June 30, 2022 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

SMa.r.t. Column: The Mansionization of Santa Monica

June 17, 2022

June 17, 2022

Editor’s note: This column originally appeared in print in 2016.  In the 1980s, Santa Monica’s single family zoning code was...

OP-Ed Response to DTSM Board Chair Barry Snell and Plea to City Council Regarding Safety Ambassadors and Ambassador Program

June 14, 2022

June 14, 2022

I am responding to the OP-ED (dated June 7, 2022, Santa Monica Mirror) by City-appointed DTSM Board Member and now...

SMa.r.t. Column: Wheeling Electrically

June 9, 2022

June 9, 2022

A recent weekend visit to Dana Point, on the Orange County coastline, revealed a curious scene: dozens, if not hundreds...

Population Loss: New Era or Pandemic Glitch?

June 3, 2022

June 3, 2022

By Tom Elias, Columnist The numbers suggest a major change is underway in California. It would take a Nostradamus to...

SMa.r.t. Column: The Sound of Silence Is Big & Tall

June 3, 2022

June 3, 2022

All too often these days we find ourselves wondering how we could have been so correct about so many planning...

OP-Ed: DTSM Chair Barry Snell on Safety Ambassadors

June 2, 2022

June 2, 2022

By Barry Snell Chair, Downtown Santa Monica, Inc. Board of Directors  The Downtown Santa Monica, Inc. (DTSM) Board of Directors...

Affordable Spaces for Small Business

May 27, 2022

May 27, 2022

Los Angeles County recently proposed a program providing financial incentives for certain “Legacy” family businesses in their original historical location....

​​Doubt Removed: Oil Refiners Gouging Us

May 23, 2022

May 23, 2022

By Tom Elias, Columnist There was some room for doubt back in February, when gasoline prices rose precipitously: Until the...

Is the Big Housing Crunch Mostly Fiction?

May 20, 2022

May 20, 2022

By Tom Elias, Columnist In some parts of California, there is definitely a housing crunch: small supplies of homes for...

Is Gelson’s Our Future? Bigger Is Not Better & Not Necessary! – Part 2

May 20, 2022

May 20, 2022

The dream of our beachfront city is about to become a nightmare! Just imagine a tsunami of these projects washing...

Column From Santa Monica Mayor Himmelrich: We Walk the Talk

May 12, 2022

May 12, 2022

By Sue Himmelrich, Santa Moncia Mayor  I like the SMa.r.t. architects. I often agree with them. But in allowing Mark...

Is Gelson’s Our Future? Bigger Is Not Better!

May 12, 2022

May 12, 2022

It’s appalling to see what’s happening in our city – projects recently built or about to be approved – in...

Renting Your Second Home

May 6, 2022

May 6, 2022

If you are among the many Americans who own a second home that you occasionally use as a vacation getaway,...

Column: Cities Fight to Maintain Distinctive Characters

May 6, 2022

May 6, 2022

By Tom Elias, Columnist Anyone who knows California well will realize that Palo Alto does not look much like nearby...

SMa.r.t. Column: Gelson’s, Boxed-In

May 6, 2022

May 6, 2022

This week we are re-visiting an article from 2018 regarding the Miramar project, by simply replacing the word “Miramar” with...