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December 10, 2018

Lessons From California’s Discipline of a Popular Physician for Vaccination Exemptions Without Medical Cause

Author Affiliations
  • 1Department of Health Policy and Management, Fairbanks School of Public Health, Indiana University, Indianapolis
  • 2McKinney School of Law, Indiana University, Indianapolis
  • 3Center for Health Policy and Media Engagement, George Washington University School of Nursing, Washington, DC
  • 4Department of Health Policy and Management, George Washington University Milken Institute School of Public Health, Washington, DC
JAMA Pediatr. 2019;173(2):121-122. doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2018.3835

In June 2018, the Medical Board of California placed an American Academy of Pediatrics fellow and leading vaccine skeptic, Robert “Dr Bob” Sears, MD, on 35 months’ probation for substandard care in writing a medical report exempting a boy from all childhood vaccinations.1 The medical board’s action represents a novel and important development in how states protect the public’s health from vaccine-preventable illnesses. It also reveals concerns about exploitable loopholes in many states’ vaccination exemption policies, whether the state permits religious and philosophical exemptions or even if, as California has since 2015, it only accepts medical grounds for exemption.

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