Vaccine Exemption Bill Dies in Committee

Vaccine Exemption Bill Dies in Committee

March 2 is the end of the Iowa Legislature’s first “funnel”: the date by which most policy bills must advance through committee in order to receive further consideration. One of the casualties of the funnel deadline is HF 7, which would allow an exemption from compulsory immunization based on someone’s “personal conviction.” (For more information on this legislation, visit here).

 

By a 2-1 vote, a House Human Resources subcommittee approved the legislation after a hearing on January 24. The subcommittee acted despite organizational opposition and statements against it, including testimony by Dr. Nathan Boonstra, a UnityPoint infectious disease expert and an Iowa-AAP board member. Dr. Boonstra warned that adding unvaccinated children to a classroom dramatically increases the risk of disease for others around them who might not be able to be vaccinated — particularly children with special medical needs like congenital heart disease or severe asthma.

 

HF 7 reportedly faced bipartisan opposition from a significant majority of the House Human Resources Committee. As a result, the committee chair, Rep. Joel Fry (pictured), did not bring the bill up for a vote — leading it to its demise at funnel’s end.

Iowa-AAP Opposes Bill Expanding Immunization Exemptions

The Iowa Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics is opposing legislation (HF 7) that would allow an exemption from the state’s compulsory immunization law based on someone’s “personal conviction.” Current Iowa law (Iowa Code 139A.8) allows for exemptions only if (1) a medical professional attests that immunizing would be “injurious” or (2) immunization would conflict with the “tenets or practices” of a person’s “recognized religious denomination.”

 

An American Academy of Pediatrics statement on childhood immunization calls it one of the “crown achievements” in public health and a major component of pediatric health care and disease prevention. The statement recommends permitting only medical exemptions to school entry immunization requirements.

 

Sixteen states currently allow conscientious or philosophical exemptions to compulsory immunizations. Such laws were blamed for a 2014 outbreak of measles in California and other states – the worst in 20 years.

 

Several other medical and educational organizations have registered against HF 7. The House Human Resources will consider the bill; it is not yet assigned to a subcommittee.

 

Update: This legislation stalled in the House Human Resources Committee (more).