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Anti-vaccination proposals aired in Missouri Legislature

Anti-vaccination proposals aired in Missouri Legislature

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JEFFERSON CITY • Amid international concern about the reappearance of diseases that were once thought to be eradicated, Missouri lawmakers are pushing plans favored by people who believe vaccinations are harmful.

In a hearing room packed with parents and small children, a House panel heard debate Monday on a proposal to prohibit discrimination against children who haven’t been vaccinated. The committee also is considering legislation that would require doctors to provide patients with information about the “benefits and risks of each vaccine.”

The push comes against the backdrop of an outbreak of measles, prompting a national call for people to vaccinate their children.

But, said Rep. Lynn Morris, R-Ozark, people should have a choice and not be punished for deciding against vaccinations.

“I’m a pharmacist. I’m not against vaccines,” Morris said. “I am for people having the right to choose what they want done to their children. Parents are getting bullied. They are being intimidated. I just don’t think that’s right.”

Under his legislation, state law would prohibit public schools, universities, day care facilities and doctors from turning a child away if they have received an exemption from vaccinations because of medical or religious reasons.

Morris said he believes that vaccinations have injured people, but the media aren’t reporting it.

“They hide it,” Morris said.

Arnold Shreffler, a Springfield resident, also was among those who told the panel that said there is a conspiracy to hide the dangers of vaccines.

“The only thing you hear in physician’s offices and the mainstream media is that vaccines are safe,” said Shreffler, who said vaccines led to his children having autism.

The other proposal, sponsored by Rep. Dottie Bailey, R-Eureka, would require a health care provider who administers vaccines to provide the benefits and risks of each vaccine and other specific information about the contents of a vaccine.

It also would require a parent to be told how to report a vaccine-adverse event.

Concerns about the dangers of vaccines have been debunked, but they persist on social media and other platforms.

In March, a 10-year Danish study of 10,000 children validated the results of a 2002 study that found no relationship between the vaccination for measles and autism.

On its website, the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services also addresses the anti-vaccination movement.

“Vaccines are safe and effective,” the agency says. “This is why it is important for everyone to receive all of the recommended immunizations on time.”

Yet, the number of U.S. measles cases continues to grow.

Health officials say 465 measles cases have been reported this year, as of last week. That’s up from 387 the week before. The numbers are preliminary. The 2019 tally is already the most since 2014, when 667 were reported. The most before that was 963 cases in 1994.

The discrimination legislation is House Bill 711.

The consent bill is House Bill 1164.

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