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Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2019 - 2020 Regular Session


Posted: March 28, 2019 09:14 AM
From: Senator Daylin Leach
To: All Senate members
Subject: Increasing Immunization Rates in Pennsylvania
Soon I will introduce legislation designed to reduce the number of Pennsylvania children who do not receive safe vaccinations vital to their own health and safety and to the health and safety of others.

Since I first introduced a bill to eliminate our state’s philosophical exemption to vaccine requirements in 2015, Pennsylvania has improved its vaccination rate of school children. However, the data show an increase in the rate at which students refuse vaccinations, citing the statutory moral or religious exemption. While our statewide vaccination rate is acceptable, there are specific communities across the state that have dangerously low vaccination rates. This trend threatens the health and safety of the people of our Commonwealth who cannot get vaccinated due to pre-existing medical conditions.

To protect our most vulnerable citizens, the state needs to achieve herd immunity. The concept of herd immunity is based on that fact that germs travel quickly through a community, causing people to become sick and possibly leading to an outbreak. Vaccinations combat this by reducing the ability for germs to travel, which decreases the chances of an outbreak. As a result, individuals who are unable to get vaccinated for medical reasons are protected from encountering these germs.

According to the PA Department of Health, the level of immunization in a population required to achieve herd immunity differs from disease to disease, depending on factors like the effectiveness of a given vaccine, the length of the immunity provided by a given vaccine, and population dynamics.

Pennsylvania law requires that children receive certain vaccinations before they may attend school. To achieve herd immunity in the Commonwealth, my bill would eliminate our state’s religious and philosophical vaccination exemptions.

Please join me in supporting this important legislation.

If you have questions about this legislation, please don’t hesitate to contact me.

Introduced as SB653