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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

IUPUI: Researcher Analyzes California’s Discipline of Physician Granting Vaccination Exemption

Mr. Ross Silverman, professor of health policy and management at the Indiana University Richard M. Fairbanks School of Public Health  – Indianapolis, is the author of a new publication, “Lessons From California’s Discipline of a Popular Physician for Vaccination Exemptions Without Medical Cause.”

Published in the Journal of the American Medical Association Pediatrics, the article analyzes a recent California Medical Board action against a physician for his methods in granting medical exemptions from the state’s strict childhood immunization policies, assesses the methods used by states to approve vaccination exemption requests, and offers recommendations for ways states can enhance the rigor of the implementation of their state vaccination laws.

In June 2018, the Medical Board of California placed an American Academy of Pediatrics fellow and leading vaccine skeptic, Dr, Robert Sears, on 35 months’ probation for substandard care in writing a medical report exempting a boy from all childhood vaccinations.

The medical board’s action represents a novel and important development in how states protect the public’s health from vaccine-preventable illnesses. It reveals concerns about exploitable loopholes in many states’ vaccination exemption policies, whether the state permits religious and philosophical exemptions or even if, as California has since 2015, it only accepts medical grounds for exemption.

The article suggests the medical board’s action against Dr. Sears should give pause to physicians advertising or facilitating exemption fulfillment because such activity may invite regulatory scrutiny associated with that clinician’s history-taking and diagnostic processes.Dr. Y. Tony Yang of George Washington University is a co-author of this study.