Immunization Requirements Become Bipartisan Issue

MN Legislature Hopes to Make it Harder for Parents to Opt-Out of Immunizations

U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Matthew Lotz

MINNEAPOLIS- A legislative response to the measles outbreak and wariness to immunization in general is in the works at the Minnesota capitol.

Rep. Mike Freiberg (D-Golden Valley) introduced legislation that would require parents to first hear the verifiable medical information on vaccines prior to receiving an exemption for their child. Specifically the bill states that the information will be “consistent with information published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.”

Freiberg told Alpha News a major reason for this legislation was, “There is a lot of misinformation out there about vaccines, misinformation which has contributed to the current outbreak of measles in Minnesota.  Having parents consult with a health professional prior to opting their children out of vaccinations can help dispel this misinformation.  This would help increase vaccination rates, which will stop the spread of vaccine preventable diseases that are debilitating and potentially deadly.”

“If you make it at least as inconvenient, frankly, for them to not get vaccinated as it is to get vaccinated and in the process provide them with medically accurate information, then I think it’s very likely that they will actually get their children vaccinated,” Friedberg told MPR.

Additionally, the bill also stipulates that a “child may be prohibited from attending school or the child care facility during an outbreak of the disease for which the child has not been immunized.”

The bill cuts language which said, “If a notarized statement signed by the minor child’s parent or guardian or by the emancipated person is submitted to the administrator or other person having general control and supervision of the school or child care facility stating that the person has not been immunized as prescribed in subdivision 1 because of the conscientiously held beliefs of the parent or guardian of the minor child or the emancipated person, the immunizations specified in the statement shall not be required. This statement must also be forwarded to the commissioner of the Department of Health.”

A major concern of those who oppose the legislation has been that it interferes with the right of parents to choose what medical care their child should have.

However, Rep. Mark Uglem (R-Champlin) told Alpha News that these concerns do not stand up.

“The government has always provided for public safety, and has a proven record in public health initiatives,” Uglem said.

In early May, Alpha News reported how anti-vaccine sentiments have played a pivotal role in influencing parents within the Somali community to forgo vaccinations for their children. In fact, the Minnesota Department of Health has recorded that 1,968 kindergartners have not been vaccinated for measles simply because their parents did not want them vaccinated for it.

Currently, there have been 64 confirmed cases of measles within Minnesota in 2017. There exists a very real possibility that the measles outbreak was brought over from Somalia as the outbreak started within the Somali community and Somalia itself is facing a measles epidemic, where over 2,000 people have been affected.

“This bipartisan bill will be supported by the majority of the Republican caucus because of the obvious problems we are now encountering with the Somali outbreak of measles in Minnesota,” Uglem said.

Regardless, a poll at the Minnesota state fair shows that the majority of Minnesotans, 81 percent, support the legislation.

Henry Carras