Medical Board Charges San Diego Doctor Who’s Doled Out Dozens of Vaccine Exemptions
Speaker 1: 00:00 A San Diego doctor is facing charges of negligence after issuing at least a thousand medical vaccine exemptions for school children. Dr Tara Zan fleet of South park is one of three doctors. The California medical board says granted inappropriate vaccine exemptions since 2015 that was the year the state eliminated the personal belief exemption that allowed children to avoid vaccinations if their parents had religious or ethical objections to them. Since then, the only exemption is medical and as voice of San Diego published earlier this year, some doctors like Zen fleet have been writing a whole lot of them. Joining me by Skype is voice of San Diego education reporter will Huntsburg and we'll welcome to the program. Hi Maureen. Thanks for having me. Dr Tara Zan Vliet admits to having written at least a thousand medical exemptions for vaccinations. How did you uncover this story? Well, Speaker 2: 00:55 I first started writing about terrorism [inaudible]. Um, last March I had done a public records request into San Diego unified school district to find, try to find out how many exemptions were being written and who was writing them. And as soon as I got those documents back, they were immediately kind of shocking because a doctor, Tarzan bleeds name shows up far more than anyone else's. She's written a third of the medical exemptions in San Diego unified school district Speaker 1: 01:27 and San Diego unified. Actually, we're as keeping those records of which doctors were actually writing these medical exemptions. Is that right? Speaker 2: 01:35 That's right. I that wasn't something they were required to do. It wasn't up to them to approve or disapprove a medical exemptions, but they were starting to see a lot of medical exemptions and it was some thing that was raising a red flag for them. So that's right. They started keeping that document. Speaker 1: 01:52 Now you talked to two doctors and fleet back last spring. What did she say about why she writes so many exemptions? Speaker 2: 02:00 Well, she said she has a theory that she's writing them based on [inaudible] and a handful of other doctors have it too. And that is that a genetic predisposition to autoimmune disorders might slightly increase the risk of someone's, uh, ability to have a, a, a negative reaction to a vaccine. But I talked to a disease specialist at Rady children's hospital who said, that isn't entirely fully untested theory. There's no proof that that's the case whatsoever and that exampley or anyone else wanted to test it. They could design a study which would would show that's the case right now. There's nothing, no literature out there that shows a family history of autoimmune conditions increases your risk of having a, an adverse vaccine reaction. Speaker 1: 02:49 What kind of auto immune diseases was she saying might lend a child to have a reaction to immunizations? Speaker 2: 02:57 This newest case, she's been charged for by the medical board with gross negligence. She wrote that for uh, a child having a family history of psoriasis and asthma. Those are two conditions that are really on the edges of, of anything. The medical community, the American Academy of pediatricians recognizes this as a reason. So when I asked her about that last March, she took those off her website as lists did reasons that she might grant an exemption because she said they were open to misinterpretation. But, but in this case that she's been charged with, uh, yeah, she, she was basically only using letters from family members, not even medical documentation that said people in the child's lineage had had psoriasis and asthma. Speaker 1: 03:47 Now is this a criminal charge against the doctor? Speaker 2: 03:50 Is not, it's not a criminal charge at all. Um, it's a charge by the medical board of California. And should it go to trial, it will be heard by an administrative law judge. And uh, if she has found to have committed gross negligence said worst case scenario, she could lose her medical license. She could also be suspended. Speaker 1: 04:10 Is there a concern that the large number of exemptions are written by doctors and bleed might affect the level of immunity in San Diego schools? Speaker 2: 04:19 Well, that's what Dr. Marks or you're said a the infectious disease. And I talked to that, that she was creating pockets of unvaccinated children. And so, you know, the number of vaccinations that she, the number of exemption is that she claims to have written in the charging document is a thousand. Um, so yeah, I think, I think given that number it, what Dr. Sawyer said is quite possibly correct that it's contributing to pockets of places where the community immunity is not at 95%, which is, is what it needs to be to prevent for it to prevent the spread of disease through all people. Speaker 1: 05:01 Now, as you've been telling us, your reporting voice of San Diego's reporting on this issue led in part to the new law that tightens the way these medical vaccine exemptions can be. Granted, we saw unprecedented protests in the state legislature as this new bill was debated. Have you had any unpleasant experiences while reporting this story? Speaker 2: 05:24 Um, well thank you for asking about, uh, my experience, Maureen, but, um, you know, it hasn't been too bad. I've, I've certainly received a lot of very angry impassioned emails, um, from people say saying I'm contributing to endangering children. Um, and like you said, thanks at the Capitol, I think, uh, spun out of the realm of possibility of what anyone thought would happen. People, you know, throwing unknown substances onto people, people being attacked and um, people will seem to not have trust of not just the pharmaceutical industry, but you know, all of the pediatricians in this state, when it comes to this, the, the American Academy of pediatricians, a branch in California is all in agreement on when to vaccinate and when not to vaccinate. And, and there's a handful of people who see some great conspiracy fueled by the big pharma industry behind that. Speaker 1: 06:23 Now, doctors Zan blade could lose her license, as you told us if she's found guilty of these charges, but she can continue to practice until the medical board rules, which could be some time from now. Could she still be writing these vaccine exemptions? Speaker 2: 06:38 She could. She could, uh, you know, um, she seems to be more concerned about, uh, the state and regulators coming after her. So I'm not exact. She didn't respond to my latest request for comment, so I'm not exactly sure where her head's at on this right now, but certainly as long as she's a practicing physician, she can write a medical exemption for whatever reason she chooses to. But now with this new law that'll go into effect in 2021 people will be able to review those exemptions. If she writes more than five in a single school, in a singer single calendar year, then public health officials can review those. And if they find that they were written for reasons that don't line up with the AAP and the CDC, then they can overturn those. Speaker 1: 07:24 I've been speaking with a voice of San Diego education reporter. We'll hunt Sperry. Well, thank you. Speaker 2: 07:30 Thanks, Maureen. Speaker 3: 07:34 [inaudible].