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A Voice for Choice supports Physicians For Informed Consent

June 26, 2015
Media Advisory
Contact: Michelle Veneziano, DO PhysiciansOpposingCASB277@gmail.com

1400 16th Street, NW, Suite 101
Washington D.C. 20036

June 26, 2015

Michelle Veneziano, DO

200 Physicians Oppose California Senate Bill 277
Offer Alternative Measures

MILL VALLEY, CA – Physicians Opposed to California Senate Bill 277 strongly oppose the proposed California legislation that unnecessarily removes all philosophical and religious exemptions from school vaccination requirements. Two hundred physicians in California and other states call for a “no vote.”

Medicine needs to stand up for itself. We feel a strong sense of responsibility toward the people who trust us to care for themselves and their families, and especially toward infants and children who are among the most vulnerable members of our society. Lawmakers should not legislate medicine; it is outside the scope of their responsibilities, regardless of professional training. The small number who are medical doctors were not elected to legislate medicine on behalf of us all.

SB 277 promotes one-size-fits-all medical treatment and inappropriately interferes with a physician’s ability to educate, treat, and care for patients. Implementation of the proposed law will make it nearly impossible for doctors to deliver individualized vaccine recommendations based on the assessment of a valid medical need and good medical evidence.

SB 277 is not needed. The childhood vaccine program in California is working well. There is an adequate system in place and no imminent or anticipated public health emergency on the horizon. The number of personal belief exemptions is on the decline, with a 19% reduction in the number of parents requesting a personal belief exemption (PBE) over the past two years. Vaccination coverage is at or near all-time high levels (California Department of Public Health, August 2014).

Effective January 1, 2014, following the enactment of AB 2109, California parents are required to obtain a doctor’s signature prior to obtaining an exemption. AB 2109 ensures that parents who exercise their right to take a PBE are making a conscious and informed decision Today, only 2.54% of kindergarten students in California have PBEs on file with their schools, and most of these students receive vaccines. The CDC reports that over 99% of all children nationwide are vaccinated and 90-95% are fully vaccinated.

Lindy Woodard, MD, integrative pediatrician, states, “We believe SB277 is an extreme bill that would perpetuate a climate of fear and division, and does not respond to the actual needs of our physician and patient communities.”

The physicians opposing SB 277 call for adoption of the following urgent measures:

IDENTIFICATION OF VULNERABLE POPULATIONS. There must be continued development of meaningful testing protocols and exclusion criteria to assist doctors in identifying, in advance, those children who do not benefit from vaccination.

SPREADING OUT THE ADMINISTRATION OF VACCINES. If vaccines are to be given, we advocate the administration of fewer vaccines at any given office visit. Clinicians must be able to provide this option to children to reduce the incidence of adverse events as a result of vaccine additives and preservative components given simultaneously or concurrently.

AVAILABILITY OF SINGLE VACCINE PREPARATIONS. Physicians must have the flexibility and discretion to recommend individual, monovalent vaccines instead of combination vaccines. If a child only needs a measles vaccine, for example, based on titers or state requirements, why should she be required to receive other unneeded shots? Combination vaccines have a higher rate of reactogenicity (adverse events) and represent a greater share of compensated claims in the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program. It is not possible to administer an individual measles, mumps, rubella, diphtheria, pertussis, or tetanus vaccine separately. These vaccines are only available in the U.S. as combination MMR and DTaP shots.

The physician-patient relationship is sacred. It is based on trust and confidence that doctors will make recommendations based solely on the patient’s best interests. The decision, however, always belongs to the patient. Coercive, one-size-fits-all medicine is abhorrent in a free and democratic society. It violates the oath that clinicians have taken to do no harm and runs counter to the international human rights standard affirmed in theUniversal Declaration on Bioethics and Human Rights adopted by over 190 member countries of UNESCO in 2005:

Any preventive, diagnostic and therapeutic medical intervention is only to be carried out with the prior, free and informed consent of the person concerned, based on adequate information. The consent should, where appropriate, be express and may be withdrawn by the person concerned at any time and for any reason without disadvantage or prejudice. [Article 6]

We oppose SB 277 and similar bills in other states that seek to remove, or effectively remove, the rights of individuals to make their own health care decisions. This is not the kind of medicine that we want to give our patients, nor is it the kind of medicine that we want for ourselves and our families.