt that there are only a few doctors who are brave enough to write medical exemptions today and if SB 276 passes we will have no doctor left willing to write one. This is despite the fact that there has not been a single case of misconduct found by the Medical Board of California regarding vaccine exemptions despite its review of over 150 “complaints.” This bill harms and discriminates against our medically fragile children by chilling all access they might have to a classroom education.
As both a parent of a harmed child and an attorney, it is so difficult to stomach all of the misleading information given to you and the public by the proponents of this bill. The hearing is tomorrow and I still have to travel from Southern California to Sacramento to be there, so I don’t have time to break down the entire amended bill line by line for you. However, I think it’s sufficient to just look at Section 1 which is the legislative intent behind the bill in order for you to see how grossly this bill is misrepresenting things.
(c) According to the State Department of Public Health immunization assessment for the 2018-2019 school year:
- The immunization rate, or the rate at which children attending school are fully vaccinated on schedule, for kindergarten-aged children was 94.8 percent, which is 0.3 percent less than the previous school year.
This rate is actually a 4.6% INCREASE over the five years since 2013-2014 and is the 3rd highest rate reported since 2001 (wasn’t measles deemed eliminated at that time?) Also, reading this one might assume that if 94.8 percent where vaccinated, that the other 5.2% have medical exemptions but this is not the case. Medical exemptions total .9%. The remaining population is comprised of conditional entrants (1.7%), others lacking required immunizations e.g. independent study, IEP, homeschool (1.5%), and overdue (1.1%). Medical exemptions are not significantly impacting the state of California’s overall immunization levels.
(2) Of the schools reporting, 16 percent of California counties had kindergarten immunization rates below 90 percent.
This is misleading. True that 9 of the 58 counties in California had rates below 90% but the total children in those counties represent only 2% of all of California’s kindergarten population and within those counties only 486 children have medical exemptions (.09% – not even a tenth of a percent of the California kindergarten population). Medical exemptions in these counties are not significantly impacting immunization levels in California.
(d) By May 2019, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported 1,022 cases of the measles nationwide. Fifty-one of those incidences were in California.
How many of the 51 cases in California were in school aged-children? According to the California Department of Public Health, only 10 cases in 2019 (11 if you count the one from Dec 2018) were in children under 18 years of age. Even more significant is the fact that the maximum number of children who may have had the measles in one of the 9 counties where immunization rates were below 90% is 3 (we don’t know the exactly because data from counties with populations less than 250,000 are not individually displayed on the CDPH website).
Regardless, Fifty-one of 1,022 cases nationwide is 5%. The population in California is 12% of the nation. The truth is that we aren’t having a problem with the measles in our state particularly not in school-aged children. Medical exemptions are not causing the measles or creating any other outbreak problem in California and spending $10 million dollars a year to fix something that doesn’t appear to be broken is exactly why voters are beginning to turn away from the democratic party in this state.
(e) For all but a small number of individuals, immunizations are safe and effective.
Thank you for admitting that there are some people who immunizations are not safe or effective for. We have less than 1% of children in kindergarten with medical exemptions. Isn’t less than 1% a very “small number of individuals” who are worthy and deserving of our protection? My son is worth protecting. He should not be denied a classroom based education simply because he was among the small number of individuals that found out too late that immunizations were not safe for them.
I hope and pray that you have read this letter and that you can see the truth of how this is playing out. In summary:
- We don’t have a problem with too many medical exemptions in California.
- We don’t have a problem with measles in our school-aged-children.
- This bill harms medical fragile children like my son and harms the doctor-patient relationship.
- This bill appoints someone who is not a medical doctor, to make discretionary medical judgments without seeing the patient (also known as the unlawful practicing of medicine without a license).
- This bill is a gross government overreach with an exorbitant price tag to both taxpayers and our school districts.
And I haven’t even begun to address the problems of privacy rights that this bill infringes upon.…
For all of the reasons stated herein, I respectfully urge you to vote no on SB 276.