I recently sent this letter to support SB 276, a bill circulating through the California State Senate that would close the loophole that has been exploited by doctors who willingly sign off on unnecessary medical exemptions related to vaccines. The bill is presently with the Senate Appropriations Committee, which needs to receive our letters of support. And, frankly, if you live in a senate district like ours which lacks community immunity, you need to write to your State Senator too. He / she needs us our support as ‘cover’ for supporting a bill with very vocal opponents.
Dear Honorable Members of the California State Senate Appropriations Committee:
We are full-time working parents from Santa Monica who support Senate Bill 276, which would strengthen California’s existing vaccination law by allowing the state health department to vet medical exemptions filed by physicians to avoid vaccinating children.
SB 276 would further instruct the state health department to create a database of medical exemption requests. This would allow the state’s medical board to identify and investigate physicians who likely improperly granting medical exemptions.
We wish to register our support for SB 276.
SB 276 passed its first hurdle in late April and is now under review in the Senate Appropriations Committee. But we know that the voices of Californians opposed to SB 276 – can be deafening – even if they do not reflect the views of the majority.
My husband and I are seeing this first hand in our otherwise beautiful beachside community. Consider these geocoded maps of preschools (top) and kindergartners (bottom), distinguished by their vaccination percentages.
The worst offender west of the 405 freeway is Citizens of the World Charter School. In 2017, just 66% of their kindergartners had submitted documentation proving they had all of their vaccinations.
The second worst offender is the Santa Monica Alternative School House (SMASH), a SMMUSD public school.
The only logical explanation for these disparities? There are families who are abusing the medical exemption provision of California’s current vaccination law – and doctors who are enabling this.
We know that California’s existing vaccination law has made a substantial difference in keeping Californians safe. In the current measles outbreak plaguing our great nation (839 cases as of May 10, and sadly rising), just 45 cases have been reported here in California. New York City alone has over 300. We’ve come a long way from the 2015 outbreak. But, the number of cases in California should’ve been zero. As it stands, the LA County Department of Public Health had to order several hundred students and staff at two universities (UCLA and Cal State LA) to quarantine themselves to limit the spread of this highly infectious disease.
Lastly, managing these outbreaks comes at substantial cost to taxpayers. The LA Times reported on May 10 that the current outbreak has cost over $400,000 in staff time. According to Dr. Jan King from the LA County Department of Public Health, local municipalities can can quickly run up a bill that gets into several millions of dollars – dollars that could be better spent elsewhere.
Vaccines are critical to maintaining health and wellbeing. Vaccines prevent diseases that cause real harm. When families decide against vaccinations for their healthy children, they chip away at community immunity which protects our neighbors and friends who legitimately cannot be vaccinated. We need the power of state government to close these loopholes before we have yet another outbreak.
Please vote YES to advance SB 276 for a Senate-wide vote.
Thank you for your time.