HB1090 proposes a change to ensure that parents and their children in Virginia have the best guidelines for recommended vaccination schedules.
This is not a legislative matter. The legislative issue is: are we going to require kids to get vaccinated to go to school or not?
This issue has already been decided, and we do. We require our children to get vaccines in order to go to school, and we also have opt-out options so that parents who object, particularly for religious reasons, do not have to meet those requirements. HB1090 does not change this process and it does not take the decision making power away from parents. It only updates and provides a way to keep Virginia up-to-date on which vaccines are recommended to prevent disease.
In fact the Virginia Code already requires a “child to be immunized in accordance with the immunization schedule developed and published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP), the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), and the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP).” Va. Code § 32.1-46(A). Let me repeat that this
is already in the Code of Virginia and has been since 2006 (See photo to the right). This language is not new in HB1090. There is new language later in the bill that addresses the CDC, but the requirement in Virginia is already that we follow the CDC vaccination schedule.
In fact the Virginia Code already
requires a “child to be immunized in accordance with the immunization schedule developed and published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP), the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), and the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP).” Va. Code § 32.1-46(A). Let me repeat that this
the CDC vaccination schedule.
Currently, Virginia Code requires vaccinations for school attendance, with opt-out provisions for parents. The problem is, because of political inaction, the Virginia vaccination list has not been updated in the Code since 2007. The Centers for Disease Control continues to update which vaccinations are in the public health’s best interest, but Virginia is not including those in our requirements. When vaccines are not required in code, the Health Department cannot purchase or administer those vaccinations. This means that Virginians who cannot afford these vaccinations or who do not have health insurance can’t even get them from the health departments.
We need to update our Code so that it reflects the most current vaccination schedule so that as the health experts find better ways to prevent disease, our health departments and Virginia will stay up to date and have available the latest and best disease prevention vaccines for everyone.
I strongly support vaccinations. There is no better medicine than preventing disease from ever happening. The vaccine schedule is a list of what vaccines are recommended and when you should get them. The Centers for Disease Control, as the name implies, is the best entity to determine the latest science on which vaccines work and when you should get them. These recommendations evolve as we develop more effective vaccines and learn better when to give them to prevent disease.
It is in the best interest of the Commonwealth to ensure that children who are in close contact in schools be protected from exposure and transmission of these highly contagious illnesses. Several years ago, I was involved with Virginia’s Joint Commission on Health Care study to determine whether Virginia vaccinations should be mandatory with no opt-out provisions. Despite my strong support for vaccination, I did not support this effort. I believe inherently parents have the best interests of their children in mind and are better capable than the government to decide what’s best for their children. Because HB1090 does not change the opt-out provisions for parents, I support it. It’s the right thing to do.
Here is a copy of the bill: