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Amendments End California Governor’s Unease On Vaccine Bill

Gov. Gavin Newsom speaks at the Near Future Summit in La Jolla on May 10, 201...

Photo by Matt Hoffman

Above: Gov. Gavin Newsom speaks at the Near Future Summit in La Jolla on May 10, 2019, about how technology and innovation can help reshape wildfire safety.

Amendments to an emotionally fraught bill designed to crack down on fraudulent vaccine exemptions change the legislation's focus just two days before a key Assembly committee hearing.

The bill's author, Sen. Richard Pan, negotiated the amendments after Gov. Gavin Newsom expressed reservations about shifting too much power to state bureaucrats. He now says he'll sign it.

Among the changes:

— Instead of every medical exemption, state health officials would target their reviews to doctors who issue five or more exemptions in a year, and to exemptions at schools where the vaccination rate dips below 95%.

— Instead of limiting exemptions to those used by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it now also allows criteria developed by the federal Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices and the American Academy of Pediatrics. It also permits consideration of "other contraindications or precautions, including consideration of family medical history" if they are "consistent with the relevant standard of care."

— The amendments require physicians to file the exemptions under oath, which critics fear open doctors to the possibility of prosecution for perjury.

— If a child's medical exemption is revoked, the amendments would allow parents to appeal the decision to a panel of doctors appointed by the secretary of Health and Human Services.


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