HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – As measles cases in the United States reach their highest levels in 25 years, a Pennsylvania state lawmaker is introducing legislation that would make it harder to crack down on parents who choose not to vaccinate their children.
Rep. Daryl Metcalfe (R-Butler) on Tuesday introduced House Bill 286, also known as the Informed Consent Protection Act.
The bill would require Pennsylvania doctors to treat unvaccinated children, limit what they can do to encourage vaccines, and bar them from requiring patients, parents or guardians from having to sign a liability waiver if they decline or delay vaccinations.
“We live in the United States of America where you should have the freedom to decide what is injected inside your body or your child’s body,” Metcalfe said. “It’s a parent’s right to make that decision for their child. Our children do not belong to the state. This is not communist Russia. This is the United States of America.”
Currently, Pennsylvania’s vaccination rate for measles is above the 95% threshold for “herd immunity.”
“Immunizations are safe, and immunizations are effective,” Pennsylvania Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine said. “Measles were virtually eradicated from the United States in the year 2000, but because of misinformation about vaccines, they’re now seeing this resurgence.”
Rep. Dan Frankel, the Democratic chair of the House Health Committee, called the bill irresponsible.
“I implore Representative Metcalfe to reconsider his position, especially in the face of the ongoing measles outbreaks across our nation,” Frankel said in a statement. “These easily preventable diseases should be in history books, not in hospitals’ emergency rooms.”
Frankel says he plans to introduce legislation that would require parents seeking a religious or philosophical exemption to get an annual medical consultation to understand the threat of not being vaccinated.