Wisconsin bill would end common vaccine exemption

There are three reasons a parent can use to avoid getting their child vaccinated before entering school. But a new Wisconsin bill would end one of the most common exemptions.

As the measles outbreak continues in multiple states, the Assembly’s minority leader is bringing back the bill he first introduced a few years ago. The hope is that more children would have to get the MMR vaccine before an outbreak hits the state.

When Rep. Gordon Hintz, (D) Oshkosh, first introduced the legislation that would get rid of the personal conviction waiver, there were other measles outbreaks happening around the United States.

“Wisconsin had an alarming increase in the number of kids that were not getting vaccinated. And it was really about drawing attention to the fact that the trends were heading in the wrong direction,” Hintz said.

About 90% of the children in the state who opt-out, don’t get vaccines because their parents cite personal convictions. Although that waiver would go away, the bill would still allow for medical or religious waivers.

“We can’t risk the health and well being of all kids because some are choosing for their own personal reasons not to get vaccinated,” Hintz said.

In La Crosse County, nearly 90% of 1 year olds received their first round of the MMR vaccine, but that drops to 85% percent for children between 5 to 18 years old.

“We would like to see those vaccination numbers actually up around 96 to 97%,” said Jo Foellmi, a public health nurse for La Crosse County.

If the numbers reached that level, it would be less likely that these diseases would spread to others who aren’t able to get vaccinated– either because of their age or for other medical reasons.

“You’re starting to protect the community, not just yourself,” Foellmi said.

Rep. Hintz is hopeful that the bill will receive support and get passed so more people get vaccinated.

“There are 22 states and more than 700 cases of measles just in 2019 alone. And it’s only a matter of time, and with the numbers headed in the wrong direction, I think state government has an obligation to protect their citizens,” Hintz said.

The bill is being circulated right now to get more legislators to sign on to the bill. Then over the next few months, they hope to have public hearings about what it could mean for residents.

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