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Politics & Government

Sen. Daylin Leach Seeks to End Philosophical Exemption to Vaccines

National Institutes of Health

Vaccines have garnered lots of national attention lately, due largely to a measles outbreak tied to Disneyland and an Illinois day care center.

In particular, more attention is being paid to anti-vaccination groups, those opposed to vaccines for reasons that are not religious or medical in nature. In Pennsylvania a parent can choose to not vaccinate their children claiming a “philosophical exemption,” which Sen. Daylin Leach (D-Montgomery/Delaware) said is too broad.

“And as a result Pennsylvania has the second lowest vaccination rate in the country,” said Leach. “Mississippi, which has no exemptions, has a 99.7 vaccination rate of kindergarteners. In Pennsylvania we’re at 85 percent.”

Leach has introduced a bill that would eliminate the philosophical exemption, but keep intact the religious and medical exemptions. The senator said he knows some are opposed to vaccinating their children, but said that public policy must be rooted in science.

“It can’t be through hunches or superstitions or personal beliefs. It doesn’t work that way,” said Leach. “The overwhelming consensus of the scientific community is that vaccines are necessary to prevent these deadly diseases.”

A bill to do away with the philosophical exemption has also been introduced in the House. Leach’s bill is pending consideration by the Senate Health and Welfare Committee. He said that while the process can take a while, he hopes there will be movement on the bill by spring.