September 13, 2016
We got an ad for Highlights magazine in the mail today. Made me remember the game that was part of every issue, “What’s Wrong with this Picture?” It was fun to play that with our kids when they were small.
I read this article from the L.A. Times today: “California wants to pull this doctor’s license. Here’s how it’s sparked a new battle over child vaccinations.” It’s about how the Medical Board of California is threatening to remove the beloved Dr. Robert Sears’ medical license because he wrote a note two years ago for a two-year-old patient exempting him from “routine childhood vaccines” due to prior adverse reactions. Like the pictures in the Highlights game, the article is filled with bizarre parts that don’t add up. I’m going to try to briefly describe what is so very wrong with the picture the article presents.
First sentence: “Dr. Robert Sears is one of the leading voices in the anti-vaccination world . . . .”
“Anti-vaccination world”? Really? Brings to mind the song, “I’m a Barbie Girl Living in a Barbie World: “Come on Bobby, let’s go party!”?
Actually, Dr. Sears isn’t “anti-vaccine.” He gets a lot of heat from truly “anti-vaccine” folks for not being anti-vaccine. His book on vaccines is very moderate, presenting concrete information on the risks of both diseases and their vaccines. He offers some alternative schedules. He rightly points out that there isn’t any research determining a safe level of injected aluminum for babies, suggesting that multiple vaccines containing aluminum not be received on the same day. (Editor’s note: Injected aluminum is not excreted from the body. Aluminum adjuvant nanoparticles are engulfed by macrophages causing inflammation throughout the body, including the brain. Such inflammation is a hallmark of many of today’s common neurological conditions, including autism. So you might want to limit injected aluminum over a lifetime, not just a day.) And he respects parents’ right to make choices.
But in the “vaccine aficionado world,” anyone who is not in favor of forcing the entire CDC schedule, who allows parents to choose which, if any, vaccines to give their children, or who raises any questions about vaccines at all – such a person is “anti-vaccine.” No middle ground. Vaccine aficionados profess to understand science, which is full of complexity, especially the biological sciences, yet apparently they only see the black-and-white of “pro” or “anti.”
Re: “Vaccination advocates see the medical board’s action as essential to enforcing a new California law that prohibits parents from opting out of inoculations if they want to send their children to school unless they have a doctor’s note.”
This gets to the heart of the matter and is diametrically opposed to what voters and the California legislature were told during the hearings preceding passage of this law SB 277, and it even goes against the law itself.
Per the law:
120370. (a) If the parent or guardian files with the governing authority a written statement by a licensed physician to the effect that the physical condition of the child is such, or medical circumstances relating to the child are such, that immunization is not considered safe, indicating the specific nature and probable duration of the medical condition or circumstances, including, but not limited to, family medical history, for which the physician does not recommend immunization, that child shall be exempt from the requirements of Chapter 1 (commencing with Section 120325, but excluding Section 120380) and Sections 120400, 120405, 120410, and 120415 to the extent indicated by the physician’s statement.
(Editor’s note: As you can see, the only specific mention in the law is an express allowance for basing an exemption on “family medical history.” There is no stipulation limiting what can be used as the basis for exemption, the implication being that the law relies upon the physician’s judgment.)
This is a video of the hearing on SB 277 of the CA Assembly Health Committee on June 9, 2015:
Here are a few highlights relating to medical exemptions:
At 0:33:30, Senator Ben Allen, one of the bill’s sponsors, talks about how important it is to have a “strong and robust medical exemption.”
At 0:40:33 Dr. Dean Blumberg – in the midst of expressing his strong support for SB 277 – says that the medical exemption will remain and it is appropriate that a child’s doctor determine whether there is a medical contraindication, in a conversation between the parent and the physician. He himself is “happy” to provide a medical exemption when indicated, “when parents tell him about their child’s contraindications.” (Editor’s note: emphasis ours.)
