SALT LAKE CITY – If you opt your child out of school required immunizations, you have to sign an exemption form. Now, a Utah lawmaker wants parents to acknowledge some of the risks behind that decision and is proposing they watch an online educational video as well.
Beth Luthy’s son could not get vaccinated because he had a liver disorder.
“He didn't have much of an immune system left," Luthy said.
She relied on those who could get vaccinated to protect him, a principle known as herd immunity.
“Unfortunately, there was not a healthy herd immunity in our community,” Luthy said. “He caught rotavirus, and we almost lost him. He caught RSV, and we almost lost him. He caught whooping-cough, and we almost lost him. And he caught chicken pox, and we almost lost him.”
With more and more parents opting out of immunizations, the Utah Department of Health says we’re losing herd immunity, which could lead to outbreaks.
“We have 50,000 births, they cannot receive the MMR because they're not of age yet, and those kids could be at risk,” said Rich Lakin, immunization manager at the Utah Department of Health.
Current state law requires only a parent’s signature to claim a personal, medical or religious exemption from a vaccination. Representative Carol Spackman Moss is proposing a bill that would require parents who opt out for personal reasons to view an online educational video every year.
“It will not be to try and force parents to immunize their children,” said Representative Spackman Moss.
Moss will work with Lacey Eden, a nurse practitioner, to produce a 20-minute online video for parents.
“What we want to do is make sure they're reminded about the signs and symptoms of communicable diseases, how to protect their child if there is a disease outbreak, and how to limit spread of infection," she said.
With more education, Beth hopes parents will think twice.
“It's kind of the village raises the child sort of a thing, where we're all trying to protect and take care of each other’s children," she said.
A house committee will decide whether or not to advance this bill at a hearing on Tuesday, February 16th.