A Department of Health and Human Services employee holds a COVID-19 vaccine record card Nov. 13, 2020, in Washington D.C. (DoD photo by EJ Hersom)
A bill to require Louisiana schools include details on exemptions when sending out written information on vaccine requirements to parents advanced Wednesday in the Legislature.
In Louisiana, vaccine requirements can be easily circumvented for reasons of health, religion or conscience, according to state law. Parents can exempt a child from taking a vaccine in writing or with a physician’s note saying the vaccine is not medically advisable.
“We want to clarify the existing law of the responsibility of schools to accept exemptions,” said Rep. Kathy Edmonston, R-Gonzales and author of the bill. “Currently most parents are not aware that they can opt out of any immunization with a written statement,” she said.
Last session, Edmonston authored a house resolution to accomplish the same goal. It was approved, but resolutions are not binding law.
“Last year, we brought a resolution, thinking that that would be something that would encourage all schools to do what they needed to do as per the law. That didn’t happen,” she told the House Education Committee.
Rep. Beryl Amedee, a committee member who voted in favor of the bill, said many of her constituents have told her their vaccine exemptions aren’t being accepted. This bill “could help resolve all of the many phone calls and emails that I get every year when schools and daycare centers are rejecting these papers that they’re not supposed to reject by law,” Amedee said.
Kaitlyn Joshua, who worked with the state Department of Health’s vaccine campaign, spoke in opposition to the bill because she believes it would decentivize immunizations of students.
The 7-4 vote in committee moved the bill to the full House.
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