On March 28th, embattled State Senator Daylin Leach (D-Montgomery/Delaware) announced legislation designed to “increase the number of Pennsylvania school children who are immunized against diseases that spread easily among groups, interrupt school life and threaten public health.”
From Leach’s website:
Pennsylvania law requires that children receive certain vaccinations before they may attend school. However, exemptions from that requirement exist for anyone who has a pre-existing health problem that conflicts with the immunization requirements, a religious objection to vaccines, or a philosophical exemption to vaccines, which is characterized in law as “a strong moral or ethical conviction similar to a religious belief.” Leach’s bill would eliminate the religious exemption and the “philosophical” exemption. Leach’s bill would not affect the medical exemption.
We asked Leach’s spokesperson if this applied to just public schools and received back a message that it applies to “public, private, charter, cyber, and home schools.”
“At the end of the day, our top priority has to be keeping our citizens safe,” Leach said. “And when assessing how to best do that, we have an obligation to respect the scientific consensus and act rationally. All of the science says that vaccines save many lives and stop the spread of easily-preventable but deadly diseases. It would be legislative malpractice not to do all we can to ensure that our children are protected.”
“Some claim that vaccines cause autism, but according to all research and most doctors and scientists, that’s simply not true,” Leach continued. “Vaccines prevent disease. The risks are far greater for your child when you choose not to vaccinate, and not vaccinating puts others at risk too.”
As of March 28th, Leach circulated his proposal to Senate members in the form of a memo. For the next few weeks, Senators will have an option to co-sponsor his proposal. After that process, Leach will introduce the policy’s language, at which time the proposal will be numbered and assigned to a Senate committee for consideration.
Current Pennsylvania law requires immunization for diphtheria, tetanus, poliomyelitis, rubeola, rubella, mumps, hepatitis B, chickenpox, whooping cough, and meningococcal disease.
Leach’s district includes Plymouth Township and West Conshohocken.