Certain local private and charter schools are allowing most of their kids go without measles, mumps, and rubella shots, and lawmakers claim doctors are selling fake exemptions to anti-vaxxer parents.
Measles are back in a big way, after being pretty much eradicated, as today’s Washington Post tells us that more than 700 people nationwide have measles — the highest total in 25 years. San Francisco recently saw its first measles case since 2013, then two Bay Area residents contracted measles on a flight in March, and another infected person did visit the city in early April, we haven’t experienced the truly scary outbreaks like other parts of the state. Consider Los Angeles, where according to Friday’s New York Times, “more than 700 students and staff members” were quarantined at UCLA and Cal State Los Angeles.
The U.S. already has more measles cases in 2019 than it has had in a full year since 1994, federal health officials say. The largest outbreaks are in New York. https://t.co/ombot4MhtA— The Associated Press (@AP) April 29, 2019
Our region’s relative immunity from measles could change fast. Today’s San Francisco Chronicle reports that more than half of all students are unvaccinated at seven Bay Area schools, based on statewide vaccination rates just released by the California Department of Public Health.
What jumps out about this list is that the two most unvaccinated Bay Area schools have the word “Waldorf” in their names. Waldorf schools are a worldwide chain of schools that describe themselves as “holistic” and “spiritual”, and they’re rather notorious for their vaccine denial. Sure enough, the most unvaccinated school in the Bay Area is San Rafael’s Marin Waldorf School (only 22% vaccinated!), followed by Berkeley Rose Waldorf School (29% vaccinated). A number of Bay Area charter schools have mostly unvaccinated student bodies too.
If only they made a vaccine for measles. https://t.co/jKtCWBv7LG— Molly Jong-Fast (@MollyJongFast) April 29, 2019
We should note that these schools are not typical examples. That DPH data is nearly 300 pages long and lists thousands of schools, the majority have vaccination rates in the 90% and higher range.
Yes, kids are required to get the MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella) vaccination before starting school. But parents can get a medical exemption, and these medical exemptions have increased dramatically as kook science spread on YouTube and Facebook have whipped up anti-vaxx fervor. There’s plenty of evidence that some of these exemptions are bogus and doctors are “selling medical exemptions to parents.”
California law bars parents from citing personal or religious beliefs to keep from vaccinating their children. Now parents are turning to doctors who write medical exemptions liberally and sometimes for cash. https://t.co/Vfm4JqUENH— The Phia Group, LLC (@ThePhiaGroup) April 21, 2019
That’s according to a new bill in the California statehouse, which claims certain unscrupulous doctors have made a cottage industry out of hawking vaccine exemptions to the highest bidders. That bill would put the exemption process in the hands of public health officials instead of doctors, and is still working its way through various committees. Even if passed, it wouldn’t take effect until 2021, but it may be a step in the right direction.
It may be fun to engage in the stereotype that hippy-dippy Marin County parents are driving the measles outbreak, and that is true to some degree. But the New York Times notes that the current outbreak can be traced to ultra-Orthodox Jewish and Muslim communities because, in part, there are residual traces of pig and human fetus matter in the vaccines. But the conspiracy theories are unscientifically spinning this is the worst possible ways, and rabbis and religious leaders have near-unanimously approved of vaccine use.
If you’re not immunized or want a booster, the S.F. Department of Public Health has a list of recommended places to get immunized in San Francisco.