Vermont mulls ban on philosophical vaccine exemptions

Kevin Mullin

Legislation that would remove the ability for Vermont parents to opt out of vaccinations for their children on philosophical grounds has begun to lose support.

Sen. Kevin Mullin (R-Rutland County) is backing a bill to stop the exemption in hopes that it could increase vaccination rates. Vaccination rates in Vermont kindergarteners has dropped from 93 to 83 percent since 2006, WCAX reports.

“There’s been a huge push back by the public on removing the philosophical exemption,” Mullin said, according to WCAX. “People have to realize that when they make a decision not to have a vaccine that they are not just impacting themselves, they’re impacting the larger community.”

Harry Chen, the Vermont health commissioner, shared a potential compromise with the Senate Health and Welfare Committee that would allow for the exemptions but would require parents to make the decision after weighing pros and cons with their doctor first.

“From a public health perspective is it smart to be compromising when it comes to issues of public health?” Chen asked, according to WCAX. “Again, as I said, the public health implications are clear. The policy decision is one the legislature will have to make. I am absolutely in favor for moving that exemption. I understand that that may not be a real-world view and possible, so I have to look at what the alternatives are.”

Chen’s proposal will be reviewed by the Senate later this week.

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