Dr. Richard Pan Pens Commentary on Outcome of Legislation he authored in 2015, Senate Bill 277 Which Eliminated the Personal Belief Exemption

October 29, 2018

Sacramento, CA – Dr. Richard Pan, a pediatrician and state senator representing the Sacramento area, co-authored a commentary released today in Pediatrics, a journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics along with Dorit Rubinstein Reiss, a UC Hastings law professor.

To view the commentary, go here: http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/early/2018/10/25/peds.2018-2009

The Pediatrics commentary highlights the increase of vaccine rates since the passage of SB 277 in 2015, which abolished all nonmedical exemptions in California.

However, the commentary also examines the rise of doctor-granted medical exemptions. Since the passage of the law, medical exemptions have more than tripled, with some schools reporting that 20 percent of their students have medical exemptions, revealing that many students received them inappropriately. 

“Granting medical exemptions is an administrative, public health function that the state has chosen to delegate to physicians, however the practice of granting exemptions isn’t the practice of medicine—there is no treatment or diagnosis of illness,” said Dr. Richard Pan. “Since the state delegates this public health authority to physicians, the state should also be able to revoke the duty—and in fact, they should be able to retroactively revoke previously granted medical exemptions that are based upon abuse of authority.”

Arkansas, Delaware, Mississippi, New Mexico, West Virginia and Wyoming have chosen to involve their departments of public health in the process of granting medical exemptions of vaccines. 

“There aren’t a lot of physicians granting fraudulent exemptions, but it only takes a few. Physicians are providing exemptions because it is a lucrative business,” added Dr. Pan.

Measles was declared eliminated from the United States in 2000.  However, in the same year, the disgraced author of a fraudulent paper published in The Lancet in 1998, which the medical journal later retracted, appeared on a 60 Minutes broadcast falsely claiming the MMR vaccine caused autism.  Stoked by unfounded anxiety about vaccines, personal belief exemptions to legally required vaccines for school entry rose in California until the implementation of AB 2109, which Dr. Richard Pan authored in 2012 which required parents be counseled about the impact of personal belief exemptions on their child’s health and that of the community. After the measles outbreak that began at Disneyland, which infected 136 people and the 2010 pertussis outbreak in California which lead to the death of 10 infants, Dr. Richard Pan and Senator Ben Allen authored SB 277 in California.