Growing up without a vaccine is a nightmare, but now, the world is waking up to the reality of the epidemic and is taking action to protect their kids from it.
Read moreThe Hill’s Mark Berman reports.
A bill introduced Thursday by Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) would allow parents to vaccinate their children for up to six months and give them the option to delay vaccinating for up, three, or no more than one year.
The bill would also provide $10 million to fund additional health care workers to help parents get the shots.
A study by the National Center for Health Statistics found that about 20 million children under age 6 are unvaccinate.
Murphy’s bill would add $5 million to that total to help pay for the program.
The bill also would require vaccines for people who are allergic to at least one ingredient in a vaccine, and allow states to require that people who have been vaccinated receive additional testing.
A state’s ability to require vaccinations could vary based on the size of the population.
“We know that vaccines are critical for preventing the spread of the virus and preventing the transmission of other serious diseases, like pneumonia, measles and rubella,” Murphy said in a statement.
“This legislation provides additional funding to expand the reach of the existing state-mandated immunization program.
I hope that we will be able to pass this legislation in the coming days.”
The bill is the first to seek to provide vaccine exemptions for parents who are not vaccine-eligible for other reasons, including due to medical conditions.
It is backed by groups including the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Medical Association, the World Health Organization, and the National Vaccine Advisory Committee.
The Senate voted in March to approve Murphy’s measure, which passed the Senate by a vote of 26-15, but the bill is not expected to move to the House for a vote until mid-April.
The American Academy has also said it is exploring ways to expand exemptions for people with preexisting conditions and those with other health conditions.
Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), who sponsored the bill, said that while some people have already received the shots, there are also “millions of Americans who are still being told they are not going to get the shot, that their kids are not getting the shot.”
“We need to make sure the people who need to get a shot are getting a shot,” he said.
“The reason that we have not been able to do this before is because the government doesn’t take this seriously enough,” Cornyn added.
“We need Congress to take this serious, and we need Congress in the House to act on this legislation.”
A vaccine exemption for people whose health conditions make them more vulnerable to getting the vaccine, like someone who is allergic to one ingredient, would be limited to parents who do not have another condition, such as a family history of autism.
The Hill reached out to Murphy’s office for more information about his bill, but did not receive a response at this time.