Health Committee Votes Yes to SB276, “Pan’s Labyrinth”
California SB 276 is anti-health, anti-privacy, anti-doctor, and anti-parental rights
Guest Contribution by Alix Mayer, MBA
In June, the California Assembly Health Committee voted to send SB276 to the Appropriations Committee. The bill would eliminate the majority of vaccine medical exemptions that protect medically fragile children. California law currently supports these exemptions.
More than 600 Californians showed up to give public comment in opposition of SB276. The hearing lasted five hours. Fewer than 60 people showed up to give public comment in support.
10 Vaccines & $10 Million Per Year to Combat 11 Cases of Measles
Senator Pan, the author of SB276, introduced the bill under the pretense of addressing measles cases in 2019. However, there have only been 11 measles cases among California’s 9 million children. “There have been 51 cases of the measles across [California,]” wrote the Assembly Health Committee in a post-hearing statement, “It is worthwhile to note that 40 of these cases were in adults.” In other words, only one in a million California children have contracted and recovered from measles this year, so the necessity of SB276 strains credulity. Furthermore, if measles is the issue, it is odd that the bill isn’t limited to the measles vaccine; it proposes to remove medical exemptions for ten different vaccines.
For the purposes of SB276, Senator Pan has taken it upon himself to redefine herd immunity. The CDC likes to call it “community immunity:”
A situation in which a sufficient proportion of a population is immune to an infectious disease (through vaccination and/or prior illness) to make its spread from person to person unlikely.
In the hearing, Pan stated that “the denominator is not the entire state of California. It is certain schools.” The CDC makes no mention of a community being defined as a school. If each school is an isolated community of germs, Pan may want to talk about building walls. His statement presumes children don’t ever interact with children from other schools, and ignores the fact that these children have adult teachers and staff. They also have parents. Adults are unlikely to have had the ten vaccines required for children to attend school. Paradoxically, the CDC blames travelers from foreign countries for bringing this year’s measles cases. So, is the herd global or micro-local? Even if vaccines worked 100% of the time, we have never actually had herd immunity, due to waning immunity, adults not getting the vaccines.
Among the 11,000 schools in California, 95.1% of incoming kindergarteners are considered “up to date.” Since only 0.7% of children have legal medical exemptions, the rate is immaterial to stated herd immunity goals.
Lowering exemption rates via SB276 would cost the Department of Public Health at least $10 million per year. “This is over-reaching,” said Assembly member Nazarian, “It’s a lot of money for a small number of cases.”
A U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)-funded Harvard Pilgrim study found that 2.6% of people are injured by vaccines, indicating the exemption rate should actually be higher to protect more children.
SB276 Presents a ‘False Choice’
During the hearing, citizens told Health Committee members that SB276 gives them a false choice. “I’m choosing between my son’s education and his life,” said a mother whose son was vaccine injured and compensated in the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program. If SB276 passes, her son would not qualify for a medical exemption, even though he was gravely injured by previous vaccines and is diagnosed with serum sickness. Further vaccination puts him in harm’s way. Clearly, “the CDC guidelines …[are] too narrow,” stated the California Medical Board (CMB) in a letter written to Senator Pan, the author of SB276. Health Committee member McCarty concurred with the CMB in the hearing, giving Pan “one more chance” to address the narrow list of medical exemptions.
If SB276 is signed into law, the only ways to protect a biologically diverse child would be to home school or embark on independent study. Since that is impossible for most two-income families, many parents said they would leave California if SB276 passes.
Parents of vaccine-injured children have implored Senator Pan to broaden the proposed list of allowable contraindications to vaccination. He refuses to amend the bill to include conditions widely known to pre-dispose children to vaccine injury: prior vaccine injuries such as Guillain-Barré (paralysis), autoimmune diseases, neurological disorders, asthma, seizures, tics, and genetic differences.
