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House of Representatives
Session of 2017 - 2018 Regular Session


Posted: January 2, 2018 09:58 AM
From: Representative Russ Diamond and Rep. Francis X. Ryan
To: All House members
Subject: School Vaccination and Exemption Announcements
In the near future we will be introducing legislation to address a problem that became apparent last summer when notices of the time period change for obtaining vaccinations for school attendance were publicly distributed. These notices, in many cases, stated that children must have certain vaccines within a five-day window or they could not attend school, but failed to mention that, alternatively, religious or medical exemptions could be obtained.

Many news outlets repeated these notices exactly as distributed, and by omitting any mention of exemptions, effectively and incorrectly stated or implied that there was no alternative but to be up to date on all vaccinations within the window or submit a medical provider's plan to get children up to date.

This resulted in unnecessary public confusion. A constituent activist received numerous contacts from parents, who already had religious or other exemptions, believing their exemptions were taken away, and attempted to set the record straight via a flurry of interviews and letters to newspapers. Our offices received calls from confused parents as well.

These notices from school districts and the Department of Health on numerous occasions found their way into legislative twitter feeds, social media, and other legislative updates, in most cases omitting the alternative provided within the School Code for obtaining a religious or medical exemption.

Our legislation would require the exemptions contained in the School Code to be disclosed whenever school districts or other government agencies announce vaccination requirements for school attendance.

Please join us in co-sponsoring this common sense legislation to provide full and complete disclosure of school attendance requirements to parents.

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Introduced as HB2037