FDA chief: Feds may act if states don't change vaccine exemption laws

Megan Knowles - Print  | 

FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, MD, said the federal government may have to step in if states do not require more schoolchildren to get vaccinated, CNN reports.

Almost all states let kids attend school even if their parents choose not to vaccinate them. Vaccine exemptions are common in Washington state, where a measles outbreak started in January that has now sickened at least 67 people in four states. Additionally, New York is seeing its largest measles outbreak in decades. The New York outbreak started in October and has sickened over 200 people.

"Some states are engaging in such wide exemptions that they're creating the opportunity for outbreaks on a scale that is going to have national implications," Dr. Gottlieb told CNN.

If "certain states continue down the path that they're on, I think they're going to force the hand of the federal health agencies," he added.

The commissioner did not provide details on when he thought the federal government should act or what the action should be.

"You could mandate certain rules about what is and isn't permissible when it comes to allowing people to have exemptions," he said.

Dr. Gottlieb said he hoped that the measles outbreak would make state officials realize they need to get stricter about vaccine exemptions.

More articles on clinical leadership and infection control:
Race, other socioeconomic factors linked to community-acquired MRSA risk
CMS won't end Mount Carmel's Medicare funding amid probe into patient deaths
Flu season may contribute to kidney failure deaths, study finds

© Copyright ASC COMMUNICATIONS 2020. Interested in LINKING to or REPRINTING this content? View our policies by clicking here.

To receive the latest hospital and health system business and legal news and analysis from Becker's Hospital Review, sign-up for the free Becker's Hospital Review E-weekly by clicking here.