- Associated Press - Monday, October 19, 2015

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) - A measure to remove the personal or religious exemptions from Oklahoma’s childhood vaccination law has been assigned to the state Senate’s Health and Human Services Committee.

The Tulsa World reports (https://bit.ly/1hOoGbh ) committee chairman Sen. Rob Standridge, R-Norman, did not return phone calls seeking comment. He has previously said he wouldn’t hear the measure because he didn’t believe the government had an overwhelming reason to mandate childhood vaccinations.

The measure would require schoolchildren to receive vaccinations against diseases such as chickenpox, measles and whopping cough regardless of personal or religious preference. The medical exemption would remain.

Sen. Ervin Yen, R-Oklahoma City, filed the bill after last year’s measles outbreak at Disneyland in California.

“This is a public health issue, and this is a public safety issue,” Yen said. “I understand some of my Senate colleagues are for less government. I am for less government, too, but not when there are people in Oklahoma dying from easily preventable diseases. We all know, everyone knows, preventive health is much cheaper than treating diseases after they occur. That is what vaccinations are. They are preventive.”

Yen said he might seek to have his bill assigned to another committee or started in the House.

Rep. Doug Cox, R-Grove, strongly supports the measure and said he is considering starting it in the lower chamber. Cox and Yen both said that the misconception that vaccinations could cause autism has been disproven.

“The main concern is not necessarily the issue of vaccinations,” said Liza Greve, co-director of Oklahomans for Vaccine Choice. “It is government outreach. We believe that medical decisions are best made in the hands of parents in conjunction with their health practitioner.”

Sen. Nathan Dahm, R-Broken Arrow, who is opposed to the bill, aid if there is any possibility of harm associated with vaccinations, it should be at the parents’ discretion.

Tulsa doctor Andrew Revelis called the measure a solution in search of a problem. He said the state’s opt-out rate of 1.5 percent has remained steady for years and the state has not seen an increase in the diseases the vaccines are designed to protect against.


Information from: Tulsa World, https://www.tulsaworld.com

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