Senate Committee Votes Down Bill to Limit Vaccination Exemptions in Oklahoma

Feb 26, 2018

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An Oklahoma Senate committee defeated Monday a measure to limit immunization exemptions.

Sen. Ervin Yen’s bill would have allowed kids to skip vaccines only when their life or health would be at risk from getting one. Currently, a parent’s written objection for any reason is enough.

Yen said vaccines are not only the safest medical intervention a person can get, but in many cases they’re also safer than everyday life.

"The chance of being struck by lightning in your lifetime is one in 165,000. The chance of you dying in a plane crash is one in 8,000. The chance of you dying in a car wreck is about one in 300. The chance of a serious reaction to a vaccine is on the order of one to two per million," Yen said.

Yen said those serious reactions are generally previously unknown allergies.

Sen. Joseph Silk said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention calls for too many shots not to let parents opt out.

"They are out of control on shoving 3-month-old children full of vaccinations. I don’t like the schedule," Silk said. "Vaccines do play a very important role; however, forced vaccinations is not what this state is about."

Yen said Oklahoma’s vaccination rates are currently around the levels of California’s when they had a severe measles outbreak in 2015, and the state will see a disease outbreak as a result.

Yen said he won't stop trying to improve vaccination rates, citing three previous bills over the past four years aimed at reducing immunization exemptions.

"And if anti-vaccination people come to my church and put fliers on the cars ... that are derogatory to me, which they did, that will not deter me. And if the anti-vaccination people put pictures of my family on their social media page, that will not deter me," Yen said.

Senate Bill 1123 failed 3–8.