Bill Addressing VT Philosophical Exemptions is Halfway There
Mar 16, 2012

We covered this before and will no doubt cover it again.
The use of philosophical vaccine exemptions available in many states allow children to attend public schools without the state mandated vaccinations.  In some states, such as Vermont, there is concern about the growing use of these exemptions and how an increased number of unvaccinated children may threaten the health of other students.  There are a number of new laws in various states to address these concerns, some even calling for a more comprehensive discussion of vaccinations benefits before allowing parents to opt out of the required vaccines.
In Vermont a recent bill to remove philosophical exemptions has passed the Vermont State Senate with a 25-4 vote in favor of the new legislation.  However, even with overwhelming support in the State Senate, there may still be a struggle to get it through the House.  Currently, the bill has been assigned to the House Health Care Committee for further review, who are already hearing from opponents of the bill.
A recent op-ed from Dr. Lou DiNicola, a pediatrician at Gifford Medical Center in Randolph and the president of the American Academy of Pediatrics Vermont Chapter ran in the Valley News and the Rutland Herald.  It highlighted the concerns that parents and pediatricians have in regards to the use of philosophical exemptions in Vermont, stating,

“Last year 5.4 percent of all kindergarteners, or more than 1 in 20, were enrolled in public schools by parents who used the philosophical exemption to avoid immunizations. The recent surge in the potentially deadly but preventable disease whooping cough is an indicator of how Vermont’s reduced immunization rate is leading to real-world consequences. Last year the Department of Health reported 91 cases. In 2010 it was only 18.”

If you would like to help protect the health of children in Vermont by supporting the removal of the philosophical exemptions, it’s important that you take action by contacting the Speaker of the House Shap Smith,  the House Health Care Committee and your representative or all representatives.  You can also call and leave a message at the State House for a committee member to call you back at 802-828-2228.
The committee may also be planning a public hearing one evening next week and we will be sure to keep you updated on any further information we receive.  If this bill is to proceed it can not be accomplished without your involvement at this critical time.
Of course, we welcome your comments about this bill and hope you will let us know if you plan to take action to support it.

Representative Shap Smith, Speaker of the House
(802) 828-2245 or
House Health Care Committee
Mike Fisher of Lincoln, Chair  – (802) 453-5517 or
Sarah Copeland-Hanzas of Bradford, Vice Chair – (802) 222-3536 or
Paul Poirier of Barre City, Ranking Member – (802) 476-7870 or,
Leigh Dakin of Chester, Clerk  – (802) 875-3456 or
Jim Eckhardt of Chittenden – (802) 342-0140 or
Patti Komline of Dorset – (802) 867-4232 or
Mary Morrissey of Bennington – (802) 442-2092 or
Chris Pearson of Burlington – (802) 860-3933 or
Kristy Spengler of Colchester – (802) 864-6567 or
George Till, M.D. of Jericho – (802) 899-2984 or
Mark Woodward of Johnson – (802) 635-7166 or

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