Anti-Vaxxers March On California Capitol For The Right To Make Doctors Lie For Them
Last week, when we wrote about how Republicans are fighting to let parents send their unvaccinated children to school, we told you we were in the middle of the second largest measles epidemic since the year 2000. Today, as I write this, we are now in the middle of the largest measles epidemic since 2000. We did it guys! We beat Disneyland!
Legislators in California, one of many states trying to do something about the current outbreak as well as prevent the next one, are trying to pass a bill that would give the state authority over whether or not an unvaccinated child's medical exemption is legit.
In 2015, California passed a law removing "personal belief" from the list of vaccine exemptions for children attending school. Almost immediately, the number of "medical exemptions" shot up 250 percent. In order to get around the new law, many parents decided to go doctor shopping to doctors known to give out medical exemptions for things like asthma, being related to a person with autism, a family history of allergies and other issues that have absolutely nothing to do with whether or not one can be vaccinated safely. Some doctors were even found to be selling medical exemptions for $150 to $300 a pop. California Senate Bill 276 was written to deal with these issues.
As you can imagine, the anti-vaxxers are not happy about this new bill. On Wednesday afternoon, hundreds of them stormed the Capitol demanding their right to doctor shop until they find someone who will give their kid a fugazy medical exemption. They claim that what they're really concerned about here is the sacred relationship between doctor and patient.
"Doctors are the only ones who know their patients well enough to make medical decisions such as which vaccines a child should or shouldn't receive," said Dr. Shannon Kroner, an educational therapist and co-organizer for the rally. "It should never be up to a third party to make that type of medical decision."
Kroner, who is not authorized to administer medical exemptions, will join representatives from across the anti-vaccine spectrum. They include families who distrust pharmaceutical companies, those who doubt the "government bureaucrats" in the public health department and many who believe vaccines cause irreversible medical injuries.
Also upset about the bill are those who would not be affected by it because they already have their medical exemptions:
Among the moms desperate to halt SB 276 was Christina Mecklenburg, who said her 2-year-old daughter Hayden suffered from side effects that left her cross-eyed following an MMR vaccine in 2018.
According to Mecklenburg, who said she vaccinated her two older children, Hayden was hospitalized following the vaccine and endured MRI tests to determine what happened.
"As a mom you're like 'what is going on, why is this happening to her'?" Mecklenburg said.
A doctor later gave the girl a permanent medical exemption from mandatory vaccines, finding the MMR shot triggered a nerve disorder.
Just gotta say -- I'm real sorry about your kids' crossed eyes, lady, but that's fixable. You know what's not fixable? Blindness caused by measles. Also there is nothing anywhere that says that vaccines cause strabismus.
Other parents testified as well, talking about all the horrible things that Facebook memes told them can happen when children have vaccines -- so therefore unscrupulous doctors should be able to hand out medical exemptions willy nilly, I guess.
NONE OF THIS MAKES ANY SENSE.
To be clear, these laws do not force parents to vaccinate their children. They can still refuse to vaccinate. They just cannot then send their kid to school, because their kid is a danger to other students. They will have to home school them.
Pretending to have a thing you don't have in order to get something you want is also a really shitty thing to do to people who actually have the issue that you are pretending to have. There's always a cost. Assholes who want to be skinny or have a fun time at a party have made it ridiculously hard for those of us who actually have ADHD (also not caused by a vaccine, by the way) to get treatment or be taken seriously.
But with vaccines, it's not just that these people might make doctors take those whose kids actually have these issues less seriously. They are also making things worse for the kids who actually have compromised immune systems and rely on herd immunity to keep them safe. Those kids, because their immune systems are compromised, are even more vulnerable to the diseases other kids get vaccinated against. Those diseases could actually kill them.
Prior to the measles vaccine becoming widely available, outbreaks occurring every 2 to 3 years would cause, on average, 2.6 million deaths. Even if vaccines did cause autism (they do not) or crossed eyes or whatever other ridiculousness they've come up with by now -- those things are still not as bad as death.
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Robyn Pennacchia is a brilliant, fabulously talented and visually stunning angel of a human being, who shrugged off what she is pretty sure would have been a Tony Award-winning career in musical theater in order to write about stuff on the internet. Previously, she was a Senior Staff Writer at Death & Taxes, and Assistant Editor at The Frisky (RIP). Currently, she writes for Wonkette, Friendly Atheist, Quartz and other sites. Follow her on Twitter at @RobynElyse