The exterior of Dr. Tara Zandvliet’s office in South Park / Photo by Megan Wood
The exterior of Dr. Tara Zandvliet’s office in South Park / Photo by Megan Wood

Medical exemptions from vaccinations have been climbing since a 2015 California law limited the ability of parents to obtain personal belief exemptions for their children.

Since that time, a single doctor appears to have cornered San Diego’s market of vaccine-skeptical parents. Will Huntsberry reports that Dr. Tara Zandvliet has written nearly one-third of all 486 medical exemptions from vaccinations for the entire San Diego Unified School District, according to public records.

School districts have no role in approving or disapproving the exemptions, and a spokeswoman for San Diego Unified said the administration has noticed an “excessively frequent” number of medical exemptions coming from some physicians.

Zandvliet said she’s writing exemptions based on her best understanding of medicine, considering family history of allergies or autoimmune diseases.

But most public health officials, as well as the American Academy of Pediatricians and the Center for Disease Control, do not endorse the reasoning that she uses to justify many of the exemptions. Other doctors have complained that a few doctors who dole out the lion’s share of exemptions are creating pockets where under-immunized kids congregate — putting the entire community at risk.

The Great Scooter Debate of 2020

Scooter regulations are emerging as an early point of contention in the 2020 San Diego mayoral race.

In February, City Councilwoman Barbara Bry chastised local officials for being slow to respond to the potential hazards caused by the devices. She also criticized California lawmakers — and industry lobbyists — for repealing helmet requirements.

She didn’t name names, but she was referring to a bill co-written by one of her mayoral challengers, Assemblyman Todd Gloria.

The Union-Tribune reports that Bry also pushed for a ban on scooters in highly congested areas, including boardwalks, where pedestrians and bicyclists move at different speeds. Gloria, on the other hand, pointed to “geofencing” technology that would automatically slow scooters to a maximum speed of 8 mph in certain areas.

Politics Roundup

Rocky Chavez is not running again for the California Assembly, despite opening a campaign committee. He told us that, as a Republican with military experience, he feels he can make a greater impact in North County than in Sacramento. He’s chairing the Governor’s Military Council, which exists to keep the Department of Defense dollars flowing into the economy.

Senate Bill 615 is dead. San Diego City Councilman Chris Cate joined us on the podcast to bury a bill that would have made public records harder to obtain. He also talked about the city’s upcoming real estate negotiations with SDSU and the state of the Republican Party.

Eleven years since he lost re-election, Mike Aguirre remains in the psyche of the city attorney’s office. He argued that, because he was elected, he answered to the people, not the City Council or the mayor. In the Politics Report, Scott Lewis and Andrew Keatts consider the influence of Aguirre’s simple but disruptive idea on San Diego’s legal work.

San Diego has a reputation for small thinking and risk aversion. But big proposals on energy, transit and housing are earning San Diego widespread attention, U-T columnist Michael Smolens argues, in part because they are cutting-edge ideas that tend to be advanced elsewhere.

China Doesn’t Want Our Recyclables

The U-T reports that local cities are scrambling to save their recycling programs and find new markets in the wake of China’s ban on certain plastics and papers.

Officials, in the meantime, are urging residents to fill their blue bins with only locally approved materials. Some small towns in other parts of the country, according to the U-T, are dramatically scaling back or completely shutting down their operations.

Ry Rivard reported last year that San Diego used to send about 80 percent of its recycling abroad, mostly to China. The city, which used to get paid to send companies its recyclables, could have to pay companies to take recyclables.

In Other News

The Morning Report was written by Jesse Marx, and edited by Sara Libby.

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