I never used to pay attention to politics when I was younger. I knew the basics and recognized who sat in the top government positions, but that was about it. Now, I read and watch everything I can about it. From what’s happening on the state level all the way through to the federal level, I scour the news looking at what my and other representatives across the country are talking about. When vaccines are on the docket, I pay even more attention. What happens in one state, could very well happen in another.
What Is Happening Across the Country?
Things are happening, and in some states, time is of the essence. Take Colorado, for example. On Friday of last week, Colorado’s SB20-163 was voted on. It passed out of the Senate and will now head back to the House. SB20-163 restricts exemptions and forces tracking of vaccinations. It’s also a violation of privacy as the tracking system being proposed is not an opt-in. Worth noting is that tracking system opens the door for in-home visits “so interventions can be applied.” Creating a law that would put the entire population on blast doesn’t protect the people of Colorado but potentially creates a platform to shame its citizens. Data is already available to anyone who may be curious or concerned about vaccine rates and exemption statuses at schools. Plus, vaccination rates are considered high in the state so this bill, like others we’re seeing, is an overreach. One more thing this bill does is force parents, who wish to use an exemption, to either submit a signed document from a medical professional or require them to watch a video about vaccines. The video was created by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, a group that publicly supports SB20-163. Suggested next steps by those in Colorado are for people to continue to show up at the capital, to contact Governor Polis and ask him to veto the bill, and to call and email representatives urging them to vote no.
Three concerning bills were filed by early January in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Each was considered a “bad” bill by those wishing to preserve liberty. They were being carefully watch by families who’ve witnessed a vaccine injury also. The first two bills didn’t make it too far, but the third one has moved rather quickly through several committees. HB1090 isn’t just a bad bill; it’s a terrible bill. Instead of the Commonwealth having a say in which vaccines would be required for school entry, it hands that authority over to a federal group, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP). Children attending daycares and schools in Virginia would have to follow current and all future ACIP recommendations, no questions asked. Parents are already given a hard time as they try to make informed decisions regarding vaccines, but they will never be given the opportunity to make a choice if this bill passes. That decision will be made for them. Citizens should call their representatives about HB1090 and urge their reps to vote no. It’ll likely be heard on Monday, so March 2nd is the day to show up at the capital. This bill needs to be killed before the legislative session adjourns at the end of the week.
On March 3rd, the people of Maine will get a chance to overturn LD 798. Signed into law by Gov. Janet Mills, this bill removed religious and philosophical exemptions. It also effectively blocked both children and adults from entering schools, to include daycares and universities, unless students follow the state vaccine schedule. LD 798 also prohibits adults from working in both daycares and in healthcare services unless they, too, follow the state-mandated vaccine schedule. This week, Mainers will get the opportunity to overturn LD 798 thanks to the efforts of citizens who worked to secure a veto ballot referendum, which will be listed as Question 1 on the ballot. Those who wish to reinstate the exemptions and to once again be able to access education without having to adhere to mandates are encouraged to vote.
Illinois has not one but two bills to watch. The first one, SB3688, would remove the religious exemption, and the other, HB 4870, mandates vaccines. HB 4870 is one of the most aggressive bills regarding the HPV vaccine in that it would require all students in public, private, or parochial schools to receive the complete HPV vaccine series before they begin 9th grade. The series is recommended for both boys and girls, and depending on when the vaccine is administered, it is either 2 or 3 doses. For those opposed to this bill, there is still a chance to submit a witness slip ahead of this week’s committee meeting, which is scheduled for March 4th. As of this writing, 175 slips in favor of the bill have been filed. Over 8,200 witness slips have been filed against HB 4870.
Is There Any Good News Out There?
HB 2050 in Arizona, sponsored by State Representative John Fillmore, “would strengthen parental rights to make vaccination decisions and push back against any future federal vaccine mandates.” Other legislators in other states are ready to hand our children and their care over to the government, so it’s refreshing to see legislation like this. On the one hand, parents shouldn’t have to fight for what is already theirs – their rights. But it’s encouraging to have one representative willing to preserve them. I’ll definitely be watching HB 2050 and hope that more states follow suit. The bill’s full text, with some recent amendments, can be followed on Arizona’s LegiScan page.
Other representatives, like in South Dakota, made a valiant effort to introduce a bill that had many of us cheering. Unfortunately, the bill that could have eliminated mandates was killed in committee. It’s too bad, because the HB 1235’s sponsors understood and valued that “Every person has the inalienable right to bodily integrity, free from any threat or compulsion that the person accepts any medical intervention, including immunization. No person may be discriminated against for refusal to accept an unwanted medical intervention, including immunization.” I pray that they reintroduce similar legislation again soon.
As parents, we juggle a lot. Our kids and our families are our top priority. Politics, especially during our state’s legislative session, should be also. If your state has introduced or is getting ready to vote on a vaccine bill, stay on top of it. Some of them are good, and we’d love to help you support them. But others, like the bills listed in that first section above, can cause damage – and not just physically. They can destroy any glimmer of hope and whatever little bit of trust a faithful citizen may have once had in the system.
Cathy Jameson is a Contributing Editor for Age of Autism.