February 24, 2024 Breaking News, Latest News, and Videos

New Vaccination Form Eases Way For False Myths:

For almost two months, parents of California public school pupils have been able to claim with no proof that their religion precludes getting their children vaccinated against once dreaded and disabling diseases like polio, rubella, mumps, pertussis and smallpox.

This enables parents who believe in false myths to exempt their children easily, even if they really have no religious beliefs at all.

It comes thanks to a relatively unpublicized signing message Gov. Jerry Brown in 2012 attached to his approval of a bill originally designed to make it slightly more difficult for parents to evade the vaccinations almost all children must get before they can attend public schools.

No one yet knows just how many parents are availing themselves of their Brown-ordered new ability to merely check off a box on a form rather than having a doctor, school nurse or nurse practitioner sign a form attesting that they have been informed of the benefits of vaccinations. Figures won’t be known until late spring at the earliest.

But supporters of the vaccinations that have caused the near disappearances of many serious diseases warn that a proliferation of anti-vaccination myths might accelerate a trend away from vaccinations that actually began prior to Brown’s order.

In short, parents who believe those shibboleths can claim a religious belief even when they have none, and they can’t be questioned.

As it stands, no organized religion now forbids adherents to vaccinate their children. This may be because almost all of today’s religious doctrines originated before vaccinations began in the first half of the last century. “Even Christian Scientists say it’s in the parents’ hands to do what’s best for their children,” says Catherine Flores Martin, executive director of the California Immunization Coalition. But many Christian Scientist adherents have claimed the tougher-to-get exemptions offered before this year.

Altogether, 97 percent of all California schoolchildren are vaccinated, with various inoculations required prior to enrollment at assorted grade levels.

“If a recent trend we noticed away from vaccinations accelerates, we’ll revisit the subject with both the Legislature and the governor,” Martin said. In California, the trend has been most pronounced in Marin, Santa Cruz and Santa Barbara counties, Martin reported.

An increase in exemptions seems likely under Brown’s order, which made it easier for parents to lie about their religious beliefs either to avoid the hassle of getting children vaccinated or because they actually believe some of the myths.

One of those falsehoods ties the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine to increased autism rates. This myth, originally published in a British medical journal, was debunked years ago and was long ago renounced even by the authors of the flawed British study. But it persists, even getting a full airing last fall on the syndicated TV talk show of former CBS News anchorwoman Katie Couric.

“Like many flawed and false stories that circulate on the Internet, a lot of people who heard the original story didn’t see the retraction and backpedaling from this one,” said Martin. Kouric later tried to correct what she had aired, but Martin says “It’s too early to tell if that effort had any effect.”

More myths are associated with other vaccines. Example: There’s a wide, but false, belief that pertussis (whooping cough) vaccines are tied to seizures, despite a lack of evidence for the claim.

Brown has thus far appeared oblivious to the potential harm of his gratuitous signing order, his spokesman saying that he “believes that vaccinations are profoundly important and a major public health benefit.” He has said nothing beyond that his order aimed only to “take into account First Amendment religious freedoms through an extremely narrow exemption.”

But the exemption turns out to be quite wide, not narrow at all, a loophole in existing health laws. Parents who don’t want to bother now need only check off that box on a form.

Which means that the moment there’s firm evidence the loophole created is being used by liars and not believers, Brown must reverse it even if that means admitting he made a big mistake.

in Opinion
Related Posts

S.M.a.r.t Column: Gelson’s Looms Large

February 22, 2024

February 22, 2024

Our guest column this week is by SMCLC (the Santa Monica Coalition for a Livable City). SMCLC is a well-established...

S.M.a.r.t Column: Top Toady Town

February 18, 2024

February 18, 2024

Throughout history, from the ancient Romans and Assyrians to Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine, siege warfare has served as an...

S.M.a.r.t Column: The Sunset of Home Ownership

February 11, 2024

February 11, 2024

We are watching the sunset of our historical and cultural American dream of home ownership as we now are crossing...

SMa.r.t. Column: B(U)Y RIGHT

February 4, 2024

February 4, 2024

“By Right” state housing laws that give developers, in certain projects, the ability to ignore codes ‘by right.’ Well, that...

S.M.a.r.t  Column: Serf City

January 28, 2024

January 28, 2024

Homelessness is a problem in California, and nowhere is this more evident than in our fair city, where the unhoused...

S.M.a.r.t  Column: Bond Fatigue

January 22, 2024

January 22, 2024

Last week’s SMart article,  described two critical problems faced by our Santa Monica Malibu Unified School District (SMMUSD): the declining...

S.M.a.r.t Column: Peace on Earth

December 27, 2023

December 27, 2023

We are all, by now, saturated with jingles, holiday cards, “ho ho ho’s,” countless commercial advertisements, and exhortations to feel...

S.M.a.r.t Column: On the Clock with Mayor Brock

December 17, 2023

December 17, 2023

I became Santa Monica’s Mayor on Tuesday, December 12, 2023, following a simple “switch of the chairs” transition with outgoing...

S.M.a.r.t Column: SANTA MONICA CITY COUNCIL 2024

December 10, 2023

December 10, 2023

Position:Seeking Santa Monica City Council Candidate(s) Introduction:Exciting opportunity for the right candidate(s) to work with like-minded Council members committed to...

S.M.a.r.t Column: ARB (NOT Ready to Build!)

December 3, 2023

December 3, 2023

Santa Monica City’s Architectural Review Board (ARB), established in 1974, acts “…to preserve existing areas of natural beauty, cultural importance...

SMa.r.t. Column: We are thankful for….

November 27, 2023

November 27, 2023

SMa.r.t. would like to wish you all a great Thanksgiving with friends and family and also to thank its readers...

S.M.a.r.t Column: Make the City New Again

November 19, 2023

November 19, 2023

When the COVID crisis struck, it cut the city’s income in half, demolishing many businesses and causing widespread layoffs and...

S.M.a.r.t Column: Four Futures

October 29, 2023

October 29, 2023

As well described by Paul Krugman, all cities have a core competency: things they do well or better regionally or...

SMa.r.t column: Beautiful Quartz Countertops Are Hurting Workers and Should Be Banned

October 9, 2023

October 9, 2023

Quartz countertops are super popular because they’re tough and can handle stains, scratches, and heat. But there’s a big problem:...

S.M.a.r.t Column: Architect’s Son Reflects On Civic Auditorium

October 2, 2023

October 2, 2023

Welton (David) Becket (1902-1969), pictured above, backed by a picture of our Civic Auditorium, was the designer of that famed...