One of the surprise controversies of 2012 arrived at the Legislature in the form of a bill that sought to rescind the “philosophical exemption” invoked by hundreds of parents across Vermont to sidestep school vaccination requirements.
A grassroots coalition of well-organized citizens managed to quash the legislation, convincing lawmakers to adopt a watered-down version that made it only slightly more difficult to invoke the exemption.
One the top supporters of the 2012 bill, however, is renewing the push this year to address what he says are alarmingly low vaccination rates in pockets of the state.
Rep. George Till, a Jericho Democrat and the lone medical doctor in the Legislature, wants to remove both the philosophical and religious exemptions for the vaccination that prevents pertussis — aka whooping cough. And at public schools where the vaccination rate drops below 90 percent, Till has a separate bill that would revoke the religious and philosophical exemptions for any vaccination.
Till says the pertussis problem is particularly acute, growing from 18 confirmed cases in 2010 to 645 in 2012.
“And in 2012 that included four cases in infants,” Till says. “And while we got lucky and none of them died, the mortality rates for infants is 50 percent, so we really could have had a tragedy.”
The second bill would take a school-by-school approach to the vaccination issue, eliminating the religious and philosophical exemptions only at public schools that fall below the 90 percent threshold. When rates for any single vaccination fell below that mark, Till says, his bill would require all current and prospective students to have the vaccine administered. Parents that didn’t comply wouldn’t be allowed to send their children to the school. Till says the bill preserves the medical exemption.
Rep. Mike Fisher, chairman of the House Committee on Health Care (on which Till also sits), doesn’t sound keen on revisiting the vaccine issue.
He says the House dedicated a lot of time to the issue last year.
“We addressed vaccinations last year, and I think we should give that law time to play out before coming back to it,” Fisher says. “I don’t think we’re interested in taking it up at this time.”
In a report submitted last week to the Legislature, Commissioner of Health Harry Chen said the most effective way to protect “immunocompromised” students is to require universal immunization.MORE IN Vermont NewsMONTPELIER — New management plans for a vast section of Vermont’s remote Northeast Kingdom — an... Full Story
- Most Popular
- Most Emailed
- RICHARD'S POOR ALMANACK: In 1944, U.S. begins B-29 bombing raids on Japanese main islands; in 1950, Great Appalachian Storm begins to form; 1963, Lee Oswald killed by Jack Ruby; 1974, D.B. Cooper hijacks Seattle-bound airliner; 1974, 'Lucy' found.
- RICHARD'S POOR ALMANACK: On this day in 1927, striking Colo. miners attacked with machine guns by state police; 1877, Thomas Edison announces invention of the phonograph, 1959, Alan Freed fired by WABC 770 AM for accepting payola to promote records.
- RICHARD'S POOR ALMANACK: On this day in 1863, President Abraham Lincoln delivers short speech in Gettysburg, Pa.; in 1984, a Pemex LNG facility destroyed by series of gas explosions, 600 people are killed; in 1998, Senate builds fire under Bill Clinton.
- RICHARD'S POOR ALMANACK: On this day in 1831 – Independent South American super-state, Gran Colombia, dissolved; 1856 - Fort Buchanan built to control Apache warriors; 1970 - William Calley Jr. goes on trial after 1968 massacre at My Lai, Vietnam.
- RICHARD'S POOR ALMANACK: Wisconsin Sen. Joe McCarthy takes advantage of Cold War jitters and builds a tidy little fiefdom for himself on Capitol Hill. It's all good, but pride goes before you know darn well what. The junior senator is damaged going down.
- RICHARD'S POOR ALMANACK: On this day in 1927, Leon Trotsky is expelled from the Soviet Communist Party, leaving Joseph Stalin in control of the Soviet Union; in 1970, Oregon DOT tries to dynamite a dead whale off a beach with a rather shocking result.