- Associated Press - Sunday, June 7, 2015

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) - Oklahoma would cease to be one of less than two dozen states that allow parents to leave their schoolchildren unvaccinated because of philosophical reasons under a state lawmaker’s proposal to end certain exemptions.

Republican Sen. Ervin Yen of Oklahoma City tells The Oklahoman (http://bit.ly/1cF6sq6 ) he plans to file legislation next year to remove religious and philosophical exemptions. Oklahoma requires students be vaccinated to attend public schools, but is one of about 18 states that allows parents to choose a philosophical reason for not vaccinating their children.

Yen said he is concerned about the rising number of Oklahoma residents who are choosing not to vaccinate their children. He cited a California measles outbreak that has been linked to 125 cases, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“This is not telling people they have to vaccinate their kids - it’s telling them they need to vaccinate their kids if they go to public, private or parochial schools,” Yen said.

The Oklahoma State Department of Health reports only .3 percent of kindergartners weren’t vaccinated because of their parents’ personal beliefs in the 2004-05 school year. That number has risen to 1.1 percent in the 2014-15 school year, meaning about 550 unvaccinated children attend Oklahoma kindergartens.

Angie Hepp, a 30-year-old mother from Claremore, is not vaccinating her 4-year-old daughter and 2-year-old son.

“My children are born perfect,” said Claremore, a registered nurse. “They’re strong. They’re healthy. We feed them an excellent diet. They get fresh air. They get vitamin D. Their bodies are able to function.”

Dr. Steven Crawford, who serves as the department chair of family and preventive medicine at the University of Oklahoma College of Medicine, said those who are anti-vaccine typically come from high-income families.

“My belief is that, for one, they’re educated, and they believe they want to be very involved in their children’s health, and they look up things on the Internet and Google, and when you Google stuf?f, unfortunately there’s a lot of fake science,” Crawford said.

Crawford said vaccines are considered safe by the medical community.

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Information from: The Oklahoman, http://www.newsok.com

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