State lawmakers wisely consider changes to vaccine exemptions

USA Today reports, “California lawmakers are debating a bill that aims to boost the number of kids who go to school with all of their shots.” The move is in reaction to “the resurgence of once-forgotten infectious diseases, including what could be the biggest epidemic of whooping cough in 50 years.”

The bill under consideration “would require that parents meet with a health care provider before getting a waiver based on personal beliefs.”

Similar legislation was approved in Washington state in 2011, and was considered but not approved in Arizona this year, while “Vermont lawmakers considered, but voted against, a measure to eliminate the state’s philosophical exemption.”

In Washington, “the percentage of kindergartners with vaccine exemptions dropped from 6% in the 2010-11 school year to 4.5% in 2011-12.”

And, “eight states this year considered, but failed to pass proposals to make it easier to opt out of shots.”

As vaccine expert, Paul Offit, MD, writes:

I think we should call these exemptions what they really are. Let’s not sugarcoat this choice.

We should call them the “I do not want to get vaccines because I have read a lot of scary things about vaccines and I am afraid that they might hurt my child, and I am not so sure I believe in pharmaceutical companies or the medical establishment or the government, so I do not want my child to get them” vaccine exemption.

That would be, I think, more honest.


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