Metts bills seek vaccination choices
STATE HOUSE – Sen. Harold M. Metts has introduced two bills aimed at giving parents more choice about vaccinations for their children.
Legislation he introduced in February articulates adults’ right to decide whether or not they will vaccinate themselves or their children for a non-casual contact disease transmitted by sexual contact, and allows them to opt out of requirements for such vaccinations when enrolling their children at public or private schools.
The bill (2018-S 2405) addresses a Department of Health regulation requiring students enrolled in public or private schools to be vaccinated against Human Papillomavirus (HPV) beginning in seventh grade.
The mandate, which took effect in 2015, has been controversial in part because HPV is sexually transmitted and because some view the regulation as government intrusion.
“There is a limit to how much of your personal life the state government can control. HPV has nothing to do with school. It isn’t contracted there, so no one should be prohibited from attending school because they aren’t vaccinated against it. People have a lot of reasons they don’t want to give their children this particular vaccine. They should be free to make that decision without any threat or risk that their children will be denied an education as a result,” said Senator Metts (D-Dist. 6, Providence).
The bill also requires that all correspondence to parents of students concerning the vaccination requirement inform them of this right to opt out.
His other bill (2018-S 2670) is a resolution urging Congress to study whether vaccines are associated with an increased risk of autism. It also asks Congress to amend the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act to require that patients and parents be given information regarding the risks and benefits of vaccinations; to allow single measles, mumps, and rubella vaccines to be made available; and to require that all vaccines be classified as pharmaceutical drugs and tested accordingly.
Additionally, the resolution asks Congress to subpoena Dr. William Thompson, a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention scientist who has raised concerns about data in a 2004 study he coauthored that reported no link between autism and the MMR vaccine. Thompson’s concerns related to the exclusion of data about increased rates of autism among African-American boys who had received the vaccine.
“Many parents have concerns and questions about vaccines and their benefits and risks, particularly whether they are linked to an increase in autism rates. Instead of continuing to tell people ‘Just trust us, vaccines are safe,’ the government should be more open and should clear the air about autism and vaccines. Additionally, parents should be given all the pros and cons and have options when it comes to vaccinating their children,” said Senator Metts.
For more information, contact:
Legislative Press Bureau,
State House Room 20
Providence, RI 02903