Parents hinder California's investigation into medical vaccine exemptions

The California government is struggling to investigate physicians suspected of writing inappropriate vaccine exemptions for children due to a lack of cooperation from some parents, reports the San Francisco Chronicle.

State regulators have received 186 complaints of improper medical vaccine exemptions over the past four years. In that time, only one physician has been disciplined, and 40 percent of the complaints have been closed.

The Medical Board of California said some parents have refused to share their children's medical records, effectively rendering officials unable to investigate the claims. Patients are permitted to withhold these medical records under federal law, unless the state gets a subpoena.

California saw a spike in medical exemptions after eliminating religious exemptions in 2015. Lawmakers have since introduced a bill that would allow state health officials to investigate physicians who approve five or more medical exemptions annually, along with schools with less than a 95 percent vaccination rate.

The bill's supporters say it will help protect Californians' health and prevent future disease outbreaks. Opponents argue the bill could threaten patient-provider relationships and dissuade physicians from writing legitimate medical exemptions.

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