I have been getting that question a lot lately. It is understandable with all that is going on.
The answer is that I don’t know and I don’t think anyone can know for three reasons.
First, Senator Pan had to give-up some important ground at the end of the last session, via SB 714 which watered down some of SB 276’s more onerous provisions. The biggest problem (from the regulators’ point of view) with the current SB276/714 law is that there is no filing/reporting requirement for grandfathered ME’s. Under the law, ME’s written by a physician who has been disciplined by the Medical Board are revocable by the CDPH, but there is no specific administrative procedure by which grandfathered ME’s of these physicians are submitted to the CDPH. For sure, in an ad hoc manner, schools can forward these exemptions, but some might, some might not. Right now, only one high profile ME writing physician is currently under a disciplinary order which precipitates ME revocation, but by early to mid-next year, there will probably be other physicians whose exemptions are revocable. Will the CDPH find out about these docs and their revocable ME’s? My guess is it will, if Senator Pan has anything to say about it (as discussed below).
But for now, we simply cannot say for sure whether or how many of this one physician’s ME’s will be revoked and by when, or whether there are other exemptions which will be affected during the upcoming school year.
The second reason I can’t tell you whether your child’s permanent medical exemption from all vaccines will be valid for the entirety of next year is because the California Legislature is back in session and it is a good bet that Senator Pan will try to clean-up and get back what he was forced to give up to the Governor who caused the last minute inclusion of SB 714. Alas, we live in a different world now, and it is possible that there is now less daylight between Senator Pan and the Governor. Time will tell.
But I have to believe that Senator Pan is thinking hard about completely eliminating the problem of the 10-12k permanent medical exemptions, because some of these ME’s could be good for years. To the consternation of some, I have speculated about the probable and drastic/worst case scenarios of what he could do this session. Here is that post.
We will know more once he drops the initial version of his new bill, unless he decides to sit this session out because of the pandemic, (which to me seems unlikely).
The third reason I can’t tell you if your child’s permanent exemption will be valid and accepted next school year is because who knows how some schools will react to the pandemic.
What I can tell you is that last year, after SB 276/714 was passed, but before it went into effect, (and even before it was passed), some schools were rejecting permanent, complete vaccine exemptions for seemingly healthy but medically fragile students. It seems a reasonable guess that some, and probably more schools will, on their own, and without a direct legal basis, question or reject these ME’s regardless of whether the issuing physician is under a Board order.
Could there be a legal redress, i.e., a basis to sue? Sure, and a few such cases might be filed. Maybe some families will get legal relief, but the worse the pandemic becomes, and the closer to home it hits, the less likely a California judge is going to force an unvaccinated healthy but medically fragile kid back into school over the its objection. But this is just speculation and is based on my feeling that the school nurses are going to be even more skeptical and fearful of the unvaccinated, regardless of how irrational you all think that might be. And while none of you think this is right or fair, many of you probably also fear or think that is how it is going to play out.
What about if your child has an IEP?
Right now, legally, nothing should change, but let’s see what the new bill says, and how the schools react to current events.
So, what should you do about it, right now?
Sorry, I just don’t have any good ideas right now in advance of knowing the contents of new legislation. If there is a new bill introduced, and if it eliminates or jeopardizes your child’s ME, then there will be the lobbying and protests for sure. Also, an as yet unanswered question is whether most of California will continue to avoid the dire effects of the pandemic which other places in the Country are facing.
For now, I think the only thing to do is sit tight and wait to see what happens, but I don’t think you’ll have long to wait to at least get a sense of what is coming.
Rick Jaffe, Esq.