Arizona Bill Adding Religious Exemption For School Vaccination Fails

By Mariana Dale
Published: Tuesday, February 19, 2019 - 6:57pm
Updated: Wednesday, February 20, 2019 - 12:52pm
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A bill that would have allowed Arizona parents to claim a religious exemption for the requirement to vaccinate their children to attend school did not pass out of Senate committee Tuesday.

“From the bottom of my heart, I’m so sorry I couldn’t get the votes to get this out of committee today,” said Sen. Paul Boyer, who sponsored Senate Bill 1114.

Boyer’s bill proposed allowing parents to not vaccinate their children and submit a document stating their exemption on personal or religious beliefs.

“This creates a constitutionally protected sub-category of the current personal vaccine exemption that’s already offered as an option in state law,” Boyer said.

The number of parents that claim a non-medical exemption for their kids has increased in recent years.

In Maricopa County, 5.9 percent or approximately 3,157 kindergartners were exempt from vaccinations for a personal reason last year. Parents who choose this exemption submit this form to their child’s school.

Find more information on immunization requirements here.

Supporters of the bill often said their children were negatively impacted by vaccines or spoke about feeling bullied for not vaccinating their kids.

Opponents of the bill expressed concerns the exemption would decrease the number of people getting vaccinated and increase the spread of disease.

“When religious beliefs harm other people directly than I think we have to think about whether we extend those exemptions,” said pediatrician Brigham Willis during the committee.

No one who spoke at the meeting said they were unable to get an existing personal or medical exemption for vaccinations.

Listen to the entire Senate Education Committee discussion in the blue audio player at the top of the page.

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