Instead, he added amendments to SB276 that appear to expand the exemption criteria, but are actually pure chicanery. In addition to CDC criteria, SB276 now states that exemptions could be granted if they meet criteria established by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) or American Academy of Pediatricians (AAP). The addition of ACIP and AAP criteria may appear to broaden exemptions, however if you Google “ACIP contraindications to vaccination,” you get the CDC site, which cites ACIP. In other words, ACIP and CDC are one and the same. The AAP only has one contraindication, which is also superfluous to CDC contraindications: “a history of anaphylaxis [life-threatening allergic reaction] to a previous dose or to a vaccine component.”
If anyone listens carefully to Senator Pan when speaking, he avoids vaccine injury lexicon. To him, vaccine injuries are “events.” He continues to use the word “reaction,” instead of the more accurate term, injury, to imply that new onset conditions – whether permanent or severe – are temporary and mild. He even said in the hearing if a prolonged seizure occurred more than 6 days after a vaccine, there would be no risk to that child from further vaccination.
Family History Must ‘Look Real’ to Senator Pan
SB276 also states that the Department of Public Health “may accept a medical exemption that is based on other contraindications or precautions, including consideration of family medical history, if … consistent with the relevant standard of care.”
However, Senator Pan is not so generous with his personal definition of family history. He refuses to define family history, leaving everyone guessing as to what the term would or would not include. However, he is very clear on a few conditions that, in his judgment, would be disallowed.
First, family history only counts if it “looks real” to Senator Pan. He said if someone has a first degree relative with a history of immunodeficiency, a medical doctor from the Department of Public Health would grant an exemption and say, “This looks real, you are being followed by an immunologist.” However, if there is no documentation for that family member, for example if the relative has died or is alive with inaccessible medical records, or if that family member chooses to be followed by a naturopath (ND) or chiropractor (DC) rather than an MD, there would be no medical exemption.
Second, Pan stated that the public health officer will give the “benefit of the doubt” to children if their “event” could have been caused by a prior vaccine. “If we don’t know, we want to give the latitude.” However, Pan later stated, “If we know another cause for the events, then there would be no medical exemption.”
Senator Pan also said that autism and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) were not caused by vaccines. These comments were over-the-top for parents whose child died or started exhibiting symptoms of autism after a vaccine. Unable to remain quiet in the face of more false statements from Senator Pan, the gallery of parents fell into a frenzy of hisses that drew ire from Chairman Wood. He noted the “outburst,” but failed to comprehend why parents were upset by Pan’s callous comments.
If you recall the film Saving Private Ryan, it was based on a humanitarian law stating that a sole-surviving son could be pulled out of combat. Even if three older siblings developed autism or died of SIDS right after vaccination – SB276 would not save Private Ryan, the fourth child.
“It’s not a question of if the State gets it wrong, but when,” stated attorney Leigh Dundas in the health hearing. “When a legitimate medical exemption is revoked and that child dies, no one is accountable. The State cannot practice medicine.”
Governor Newsom & the Medical Board Are Wary of Bureaucratic Meddling
Both the California Medical Board and Governor Newsom support the doctor-patient relationship and are wary of bureaucratic meddling. Therefore, neither supports the proposed bureaucracy in SB276 that would override doctor judgment. To curry favor for bureaucratic involvement, Pan has claimed legal exemptions written by licensed physicians are “fraudulent.” However, among the 179 complaints against physicians who have written medical exemptions, the California Medical Board has only put one doctor on probation.
To oversee “unscrupulous doctors,” Pan proposes a Labyrinthian process that includes a dizzying series of no fewer than five levels of bureaucrats. The bill mentions the following entities can review and revoke medical exemptions: “clinically trained immunization department staff members,” local public health officers, State Public Health Officers, an “independent review panel,” and finally, the California Secretary of Health and Human Services. It would be an understatement to say the definition of some of these positions is unclear. It’s also unclear what the true scope of their authority would be if SB276 is signed into law.
Infrastructure to support the bureaucratic review requires doctors to enter all medical exemptions into the California Immunization Registry (CAIR.) This discriminates against children who could be harmed by vaccination, as it puts their private medical records more at risk than other children’s.