1:23:30 Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla expresses concern about need for medical exemptions and the importance of relying on the physician’s judgment and the need to “expand the physician’s latitude” on this since the bill is pulling back so strongly on the parental choice.
At 1:32:40 Assemblywoman Autumn Burke asked father George Fatheree whether he has had any problems getting exemptions for his daughter. Fatheree’s son Clayton had had a documented severe adverse reaction to vaccines, yet his doctor wasn’t “comfortable” writing a medical exemption for Clayton because he said there’s a lot of pressure in the medical field against doing so. And Clayton’s neurotypical sister would not qualify for a medical exemption as there are no screening tests for predisposition to adverse reactions. Dr. Pan, the bill’s sponsor, responds at 1:33:42 inviting doctors to write to his office if they are uncomfortable writing medical exemptions due to pressure or external influences, and he said that as far as he knows “the Medical Board has never investigated or removed the license of a physician for granting a medical exemption for immunization.” (Interesting discussion of “conditional entrance” before that.)
3:00:45, Assemblyman Adrin Nazarian, another bill sponsor, expresses concerns about medical exemptions – requests language allowing for exemptions for siblings, and for genetic disposition to be a basis for exemption. (Editor’s note: Just prior to this point, Dr. Dean Blumberg, in attempting to dismiss concerns about the CDC Whistleblower allegations of fraud in CD science, makes an egregious error by discussing Thimerosal in vaccines. The study in question was about the MMR vaccine which does not contain and has never contained Thimerosal. Rookie mistake.)
3:01:28 Pan says there are no restrictions in current law on physicians doing this. If a physician feels that relative has condition, there’s no restriction on writing an exemption for that reason. He says “we try not to direct unless we have strong scientific evidence,” and reassures that the bill has been crafted to leave discretion to licensed physicians: with no limitations. No physicians have been disciplined or investigated for writing medical exemptions. “They are perfectly free to do that.”
Then Assemblyman Rob Bonta reinforces this, starting at 3:06:25, making it clear that a physician can use his/her professional judgment and discretion, based on all sorts of medical factors without limitation, including family history. (Then the representative from the state medical board comments, but she says that if they received a complaint, they would bring in another doctor to opine on whether the standard of care was met. Of course, another doctor might have an establishment viewpoint!)
From Governor Jerry Brown’s statement when he signed SB 277:
SB 277, while requiring that school children be vaccinated, explicitly provides an exception when a physician believes that circumstances – in the judgment and sound discretion of the physician – so warrant. (Emphasis ours.)
17. What’s required for a medical exemption to a required immunization?
A parent or guardian must submit a written statement from a licensed physician (M.D. or D.O.) which states:
- That the physical condition or medical circumstances of the child are such that the required immunization(s) is not indicated.
- Which vaccines are being exempted.
- Whether the medical exemption is permanent or temporary.
The expiration date, if the exemption is temporary.
Re: “For UC Hastings law professor Dorit Reiss, the meaning behind Sears’ case is clear: ‘We’re not just going to stand by and let you give unjustified exemptions and prevent children from being protected from these diseases.’”
Who’s to say what is “unjustified”? A law professor? But according to the bill’s authors, it was supposed to be at the doctor’s discretion. What standards suddenly exist defining acceptable California medical exemptions to vaccines? Parents have been asking for years for research on who is susceptible to vaccine injury, but instead, these injuries are ignored and/or dismissed as “coincidence.”
Re: “Sears, author of “The Vaccine Book: Making the Right Decision for Your Child,” a bestseller that offers advice to parents who object to immunizations, declined to comment.”
Dr. Sears’ book is of less interest to “parents who object to immunizations” than to parents who may have concerns about the CDC-recommended schedule but still want their children to receive some vaccines, or even all the vaccines on a slower schedule. He is trying to find a middle ground, rather than simply dismissing parents’ concerns.
