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Politics

Lawmakers Consider Changing Vaccination Requirements

Springfield, MO Lawmakers are considering whether the state should give parents more opportunities to object to having their children vaccinated. KSMU's Missy Shelton reports.

Related Link: View the Bill that would allow parents to object to having their childrenvaccinated on philosophical grounds

Republican Senator John Loudon says it was his wife who started doing research about the benefits and risks associated with having children vaccinated.

Loudon says under Missouri law, his wife can't object to having their children vaccinated. So, Loudon is sponsoring a bill that would allow parents to object on philosophical grounds to having their kids vaccinated.

But some doctors say that kind of power to object to vaccinations isn't something the governoment should be giving to parents. Dr. Rob Schaaf has been a family physician for almost 20 years and he's a newly-elected member of the Missouri House of Representative. He says he opposes Loudon's proposal but acknowledges there are risks associated with vaccinations.

But Schaaf says the benefits of vaccinating children outweigh the risks. He offers this analogy to explain why it makes sense to allow only religious and medical exemptions.

While Loudon says he understands the public health issue, he says it's not fair to ask parents to put their child at risk. He says that's why he says parents should have a choice. He says some health professionals have the wrong attitude about requiring mass vaccination.

Schaaf says he understands Loudon's concerns. But he says in this case, it's up to the government, not parents to decide what's best.

The bill that would allow parents to object on philosophical grounds to vaccinations for their children is scheduled for debate on the Senate floor. I'm Missy Shelton for KSMU News.