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FDA chief: The federal government may step in if states do not change lax vaccine laws



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 began 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 exceptions that they create a chance for outbreaks in a scale That's 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 are, I think they're going to force the hands of federal health agencies," he added.

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

The Commissioner was unclear when he thought the federal government should take action and what exactly this action should be. "He said he hoped that the measles outbreak would make state officials realize that they needed to get stricter." are exemptions.

Forty-seven states allow parents to opt out of childhood vaccines for religious reasons. Of these, 1
7, 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

Gottlieb said he was "deeply skeptical" of all exceptions 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." ​​

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Bill Zedler, a Republican Texas State Representative, disagrees

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

"That's why we have different laws in every state: so that 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 federal government moving into a region that was controlled by state laws.

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

Pan, who four years ago successfully led effort to get He said national leaders might take a different approach than Gottlieb suggests to increase vaccination rates.
On Tuesday, he sent a letter to the US Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams ramp up efforts to address the parents who are hesitant to vaccinate their children.

"As our nation's doctor, I urge you to issue a call to action on the 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 was "consistently championed for the use of vaccinations."

He added that "the data tells us that those states with more extensive exemption laws have a higher number of unvaccinated residents, which predisposes They make them outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases like measles. "


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