Jail Time for Protecting a Medically Fragile Child from Vaccination?
Even Senator Pan admitted he himself has written about ten vaccine exemptions. However, it’s hard to imagine a California physician ever writing another one. If SB276 is signed into law, doctors would be subjected to unprecedented risks such as being put on probation, losing their medical license or even ending up in jail. If it doesn’t pass, SB276 has put exemption-writing under so much scrutiny that most doctors have already stopped writing exemptions.
If SB276 is signed into law, physicians would have to file with every medical exemption a “Certification of Truth” under penalty of perjury — a criminal offense. It’s not clear how perjury would be adjudicated in the new system, but if a physician were found guilty of perjury, the offense carries a penalty of at least a year of imprisonment.
Second, physicians writing more than five vaccine medical exemptions per year would be scrutinized, a practice akin to “stop and frisk, and assuming the doctor is guilty,” according to Dr. Bob Sears who testified at the hearing. “These doctors have become experts [in dealing with medically fragile children,]” said committee member Mayes, “so why would you cap the exemptions at five?”
Third, a physician could be scrutinized if a school with a vaccination rate below 95% triggers an investigation of that school’s medical exemptions, and the physician is found to have written one of them.
Fourth, even if a physician writes fewer than five vaccine medical exemptions, he or she could be declared a “risk to the public’s health in one or more communities,” even though the bill does not define that risk threshold.
Fifth, as Dr. Sears pointed out, the perfectly legal exemptions he wrote under SB277, would be “concerning… when those [exemptions] were done legally and properly.”
Richard Pan’s Crusade
We suspect Senator Pan’s political aspirations have fueled him to sponsor a series of California vaccine bills. In the 2017-2018 election cycle, he accepted more than $400,000 in personal campaign donations from parties affiliated with health care.
In 2012, Senator Pan sponsored legislation requiring a doctor’s consultation and signature for a vaccine exemption (AB2109). In 2015, Pan’s bill SB277 removed parental authority by abolishing the personal belief exemption, leaving only a medical exemption. With SB276, doctors are no longer the authority, so he proposes to transfer vaccine exemption decisions to the state. We wonder how far his next bill will go. Will nurses intercept children at school drop-off locations? Will Pan try to mandate all vaccines for all children, regardless of the health consequences? Will he go after adults next?
There is a difference between sensible public health policy and zealotry. Senator Pan’s zealous ambitions have led him to misrepresent his proposed legislation to the media, the legislature and the people.
It’s hard to know how far Pan intends to go when he has become infamous for his misleading statements. He has stated that water is the most dangerous ingredient in vaccines due to drownings. When pushing to pass SB277, he said “If a physician feels there is a genetic association, a sibling, a cousin, some other relative is not fit for a vaccine, they can provide a medical exemption for that vaccine…there is no limitation.” Then he pulled an about-face with SB276.
Here are few new Pan-tasy statements from the June Health Committee hearing:
- “There are no fetal cells in vaccines. They are not whole cells and they are washed.”
- “Children don’t get vaccinated if the parents don’t want to.”
- “Every medical exemption weakens community immunity.”
Anti-SB276 = Pro-Health
Governor Newsom and California Legislators fear being labeled anti-vaccine if they oppose SB276. This bill is not pro-vaccine. It is anti-health, anti-privacy, anti-doctor, and anti-parental rights. Being anti-SB276 is not synonymous with being anti-vaccine. It’s just another bill. A bad one. An expensive one. An unnecessary one. Please let your legislator know if he or she opposes SB276, he or she will be lauded as pro-health, pro-privacy, pro-doctor, and pro-parental rights.
Alix is a board member at Children’s Health Defense, however she writes in her personal capacity, and does not represent Children’s Health Defense opinions or positions. In the late 1990s, vaccines disabled and brain-injured her. She was 29 years old when she permanently lost her career. Over the past 23 years, she has spent $1.2 million out-of-pocket recovering from her vaccine injury. Today she still spends about $50K per year to manage a recovery of about 75% of her previously robust health.