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Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2017 - 2018 Regular Session


Posted: January 9, 2017 12:57 PM
From: Senator Daylin Leach
To: All Senate members
Subject: Increasing Immunization Rates in Pennsylvania
In the near future I will re-introduce legislation designed to reduce the number of Pennsylvania children who do not receive safe vaccinations vital to their health and safety, the health and safety of other children, and the public in general.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Pennsylvania has the second lowest vaccination rate in the nation. While Pennsylvania law requires that children receive certain vaccinations before they may attend school, exemptions exist for a pre-existing health issue, a religious objection, or "a strong moral or ethical conviction similar to a religious belief.”

My bill will eliminate only the exemption for “a strong moral or ethical conviction similar to a religious belief.” Based on statistics compiled by the Pennsylvania Department of Health for the 2013-14 school year, 2,988 students received the religious exemption, while 3,394 received the philosophical exemption. Thus, my bill would reduce, by more than half, the number of children not vaccinated in Pennsylvania for non-medical reasons.

Given the danger that a low vaccination rate poses to public health, it is imperative that we take reasonable steps to increase the vaccination rate.

If you have questions about this legislation, please contact my Legislative Director, Jon Tew at jtew@pasenate.com or 610-768-4200.

Introduced as SB217