By Kavin Senapathy
A West Virginia grassroots network is calling on lawmakers to not allow religious or philosophical vaccine exemptions for children attending public school or state-regulated child care centers.
“West Virginia is in trouble,” Meredith Snead, a concerned native of the state who is spearheading the effort, told me of Senate Bill 359. “No one listened” she says of the many times her impoverished state has been let down. “There is nowhere else I’d rather be, but the people of my state have been sold out by politicians and businessmen over and over.” The state is one of only three in the U.S., along with California and Mississippi, that only allow physician-recommended exemptions for clearly-defined cases in which immunization is contraindicated.
Introduced on February 21st, the bill contains language that would potentially wreak havoc in the state by allowing parents to forgo vaccines for their children for religious or philosophical reasons. Data suggest that parents in WV vaccinate their children primarily because they have no other choice, and rates would dip dangerously if non-medical exemptions were allowed. Consider that vaccination for preschool-aged children in the state are among the lowest in the nation according to the CDC. By contrast, when kids reach elementary school, rates climb starkly to 97% or higher for all recommended vaccines. In conjunction with current narrow medical exemptions allowed in WV, the relatively high poverty levels mean that parents don’t have the resources to opt out of public school, so vaccination rates jump and remain high for school-aged children.
Continue reading by clicking the name of the source below.