* I told subscribers about this bill the other day and the huge number of hysterical opposition phonecalls Sen. Steans’ offices are receiving…
Under newly introduced state legislation, parents in Illinois would no longer be able to claim religion as a reason to refuse vaccinations for their children — a move backed by public health officials as a way to stave off outbreaks of diseases once thought to be eradicated, and shunned by groups vocal about their objections to vaccines.
The bill introduced last week would also limit the reasons allowed for a medical exemption for the immunizations required to enter all Illinois schools, and would allow students as young as 14 to obtain a vaccine without the consent of their parents. If passed, Illinois would become the sixth state to remove religious exemptions, effectively making only certain medical conditions or reactions a way for students in Illinois schools to avoid vaccination. […]
In 2016, the state tightened the rules surrounding religious exemptions, requiring that health care providers sign off and verify that they had provided vaccine education. Despite that, religious exemptions have increased for several vaccines, according to state records. Exemptions based solely on personal or philosophical beliefs are not allowed in Illinois.
Medical experts say high vaccination rates — usually 95% or more, depending on the disease — are necessary to protect those who cannot be vaccinated due to autoimmune disorders or other medical reasons. But distrust in vaccines has caused some Americans to refuse vaccines for their children despite wide availability. This, in part, is blamed for the reemergence of some diseases like measles, according to the World Health Organization, which considers vaccine hesitancy a global health threat.
The bill is here.
* CBS News…
The legislation has the backing of the Illinois Department of Public Health, according to spokeswoman Melaney Arnold, the Chicago Tribune reports. The department hopes the bill will increase vaccination rates in the Prairie State “and reduce the risk of severe illness among our most vulnerable populations,” according to the outlet.
Opponents of the bill vehemently disagree with the proposed changes. The Illinois Vaccine Awareness Coalition, a group which regularly advocates against the use of vaccines, posted a call to oppose the bill on its website.
“Please WITHDRAW SB3668 – this bill is unnecessary and discriminatory,” the group wrote as an example of what to say to the bill’s sponsor. “Vaccine exemptions are not the problem, schools failing to collect and submit vaccine record paperwork is the problem…Please focus on the serious record keeping issue and don’t remove religious and parental rights based on misrepresented immunization levels.”
Most of the replies to Sen. Steans’ Facebook post are just way over the top. They’re a clear demonstration of why this policy is needed. People are endangering others’ lives.
According to the synopsis of the bill, the proposed legislation would remove all language from state law that would let children attend school without being vaccinated because of religious reasons.
According to state immunization data, about 3% of all Illinois students are not vaccinated against major diseases from measles and mumps to polio and chicken pox.
It amounts to about 64,000 students statewide. Of those, about 18,000 are listed as noncompliant due to religious exemptions. About 2,300 are not vaccinated because of medical reasons. Less than 5,000 students are on approved alternate schedules.
As we’ve discussed before, some schools have huge non-compliance rates.