The abuse of medical exemptions from the state’s vaccine law is a clear and present danger to public health. State lawmakers must act now to prevent a deadly outbreak.
Dozens of people have already contracted measles in Oregon and Washington in recent weeks; 37 of 44 reported cases were not immunized against the disease, according to the Associated Press, with dozens more falling ill in New York City.
There is no cure for measles; according to the Centers for Disease Control, one or two out of every 1,000 children infected will die from the virus.
Yet measles is entirely preventable — by vaccination. But only if enough of us (between 92 and 94 percent, according to the CDC) are vaccinated.
As reported in today’s Times-Standard, Humboldt County’s parents continue to lag behind other counties in the state when it comes to vaccinating their children against preventable disease.
While the Legislature’s passage of Senate Bill 277 in 2016 closed one loophole — a “personal belief” clause that too many parents used to duck school vaccine requirements — medical vaccine exemptions remain, permitted with a physician’s say-so for legitimate medical reasons.
Children who truly can’t be vaccinated for legitimate health reasons need these exemptions. But the abuse of these exemptions is skyrocketing, endangering the most vulnerable among us.
Perhaps most disturbingly, some clinics are preying on parents’ unreasoning fears and selling vaccine exemptions without ever having a physician meet a patient face to face.
We urge state Sen. Mike McGuire and Assemblyman Jim Wood to propel legislation tightening state oversight of medical exemptions through the Legislature and onto Gov. Gavin Newsom’s desk.
For more information on measles, visit the Centers for Disease Control website at https://www.cdc.gov/measles/vaccination.html. To contact your governor and state lawmakers, use the information below. Lives are at stake.
Gavin Newsom:State Capitol Building, Suite 1173 Sacramento, CA 95814Phone: 916-445-2841Fax: 916-558-3160
Mike McGuire:1303 10th StreetSacramento, CA 95814Phone: 916-651-4002Fax: 916-651-49021036 5th St., Suite D Eureka, CA 95501Eureka phone:707-445-6508Eureka fax: 707-445-6511 To email, visit sd02. senate.ca.gov/contact/ email
Jim Wood:P.O. Box 942849Sacramento, CA 94249-0002Phone: 916-319-2002Fax: 916-319-2102Eureka phone:707-445-7014Fax: 707-445-6607To email, visit asmdc.org/members/a02/