BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD ) — The debate over vaccine mandates and parents getting to decide their children’s vaccines continues to be debated in the legislature. A number of bills advanced in the House Tuesday.
A number of bills revolved around parents being concerned that their own personal choices are not being fairly heard by schools when it comes to vaccinations and medical procedures. Many of the bills born out of this session come from a place of concern for future mandates or requirements.
HCR1 by Rep. Barry Ivey would make schools get approval from the state health officer to remove unvaccinated kids from class in the case of an outbreak. His reasoning behind bringing it is to make it a medical decision and not an administrative one.
“The politics associated potentially with a request coming from a school administrator to the state health officer is, in my opinion, very different from the state health officer having to on his own just by himself and issues such an order,” Rep. Ivey said.
Two bills by Rep. Beryl Amedee looked to limit the offering of vaccinations or recommendations to get vaccinated at schools. One bill, HB428, would prevent educators from offering any kind of medical advice or suggestions to kids – specifically the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education.
“There already is a law that requires schools to accept a written dissent from parents for vaccinations. The cause of action belongs to the parent if a parent has been refused,” said Joan Hunt, executive counsel for the Department of Education.
That bill is being held to work out some amendments – and will be brought back later.
Another one of her bills, HB427, would have banned vaccines from being given at school outside of health clinics. But the rural members of the board said not every school has a health clinic and the vaccine drives make it easier for parents who don’t have time to take their kids to the doctor to get a vaccine.
“Our major concern is that individuals have access to vaccines. We understand parental consent when it comes to school-age children and adolescents,” said Raegan Carter, director of health policy and governmental affairs for the Louisiana Primary Case Association. “We absolutely support parental consent. But limiting access to the vaccines, of course, would be a concern for public health.”
The bill was amended to ensure parental approval is verified twice before a shot is given at a school or sponsored event.
There are several other vaccine-related bills working through the legislature. There have not been any that have made it to the governor’s desk just yet with only three weeks remaining in the session.