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Official: Some Santa Cruz County doctors falsify vaccine documents

UPDATE: Some Santa Cruz County doctors falsify vaccine documents

SANTA CRUZ COUNTY, Calif. - UPDATE: 01/29/19 5:45 p.m. Several doctors in Santa Cruz County are being accused of signing off on vaccination exemptions for children who do not meet the criteria.

This comes as Washington State governor has declared a state of emergency due to an outbreak of measles.

The highly contagious disease has been spread to more than 50 locations in Washington, ranging from schools to grocery stores and at least 35 people are infected. 

Washington is one of the 18 states that allows parents to opt out of kids vaccinations for moral or personal beliefs.

Now officials in Santa Cruz County say it's likely that disease could spread here with children not getting vaccinated when they should be.

County Health Officer, Dr. Arnold Leff, tells KION “we have a few doctors in the community who are not following the law and are giving medical exceptions to various children’s parents and their kids and those kids are at huge risk for getting measles and other serious vaccinable, preventable diseases.”

In 2015 Governor Jerry Brown signed a law making vaccines mandatory for kids attending daycare, preschool and K-12; whereas before, parents could opt out for personal or religious beliefs. 

Dr. Leff says since that time the number of medical exemptions has skyrocketed, and that's in part due to doctors who are not abiding by the law, “so we basically have a situation where we have groups of children who are unvaccinated, by law they’re supposed to be, but they have unsubstantiated medical exemptions."

Officials could not release the names of doctors breaking the rules, but says some parents know and go to those doctors knowing they will sign off on exemptions.

He says this is not only putting those kids at risk, it's putting other children who have legitimate reasons for exemption at risk too, “such as kids with cancer on chemo therapy - those kids are vulnerable if they’re in a school with a lot of kids not being vaccinated.”

The County health department says they know of some of the doctors who are bending the rules and are looking at different ways to stop this from happening, "we are in touch with the medical board of California with regards to these physicians and we are looking at other avenues in order to prevent these physicians from giving fraudulent medical exemptions.”

Most parents KION spoke with about vaccinations did not want to go on camera about the controversial topic, but those who did have differing opinions.

"The fact that the choice is taken away from parents is difficult and pressing and kind of bogs down on our sense of personal choice in general,” says Amanda Edwards.

Another mom we spoke with saying, "I was a teacher, and i have two daughters and a grandson and I would say vaccinate. It would be a shame for someone to get sick when they could have gotten vaccinated."

 

PREVIOUS STORY: 

As a state of emergency is declared in Washington State due to a measles outbreak, health officials on the Central Coast are urging parents to get their kids vaccinated.

The highly contagious disease has been spread to more than 50 locations in Washington, ranging from schools to grocery stores and at least 35 people are infected. 

Washington is one of the 18 states that allows parents to opt out of kids vaccinations for moral or personal beliefs.

In 2015 Governor Jerry Brown signed a law making vaccines mandatory for kids attending daycare, preschool and K-12; whereas before, parents could opt out for personal or religious beliefs. 

But even with that law, there are children who are still not vaccinated and put at much higher risk for getting the disease according to health officials in Santa Cruz. 

One official told KION that some doctors in the county are falsifying vaccine documents. 

KION'S Ashley Keehn will have more at 5 & 6 p.m.


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