Health care workers who provide care for children in a northeastern U.S. state would be prohibited from obtaining free vaccines to prevent diseases such as whooping cough under a National Conference of State Legislatures
Indiana state Representative Jim Lucas, R-Seymour, filed the law. The Wisconsin Centers for Disease Control says state officials have not discussed the legislation.
“We can’t get the information in time to determine any risks involved,” said CDC spokesman Dwight Decker, “there’s a good possibility he’ll bring it up again.”
In all, 27 states passed laws allowing state health workers to obtain the shots, while two other states took similar action. In Alaska, the state Senate last month passed a bill that would allow community health workers to be reimbursed for the shots through Medicaid.
Biden urged supporters of these bills to lobby states to consider taking similar action,
Minnesota’s Health Facilities Commissioner Michael Schommer said about 200 patients a year have been affected.
The case triggered cries of hypocrisy from the vaccine-autism movement. They fear that some vaccines, particularly those for vaccines for childhood diseases such as chicken pox, can promote autism. Autism prevalence is often blamed on vaccinations given to children at the age of two or three years old.
House health committee Chairman Paul Wieland, R-Falls City, said Friday the legislation won’t be included in the Committee’s agenda until an updated definition of “health care worker” has been developed.
The bill was originally intended to allow a child’s mother to opt out of one or more vaccines for her children and then be reimbursed for the other vaccines at a later date. Now, the law would only reimburse those providers for an adult-only shot.
Biden, in his speech Thursday, argued that it’s time to allow faith-based vaccinations.
“If the American people are right, the time for personal religious exemptions will go the way of the South African apartheid,” Biden said.
Massachusetts legislators passed a bill to prevent future outbreaks from their state this summer. The new law allows vaccine denial on religious grounds. Massachusetts officials have said it’s too early to tell if the outbreak is related to the restriction.
“There’s not a great deal of evidence that religious reasons are a major factor,” Decker said.
Utah state Senator Leonard Blackham, a Republican who sponsored a similar bill, was voted out of the Senate Health Committee at the end of June on a 5-4 vote. Blackham had said he wanted to bring at least some risk mitigation measures to the debate to give parents an alternative to refusing vaccinations for their children.
Members of both parties urged the committee to pass a compromise, yet only one Democrat voted in favor of the Blackham bill. Sen. Daniel Thatcher, a member of the committee, said he knew some parents would be upset by his support, but he felt the proposal would “enable those who are committed to the hygiene that is embedded in society.”
“To be able to vaccinate the children that are immuno-compromised would simply tie the hands of those who are concerned about children’s immunity to make a profession out of these immune disorders,” Thatcher said.
The Nation reported that when Blackham arrived on the Hill in 2008, pro-choice Republicans and most pro-vaccine Democrats were united in opposition to his bill. “[T]he whole conservative elite pushed him away from the bill,” The Nation quoted a former staffer as saying. “They wanted to contain it. They figured if they limited the number of exemptions, then they’d have an advantage in the next election.”
Blackham said he didn’t find any additional exemptions beneficial to him, “if there’s any correlation between the vaccines and autism.”
“All people are better off when everyone gets the same shot,” he said.