TUCSON- A series of state house bills could make it easier for Arizona parents to skip out on mandatory vaccinations for their children.
House bills 2470, 2471, and 2472 would expand vaccine exemptions on religious grounds, require doctors give extensive information on the vaccines, and ensure parents are given the option to test their children for immunity before a vaccine is administered.
The sponsor behind the measures, Representative Nancy Barto, said the bills are not anti-vaccination. She said it’s about giving people a choice.
“As lawmakers, it is our job not just to protect the majority, but to protect everyone in our community which includes the growing population of vaccine injured,” she said in written statement to News 4 Tucson. “We do not believe these bills will cause more people to choose not to vaccinate. Our hope is that they will simply give those with strong religious beliefs, and those with a family history that is contraindicated for vaccination, an option to choose based on better-informed consent.”
But the bills are drawing backlash from many medical professionals.
“It’s a huge threat to public health,” said Dr. Serign Marong, a faculty physician with the University of Arizona. “There are lots of people- children, older adults- who are immunocompromised. Something is wrong with their immune system and they can’t get the vaccine. So now they’re going to go to a public place, where someone is unvaccinated and can easily spread that.”
The bills passed one House committee, but still need a vote by the full House of Representatives.
Gov. Doug Ducey has stated that he will not sign any legislation that would lead to fewer vaccinated children, though he did not mention these specific bills by name.