Re: “The new law strengthening vaccine requirements was inspired by an outbreak of measles that began in December 2014 at Disneyland and left more than 100 children and adults sick in California, seven other states and two other countries. It was the worst measles outbreak in California since 1991, fueled by the number of parents who declined to vaccinate their children, experts concluded.”
False. The average age of those with measles was 22. Many had been vaccinated as children, but the immunity from a measles vaccine wears off (unlike the immunity from a wild case of measles). And some who came down with measles were too young to be vaccinated. In fact, by February 15, 2015 of the 110 California people who came down with measles in the Disneyland outbreak, only 18 (a mere 16% of the total) were deliberately unvaccinated children aged 5 to 19 years. Moreover, the vaccination rate for measles among schoolchildren in California was already high, the outbreak was short-lived, and nobody died – hardly a disaster. It doesn’t take an “expert” to conclude that the outbreak wasn’t “fueled by the number of parents who declined to vaccinate their children.” A more likely motivating factor for SB 277 was cash contributions from the pharmaceutical industry: “Drug Companies Donated Millions to California Lawmakers Before Vaccine Debate.”
Re: “Public health experts say fears about vaccine safety are rooted in a report linking vaccines to autism that has since been discredited as a fraud, based on fabricated data. Officials say the nation’s childhood immunization schedule is safe and vital to public health.”
Yeah, right! All vaccine concerns are due to that that one little study of 12 children in 1998 whose 13 authors must have had incredible hypnotic powers! And while we’re pointing out inaccuracies, that study was not “discredited as a fraud,” and was not found to have “fabricated data,” except by one shady reporter. The U.K. General Medical Council, who investigated the authors for years, did not conclude there was fraud, nor fabricated data.
The 1998 Lancet paper coauthored by Dr. Andrew Wakefield accurately stated that, “In eight children [out of the 12 children in the case series study], the onset of behavioural problems had been linked, either by the parents or by the child’s physician, with measles, mumps, and rubella vaccination,” but also said that, “We did not prove an association between measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine and the syndrome described.” [Parents of a ninth child came forward later saying that they also saw a link with the MMR.]
The paper concluded that: “We have identified a chronic enterocolitis in children that may be related to neuropsychiatric dysfunction. In most cases, onset of symptoms was after measles, mumps, and rubella immunisation. Further investigations are needed to examine this syndrome and its possible relation to this vaccine.” Very reasonable. Should have been met with scientific debate and research, not prosecution and persecution. Would have soon been forgotten by the general public, were it not that this modest paper describing twelve children reflected the experience of so many families.
Journalists, I’m begging you to get past the formulaic scripts you are provided. There are so many adverse reactions reported in so many places – VAERS, the vaccine court, “Hear This Well,” books, websites, the “We are Vaxxed” Facebook page, and the Pace Law Review paper Unanswered Questions from the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program: A Review of Compensated Cases of Vaccine-Induced Brain Injury, that it’s really not hard to get up-to-speed on the real issues. Parental concerns about vaccines are not based on an 18-year-old paper that mentioned one vaccine, but are due to the fact that so many parents have witnessed devastating adverse reactions followed by totally inadequate responses from the government and mainstream medicine.
Re: “If a doctor believed that his patient really was harmed by a vaccine and suffered problems such as kidney failure or inflammation of the brain, as written in Sears’ note, there should be supporting documentation showing proper care and follow-up to a specialist, said L.J Tan, an official with the Immunization Action Coalition . . . .”
Really? All of a sudden the IAC cares about proper treatment for an adverse reaction? But only in the case of an “anti-vaccine” doctor I guess. Of course, these adverse reactions occurred before the child was Dr. Sears’s patient.
Re: “Experts say there are many legitimate reasons for a patient to be exempted from a vaccine: an allergy to gelatin or latex, for example. But legitimate medical exemptions to vaccines are backed up with evidence, they said.”
