State News

Elimination of philosophical exemption survives challenge

By Morgan True,

The House vote to eliminate a philosophical exemption to childhood vaccines at the time of school entry left a bad taste in the mouths of some lawmakers, but efforts to reconsider that decision failed Wednesday, May 13. The legislation passed by the House on Tuesday would eliminate the philosophical exemption on July 1, 2016. The Senate is expected to concur with the House-passed legislation removing the philosophical exemption before it goes to the governor’s desk. Gov. Peter Shumlin said Wednesday that he’s “inclined” to sign the bill, but will review it once it’s sent to his office before making a final decision.

Rep. Anne Donahue, who offered a proposal Tuesday, May 12, that many viewed as a compromise— but which failed by just two votes—made the motion for reconsideration.

There are 3,479 children in Vermont covered by philosophical exemptions, which represents 3.8 percent of all students in the state, according to the most recent Department of Health figures.

“As you know, there are strongly held and strongly expressed feelings on both sides of this issue, and as you know, I’ve been sympathetic to both. I think Vermonters should vaccinate their kids,” Shumlin told reporters.

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