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FDA: Federal government might step in if states don't change vaccine laws

By Elizabeth Cohen and John Bonifield, CNN

(CNN) -- The head of the US Food and Drug Administration says that if states don't require more schoolchildren to get vaccinated, the federal government might have to step in.

Nearly all states allow children to attend school even if their parents opt out of vaccines. These vaccine exemptions are especially popular in Washington state, where a measles outbreak started last month that has now sickened at least 67 people in four states. And New York has been working to contain its largest outbreak in decades, which began in October and has sickened more than 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," FDA Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb said Tuesday in an interview with 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.

Gottlieb's suggestion about the federal government and vaccines was first reported by Axios.

The commissioner was vague on when he thought the federal government should take action and what exactly that 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.

He said he hoped that the measles outbreak would make state officials realize that they needed to get stricter on exemptions.

Forty-seven states allow parents to opt out of childhoodvaccines for religious reasons. Of those, 17, including Washington, allow parents to opt out because they feel that vaccines violate their personal or philosophical beliefs.

The American Medical Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics and other medical groups have long said that states should get rid of all exemptions except when a vaccine would cause medical harm to a child.

Gottlieb said he is "deeply skeptical" of all exemptions except medical ones.

Reaction to Gottlieb's statements was mixed.

"This is fantastic news," said Dr. Adam Ratner, director of the Division of Pediatric Infectious Diseases at Hassenfeld Children's Hospital at NYU Langone. "I think some of the states may need that kind of push."

Bill Zedler, a Republican Texas state representative, disagrees.

"It's a horrible idea," said Zedler, who has fought efforts to get rid of religious and personal exemptions in his state.

"That's why we have different laws in every state: so the citizens of that state can decide how they want to run things," he added.

Dr. Richard Pan, a pediatrician and state senator in California, said that although he welcomed national leadership on this issue, he was concerned about the legality of the federal government moving into an area that has been controlled by state laws.

"Traditionally, school entry requirements have been the role of the states, so there might be a constitutional challenge if the federal government tried to mandate by law those school requirements," he said.

Pan, who four years ago successfully led an effort to get rid of personal and religious vaccine exemptions in his state, said he thought national leaders might take a different approach than what Gottlieb suggests to increase vaccination rates.

On Tuesday, he sent a letter to US Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams to ramp up efforts to address parents who are hesitant to vaccinate their children.

"As our nation's doctor, I urge you to issue a call to action on vaccine hesitancy in the United States and make this crisis a public health priority," Pan wrote.

Pan warned Adams about campaigns on social media to scare parents away from vaccinations.

"Our nation requires your leadership to stop this attack on our nation's health by addressing the spread of vaccine misinformation causing unwarranted vaccine hesitancy," he wrote.

In a statement to CNN, Adams said he has "consistently championed for the use of vaccinations."

He added that "the data tells us that that states with broader exemption laws have higher numbers of unvaccinated residents, which predisposes them to outbreaks of vaccine preventable diseases like measles."

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Amadeus 460 days ago
CNN is fake news. Shame on ABC 57 for publishing this trash!
Amadeus 460 days ago
CNN is fake news. Shame on ABC 57 for publishing this trash!
Judi 462 days ago
States Right in this case , the FDA head has no jurisdiction to mandate to the states , Please read this excellent article in the 'New American ' : https://www.thenewamerican.com/usnews/health-care/item/31551-fda-boss-to-states-eliminate-vaccine-exemptions-or-else?fbclid=IwAR23tr5PqJNsDfJxoyCkFFGHx1W4Cxw7yqP9ZO2Ro80iJxCjv23geABKh5w
Paul 464 days ago
New studies on aluminum should not be ignored. Macrophages can transport aluminum past the blood brain barrier, the nanoparticulate form of aluminum not the ionic or citrate form! We must test the injected form of the correct form of aluminum, the nanoparticulate form of aluminum specifically. All other tests are not valid that both the FDA or CDC depend on.


jonnafromny 464 days ago
Social media vaccine "scare" campaigns had nothing to do with living the personal nightmare of having a 2 month old son react violently to his DTP back in the mid- 1990's. One random thought- WHY is everyone so scared of measles outbreaks when it is only those who have CHOSEN to be not vaccinated who may catch it? (I had it as a kid in the 1970's and hey, got spots, missed a day or two of school. Really was not a big deal, guys!) Certainly none of your vaccinated kids in school will be affected if those not vaccinated even get measles.
Jennifer 464 days ago
Scare tactics! No one has the right to tell me what will be injected into my body or my children's body. There will be a fight. Those who oppose vaxxes for valid reason will further expose the FDA for the lies they sell. Testing? There are no tests. We are the test. Have they heard of the Nuremberg Code? How about Human Rights? If they can't force you to do something medically, vaxxes fall right in line with that. I dont use heroine for many reasons. If you haven't researched, do so. The stats are telling & frightening. Over $4 billion has been payed out to vax injured individuals/families. That in itself speaks loudly.
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