There are, in fact, very few officially recognized reasons for exemption from vaccines. Dr. Dean Blumberg testified at the SB 277 hearings on behalf of the government, but even he said that most adverse reactions are “random” with no known reason. (Editor’s note: The only reason they appear “random” is because no one at the CDC wishes to establish what the commonalities are. To do so would be to admit that vaccines are not safe for everyone they are currently recommended for.) The CDC’s list of contraindications is very limited. And you might be shocked at the conditions that are not seen as precluding vaccination.
Since our government agencies have a “circle the wagons” outlook on vaccine injuries, generally denying their existence instead of tracking and studying them, there is not a lot of evidence or agreement on how to define susceptibility to vaccine injury. And doctors say they are not taught that in medical school. Unfortunately, one often hears of cases where a child had escalating adverse reactions which were discounted as coincidence or inconsequential, only to have the next adverse reaction be more serious.
Re: “Two of the nation’s leading pediatric infectious disease specialists say they cannot think of any reason why a 2-year-old boy should receive a sweeping recommendation against all future vaccines for the duration of his childhood . . . . Paul Offit . . . .”
Paul Offit? Seriously? Of course, he “cannot think of any reason.” His credibility was destroyed long ago by two things:
1) He believes that babies’ immune systems cannot be overwhelmed by too many vaccines. He did a mathematical calculation resulting in the conclusion that
each infant would have the theoretical capacity to respond to about 10,000 vaccines at any one time (obtained by dividing 107 B cells per mL by 103). Of course, most vaccines contain far fewer than 100 antigens (for example, the hepatitis B, diphtheria, and tetanus vaccines each contain 1 antigen), so the estimated number of vaccines to which a child could respond is conservative. But using this estimate, we would predict that if 11 vaccines were given to infants at one time, then about 0.1% of the immune system would be “used up.”
Of course, an infant’s ability to withstand vaccines is determined more by how much their immune system is stimulated, resulting in inflammatory cytokines that are known to affect the neurological system, including the brain, than whether their immune system is “used up” or not. One might expect the media’s leading “expert” on this subject to know that . . . but I suspect that in this regard knowledge is less important than message.
2) Financial interests:
Then there’s Paul Offit, perhaps the most widely-quoted defender of vaccine safety . . . . Offit was not willing to be interviewed on this subject but like others in this CBS News investigation, he has strong industry ties. In fact, he’s a vaccine industry insider. . . . Offit holds a $1.5 million dollar research chair at Children’s Hospital, funded by Merck. He holds the patent on an anti-diarrhea vaccine he developed with Merck, Rotateq . . . . And future royalties for the vaccine were just sold for $182 million cash. Dr. Offit’s share of vaccine profits? Unknown.
Re: “A more logical step is testing to see what, if any, vaccine is causing a bad reaction, Offit said, and then figure out what other vaccines could be safely given to the child.”
But Dr. Offit, if you just gave the child 11 vaccines, how do you know which one he reacted to? Or was it the combination? How would you figure out which vaccines could be given safely? Trial and error? Try a few of them and see whether further brain damage occurs? Is there some kind of “testing” available that would tell us what we’d need to know, and if so why isn’t it normally used?
This is all so ironic and ridiculously unfair. After so many years of parents crying out for help, for better treatment of their vaccine-injured children, for recognition and study of these injuries, after so many years of vaccine injuries being dismissed as coincidence, delusions, or “one-in-a-million” and therefore inconsequential, a doctor is being prosecuted for allegedly not sufficiently investigating a vaccine injury, because he wrote a medical exemption based on the mother’s report of prior adverse reactions.
And this after Pan, Allen, and Brown all said that medical exemptions would be allowed, and at the discretion of the physicians.
Re: “Dr. Jay Gordon, a Santa Monica pediatrician who also opposes stricter vaccine laws, called the medical board’s action an attack on a physician’s ability to judge whether a patient should be exempt from a vaccine. Gordon said he has known Sears for years and called him ‘seriously dedicated to the health and welfare of children.’”
Yes! One of the few sane and sensible moments in this article.
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