A bill that would reinstate the ability of parents to exempt their children from required vaccinations based on religious beliefs passed the State Senate Education Committee in West Virginia on Thursday.
Senate Bill 537 would allow parents to exempt their child from required vaccines by submitting a notarized certification that the religious beliefs of the signator - the child’s parent or legal guardian - are contrary to required immunizations.
The Education Committee voted 7-6 to send the proposal to the Senate floor, with the recommendation the Senate Health and Human Services Committee first review the measure.
The bill would also eliminate the authority of the Immunization Officer, an appointed position and licensed physician who currently reviews exemption requests.
Two doctors, Dr. Alvin Moss, a professor at the West Virginia University Health Sciences Center, and Dr. Suzanne Humphries, author of the controversial “Dissolving Illusions,” an anti-vaccination book, both testified that vaccinations can be dangerous and ineffective.
Sen. Mike Romano called the proposal an “insult to years of medical progress,” citing Jonas Salk, who developed the polio vaccine.
“I wonder how Jonas Salk would have felt if we eradicated polio only 50 percent of the way, but it was still around and getting transmitted because not everyone got inoculated,” said Romano.
A bill that would have required parents to watch a short video before exempting their child from required vaccinations failed Thursday in the Oklahoma State Senate.
In its original form, Senate Bill 83 aimed to eliminate religious and personal exemptions from required vaccinations for Oklahoma school-children.
After facing significant opposition, the bill’s author, Sen. Ervin Yen, amended the bill while it was debated by the Senate Health and Human Services Committee.
The amended measure, which passed the committee 7-4, would have required parents to watch an informational video about vaccine risks and benefits in order for their child to qualify for a nonmedical exemption from immunization.
The bill failed 16-26, with opponents stating the measure would be burdensome for school districts and for parents.
It might be “a little trouble to watch a video, but it is a little trouble to put your baby in a car seat,” Yen has said of the proposal. “We are just asking [parents] to jump through a few hoops to make sure [they] understand the ramifications of that choice.”
Sen. Micheal Bergstrom said vaccinations save lives and that asking parents to watch a video is not too much.
“If it a hoop to jump through, let them jump through a simple hoop,” said Bergstrom.
Yen introduced similar legislation during the state’s 2015 and 2016 legislative sessions - neither of which made it to the Senate floor for a vote.
Regan et. al Clinical Infectious Diseases
Mothers who received seasonal TIV during pregnancy were significantly less likely to experience stillbirth compared with unvaccinated mothers. These results support the safety of seasonal influenza immunization during pregnancy and suggest a protective effect.
Oboho et al. The Journal of Infectious Diseases
Pregnant women are at higher risk for serious illness and complications, including death, from influenza. For expectant mothers hospitalized with flu, early treatment with the influenza antiviral drug oseltamivir may shorten their time in the hospital, especially in severe cases, suggests a study published in The Journal of Infectious Diseases. The findings also underscore the importance of flu vaccination for this risk group.