Opinion: Let the public know which doctors are writing too many vaccine exemptions

A boy is vaccinated at Children's Hospital Los Angeles on Aug. 7, 2017.
(David McNew / For The Times)

To the editor: This week, The Times reported on concerns over doctor discretion regarding vaccine medical exemptions. It’s worth noting a recent study showed California counties with high personal exemptions before SB 277, the state law granting exemptions only to people who doctors certify need them for medical reasons, have the highest medical exemption levels now (“Why hasn’t California cracked down on anti-vaccination doctors?” Nov. 6).

While I believe doctors should receive guidelines for exemptions from medical organizations and not from lawmakers, I also believe the public has the right to know which doctors may be abusing this discretion.

Schools are required to release vaccination rates; perhaps doctors should be required to release their practice’s vaccination rates as well. Parents have the right to know if their doctor’s office poses a high risk, particularly for vulnerable infants, and choose another doctor with better vaccination rates.

Public choice can be the disciplining factor if the state medical board is unable to mitigate this risk.


Elena Gustafson, Berkeley


To the editor: As one who had to serve in the Army 50 years ago, I’ve long resented those who fraudulently ducked military conscription.

Some late 1960s contemporaries of mine who were affiliated with a certain religious faith all managed to score the draft’s “4-F” medical exemption from doctors who were adherents of that same faith. Whether those exemptions were obtained fraudulently, I can’t say for sure. But none of my 4-F colleagues seemed to have any problem participating in college athletic programs.


So I’m not surprised that ardent anti-vaccination parents can find a physician who shares their personal beliefs to contrive a medical exemption for their kids. While I’m sure the vast majority of doctors would never consider issuing a fraudulent vaccination exemption, I hope state investigators catch those few who do.

Beyond giving the medical profession a bad name, these scofflaws endanger the health of our children.

Dennis Alston, Atwater, Calif.

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