Vaccines & Senate Bill 276: Fact vs. Myth

April 24, 2019

SACRAMENTO, CA – To help combat misinformation that continues to be perpetuated by some individuals opposed to Senate Bill 276, the broad coalition of doctors, parents, patients and public health officials that are working to combat fake medical exemptions that put children and communities at risk, distributed the following Fact vs. Myth sheet: 


MYTH: SB 276 would take away medical exemptions from children that need them. FALSE.

FACT:    Under SB 276, parents will continue to have the right to seek exemptions, and physicians will continue to have the right to provide exemptions whenever there is a medical necessity for the child to be exempted from legally-required vaccines. If passed, SB 276 will ensure consistency and quality by weighing all exemptions against the same safety guidelines—the Centers for Disease Control Contraindications and Precautions Guidelines.


MYTH: SB 276 interferes with the Doctor/Patient relationship. FALSE.

FACT:    The American Academy of Pediatrics, the California Medical Association and many other medical boards and associations support SB 276 because they believe the doctor/patient relationship must be based in honesty and integrity, and we must strengthen the medical exemption process which a handful of doctors in the state are abusing.


MYTH: The push for vaccines is about profit. FALSE.

FACT:    Vaccine adoption recommendations are driven by good science, period. Vaccines are not money-makers for doctors, while vaccines account for a small percentage of overall total pharmaceutical revenues. In fact, so few pharmaceutical companies were making vaccines that it led to problems with the supply of some vaccines.


MYTH: SB 276 is unnecessary because there are only a small number of physicians acting unethically. FALSE.

 FACT:    Unfortunately, even a few physicians abusing the medical exemption process can have a big impact on local public health. Even a single physician can create outsized clusters of unvaccinated individuals in a community that put vaccine rates below the 95 percent needed to prevent measles outbreaks, and leave many people susceptible to the disease. Plus, some physicians are known to have issued large numbers of exemptions. For example, a single physician in San Diego was responsible for almost a third of the nearly 500 exemptions issued within the local school district over a several year period.


MYTH: The medical board should act alone in preventing unjustified medical exemptions. FALSE.

 FACT:    The Medical Board can only act after the fact— they cannot prevent or invalidate unjustified medical exemptions. The Medical Board is only aware of cases that are specifically reported. Even when a physician is reported, the Board usually doesn’t have enough information to investigate questionable exemptions unless the parents choose to share information, which will not happen in these situations because the parents are working in concert with the physician. In fact, since the passage of SB 277, the Board has only completed one investigation related to medical exemptions.


MYTH: The volume of vaccines children receive is unsafe. FALSE.

FACT:    Science has proven that it is safe to give children simultaneous vaccines or vaccine combinations and scientific evidence shows that giving multiple vaccinations at the same time has no adverse effect on a child’s immune system. Today, children receive more vaccinations than in the past because advances in medical science have given rise to more vaccines to protect us from dangerous diseases. Children need the vaccinations because the vaccinations save lives.


MYTH: SB 276 is unnecessary because California’s immunization rates are already very high. FALSE.

FACT: While California’s immunization rates are growing, the state’s vaccine rate as a whole does not give a clear picture of risk. Excess exemptions form “hot spots” where there is a lack of community immunity. For example, if the immunization rate for measles falls below 95   percent in   a particular school, the students who attend that school are at increased risk of measles. A recent report by the Health Officers Association of California shows that there are 835 schools that have a kindergarten that lacks community immunity for measles, and 397,887 California school children attend those schools. Those children and their family are at increased risk in the event of a measles outbreak.


MYTH: Vaccines cause autism. FALSE.

FACT: Vaccines do not cause autism. In 1998, Andrew Wakefield falsified data to inaccurately represent a link between autism and vaccines. The study has since been retracted by the journal that published it. Numerous subsequent studies worldwide involving hundreds of thousands of  children have proved that vaccines are safe and that there is no link between vaccines and autism. Further investigation also revealed that Wakefield was paid more than $674,000 by a product liability attorney to falsify his data. 


MYTH: It is better to be immunized through disease than through vaccines. FALSE.

 FACT:  Vaccines interact with the immune system to produce an immune response similar to that produced by the natural infection, but they do not cause the disease or put the immunized person at risk of its potential complications. In contrast, the price paid for getting immunity through   natural infection might be neurologic damage from Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib), birth defects from rubella, chronic liver disease or cancer from hepatitis B virus, or death from measles.