Vaccines are safe and effective — until they are not. In Santa Barbara, California, vaccine medical exemptions for the 2016-2017 school year are allowed from doctors — and now they are not. In either case, the public is left holding the bag and ignored by the media. The fight happening over medical rights in California has transcended the mainstream reporting and politics spilling onto the streets in the form of education, awareness and community action. On one side waits a mandatory needle displaying an interchangeable pharmaceutical company logo. On the other side stands free humanity who wishes to have health freedom, medical choice, informed consent and control over the medical procedures their children receive.
A major bait and switch was recently handed to the parents of Santa Barbara and the California Senators who voted “Yes” on Senate Bill 277 (SB277). During SB277’s deliberation, the bill’s authors made specific claims and promises that California doctors will have the final say in issuing medical exemptions. Yet, a recent internal letter from the Public Health Department is circulating in Santa Barbara effectively removing those promises. Addressed to school superintendents, principals and child care center directors, the letter demands all permanent and temporary medical exemptions on file for the 2016-2017 California school year be faxed to the Immunization Program citing the authority of a newly formed Medical Exemption Pilot Program. From there, “Immunization Staff” will determine if the once-promised medical exemptions will be allowed.
Rules, Regulations and Laws Violated
There are two obvious issues with the directive outlined in the Santa Barbara Public Health Department’s recent letter. First, the letter instantly breaks the promises in sworn testimony by SB277’s authors who vowed to allow doctors the final say and authority over the issuance of medical exemptions. Second, there exists a clear conflict of interest when authority over medical exemptions are removed from doctor’s and handed over to the county’s Immunization Program — whose primary, stated goal is to increase immunization rates.
The Santa Barbara Public Health Department’s letter also appears to violate the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). The act states that parents and legal guardians are secured “the right to have control over the disclosure of personally identifiable information from the educational records.” FERPA defines educational records as those records that contain information directly related to a student and which are maintained by an educational agency or institution or by a party acting for the agency or institution. Are children’s medical exemptions in California considered part of their education record?
According to SEC. 6. Section 120375 of the Health and Safety Code [SB277]:
“120375. (a) The governing authority [governing board of each school district] of each school or institution included in Section 120335 shall require documentary proof of each entrant’s immunization status. The governing authority [governing board of each school district] shall record the immunizations of each new entrant in the entrant’s permanent enrollment and scholarship record on a form provided by the department.”
Furthermore, the California Department of Public Health states the following regarding SB277 reporting and record keeping:
“…schools will still need to record immunizations for all students at entry. Report on the immunization status of all students at the checkpoints of child care, kindergarten, and 7th grade.”
The stated purpose of the newly initiated Medical Exemption Pilot Project is to “collect and analyze data” — in the form of your child’s personal medical records. Given the fact that this “pilot project” is conducting research by “collecting and analyzing data“, the project is violating The US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Policy for Protection of Human Research Subjects. The HHS defines a human subject as “a living individual about whom an investigator conducting research obtains identifiable private information.” Research is defined by HHS as “systematic investigation, including research development, testing and evaluation, designed to develop or contribute to generalizable knowledge.”
The Santa Barbara Public Health Department’s letter demanding the personally identifiable private information of students was addressed not to parents, but to school superintendents, principals and child care center directors. Since the collected information will be used for research, the letter and request appear to violate the HHS Policy for Protection of Human Research Subjects general requirements for informed consent. Furthermore, the information being demanded by the Santa Barbara Department of Health — obtained without informed consent — will be used to potentially deliver foreseeable risks and discomforts [loss of an education] to the children [subjects] whose data are being used — a further violation.
Solutions to Political Overreach