By Lemor Abrams

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — State lawmakers may give California’s strict vaccination law another shot after a surge in medical exemptions.

SB277 bars parents from citing religious or personal belief exemptions to get their children out of getting their vaccines.

Now doctors say the law isn’t tough enough, citing a disturbing new trend when it comes to vaccination rates.

State data show vaccinations in public kindergartens are at a record high this year, at 95.6 percent compared to 92.8 percent the previous school year.

But so are medical exemptions.

In the 2016 school year, 2,850 children received medical exemptions that would keep them in school without vaccinations. That’s triple what it was before the vaccine law went into effect.

The lawmaker behind the law says this rise is raising red flags.

“There’s a very small number of physicians who have betrayed their professional oath,” said state Sen. Richard Pan (D-Sacramento).

Pan says those doctors are manipulating the vaccination law he wrote, writing unnecessary or improper medical exemptions to allow children to avoid getting their shots.

“I think they’re monetizing their license,” he said.

In some cases he says, doing so online.

“They’re advertising that if you’re interested in medical exemptions, come talk to them,” he said.

He says many of those sites have been taken down, but the Medical Board of California says it has opened investigations into close to 50 doctors who may have written invalid medical exemptions.

Sacramento Integrative Medicine doctor Kelly Sutton is not one of them. But she has no problem writing medical exemptions for children who don’t tolerate vaccines, due to reactions such as asthma, allergies, and anxiety to name a few.

“The fact is that vaccine injury is real,” she says.

And in her office, those doctor’s notes require extra patient testing and visits.

“It’s a very painstaking process. It’s thorough. It’s scientific; it’s detailed. It’s individualized,” she said.

Pan just wants to make sure all doctors are as thorough. He’s working with the Medical Board to help crack down on the rest of them.

“When you have another physician acting unprofessionally and allowing other families to evade the law, someone needs to represent the public and say public health requires that we not allow inappropriate medical exemptions,” he said.

The Medical Board says it can revoke a doctor’s license for improperly issuing medical exemptions. It hasn’t had to do that yet.

But when the legislature is back in session in January, Pan plans to review the data and his tough vaccination law to see if it needs to be rewritten.

Comments (7)
  1. doritreiss says:

    It’s not surprising that there are doctors willing to sell fake medical exemptions. We are still better off with SB277 than before, but no law is completely abuse-proof. We can hope that the medical board will act against the primary abusers.

  2. Diane Chase says:

    Of course parents are doing whatever they can to avoid Pan’s tyrannical approach to healthcare. If anyone has betrayed their professional oaths (e.g. do no harm) or monetized their practice via vaccines, it’s Dr. Pandemic. He belongs in prison along with all the big pHarma execs that don’t spend money on making safe vaccines, just lobbying greedy so-called healthcare practitioners with bribes.

    1. I don’t blame the parents who have misled by anti-vaccine misinformation into being more afraid of vaccines that protect their children from disease than from the diseases for acting on their irrational fears, if there are doctors willing to cater to them.

      But doctors have responsibility to use their discretion appropriately. When they give medical exemptions that are unjustified they are abusing their discretion.

      And no, Dr. Pan’s promotion of vaccines mandates protects children. That’s not a crime.

    2. As another poster said, it is Senator Pan who has betrayed his professional oath (do no harm) in his absolute disregard for the facts regarding adverse events and his complete disregard for the thousands of families who have had children or other family members who have suffered serious adverse events after vaccination. He refused to listen to us or take our concerns into account. And as you point out, it’s obvious that medical exemption rates would go up, as most families whose children had suffered a serious adverse event were previously using personal belief exemptions (PBEs), including my own child who began having seizures – not febrile, and the same type associated with the DTaP for decades now – within 24 hours of receiving the DTaP.

      And of course it’s no surprise that #1 astroturfer Dorit Rubinstein Reiss is here commenting, as she does everywhere (it is part of her job, after all). Anyone who has safety concerns about vaccines is of course “anti-vaccine”. Anyone who has a child who has suffered a serious adverse event and has concerns about further vaccination has been “misled by anti-vaxxers”.

      Those of us who actually know something about medical exemptions know that while a child who nearly dies from a vaccine can get a medical exemption to that ONE vaccine, he or she does not qualify for a medical exemption (according to CDC guidelines) to a medical exemption to any other vaccines, despite not knowing why the adverse event occurred, and despite the fact that many of the vaccines have ingredients in common. There is no safety data to determine that my child can safely get the chickenpox vaccine after having nearly died from the DTaP (the seizures resulted in him crashing and they nearly couldn’t revive him). So I will make my own decision, thank you very much.

      There are only a handful of physicians at this point willing to write a medical exemption for children like mine, as the majority have been intimidated by the witch hunt mentality of people like Senator Pan and Dorit Rubinstein Reiss, the latter of whom has written that parents who don’t vaccinate are nearly always negligent under the law, and has proposed a tax on such parents who choose not to vaccinate in order to recover the costs of outbreaks. Of course, in her generosity, she exempts those with medical exemptions, but as noted above, a child like my son would not be exempted from her proposed tax because he does not qualify for a medical exemption from vaccines other than the pertussis vaccine.

      Interestingly enough, people like Senator Pan and Ms. Reiss never talk about the costs of vaccine injury, such as how my son’s initial four day stay in the pediatric ICU cost more than $50,000, or how he needs to visit a neurologist every 6 months, or his anti-seizure medications (more than $80/month), or the cost of speciality testing, or the cost of other hospital stays subsequent to the first one, or the cost of special education resources since his brain did not get enough oxygen during the seizures and that affected his learning. No, THOSE kinds of costs that are directly related to a serious adverse event after vaccination are of course never discussed by these people.

  3. Pan is already trying to resort to this with his infamous SB18, Bill of Rights for the Children and Youth of California. The man is a megalomaniac with “Mengele instability.” These sorts of people were put down after the Geneva Conveniton.

  4. Vaccination in CA is at an all-time high. Medical exemptions are at an all-time high. Yet there is no mention that AUTISM is at an ALL-TIME HIGH!!! Autism is up 7% in CA for 2016. Senator Pan worries about the public health? Then he should work to get fluoride out of our drinking water. Stop fracking. Stop chemtrails. Eliminate glyphosate from school parks and grounds Label GMOs. Shame on Senator Pan for not caring about ALL kids.

  5. Carly Harlow says:


    Give a parent who has a sick and medically exempt kid two options, either jump through tons of hoops for an exemption, or just sign a paper. Which would they do? Sign the paper. That’s what parents use to do. They didn’t HAVE to jump through hoops before, so they didn’t. But now, it’s their only option.

    If you give one set of mice food, and make another group of mice go through a maze for their food…. but later only give food to mice who go through the maze, you wouldn’t report that more mice suddenly like doing mazes. You realize that mice need the food, and you made it harder to get.

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