Mississippi vaccine exemption bill not coming up for vote

(Craig Ford)

Mississippi lawmakers will not vote this year on creating a religious exemption to Mississippi's vaccination requirements, a committee chairman says.

Posted: Jan 29, 2018 7:27 PM

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Mississippi lawmakers will not vote this year on creating a religious exemption to Mississippi's vaccination requirements, a committee chairman says.

House Judiciary B Committee Chairman Andy Gipson made the announcement about House Bill 1505 on Monday, after supporters of the exemption spent the weekend calling and leaving messages for lawmakers. Tuesday is the first major deadline of the three-month legislative session.

Gipson, a Republican from Braxton, said House Speaker Philip Gunn will appoint a study committee. Gipson said he believes the group will propose legislation that could be considered in 2019, but it is possible the Health Department could resolve critics' concerns by setting new rules about vaccination exemptions.

The delay pushes a contentious issue into a state election year, when all state House and Senate seats will be on the ballot and most current lawmakers are expected to be running again.

During a meeting last week, Judiciary B Committee members heard from parents who said Mississippi requires too many vaccinations before children can go to daycare or attend public or private school. Some said they are home schooling their children because of concerns about vaccines that were cultivated in cell lines obtained from fetuses aborted in the 1960s.

Mississippi has long had one of the highest child vaccination rates in the country. Gipson said Mississippi, California and West Virginia are the only states without a religious exemption.

"The unavailability of any religious exemption in Mississippi is troubling to many parents, myself included," Gipson said Monday.

He cited, in particular, the fact that some vaccines are cultivated in cell lines originally obtained from fetuses aborted decades ago. Many churches that oppose abortion say it's acceptable for believers to receive those vaccines anyway.

Gipson said the study committee would focus on whether there should be a religious exemption and on how Mississippi's current medical exemption works. Some opponents of the current law complain that district health officers, who decide on medical exemptions, don't act uniformly.

The state health officer, Dr. Mary Currier, told the Judiciary B Committee on Wednesday that viruses used in some vaccines are grown on tissue that originated from abortions in the 1960s.

"Nobody likes that. I don't like that," Currier said. "I sincerely hope that the companies that make these vaccines are working on that issue, to provide vaccines that are not from these tissues."

Currier opposes weakening Mississippi's vaccine law, saying, for example, that measles "is not a benign disease." In the U.S., about 1 in every 20 children who contracts measles will develop pneumonia, she said.

"We've been very lucky here in Mississippi" to not have a measles outbreak, Currier said, attributing that to the state's high vaccination rate.

During the committee meeting Wednesday, some people seeking broader exemptions in the vaccine law said their children or grandchildren developed problems after vaccinations.

Dr. Scott Guidry, who is a surgeon in Hattiesburg, and his wife, Mary Jane Guidry, who is a nurse, said their son had brain damage 24 years ago and they attribute it to vaccinations. Mary Jane Guidry said the state should not be able to control what is injected into children's bodies.

"No one should have the power to ruin your life simply because they think it's going to make someone else's better," Mary Jane Guidry said.

Life-threatening reactions to vaccines are rare, Currier said: "People who are vaccinated are not any more likely to have autism than people who are not vaccinated."

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 16769

Reported Deaths: 803
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds110426
Madison77829
Lauderdale76569
Neshoba73945
Jones70933
Scott66312
Forrest60039
DeSoto59310
Rankin4639
Leake45512
Holmes44431
Copiah3344
Jackson31415
Attala31218
Yazoo2985
Newton2924
Oktibbeha28314
Leflore28238
Lincoln28131
Wayne2803
Monroe26925
Harrison2687
Lamar2525
Lowndes2529
Pearl River21231
Pike20411
Adams20416
Warren19910
Washington1998
Lee1978
Noxubee1956
Covington1832
Bolivar16911
Jasper1684
Clarke15619
Smith15611
Lafayette1564
Kemper15611
Chickasaw14314
Coahoma1324
Clay1254
Winston1241
Carroll11911
Marion1169
Claiborne1165
Yalobusha1116
Grenada1104
Lawrence1071
Simpson1050
Sunflower963
Tate931
Hancock9012
Marshall893
Union897
Itawamba897
Webster885
Panola873
Wilkinson859
Montgomery841
Jefferson Davis823
Tippah7611
Calhoun684
Walthall670
Amite651
Humphreys647
Tunica583
Prentiss533
Choctaw522
Perry513
Pontotoc493
Jefferson421
Tishomingo360
Stone320
Quitman320
Tallahatchie311
Greene301
George302
Franklin292
Alcorn191
Benton140
Sharkey70
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 19387

Reported Deaths: 676
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Mobile2341123
Jefferson1927105
Montgomery190544
Tuscaloosa85316
Marshall7149
Franklin5939
Lee56334
Shelby53619
Tallapoosa43566
Butler43121
Walker3973
Elmore38110
Chambers36326
Madison3594
Unassigned3144
Morgan3141
Baldwin2969
Dallas2963
Lowndes26912
Etowah26512
DeKalb2603
Autauga2485
Coffee2401
Sumter2369
Houston2275
Pike2231
Bullock2197
Colbert1972
Hale19210
Russell1870
Barbour1831
Marengo1796
Lauderdale1752
Calhoun1693
Cullman1631
Wilcox1587
Choctaw15310
Clarke1492
St. Clair1372
Randolph1288
Dale1250
Marion12511
Talladega1215
Pickens1215
Limestone1100
Chilton1081
Greene955
Macon944
Winston920
Jackson863
Henry842
Covington831
Crenshaw803
Escambia793
Bibb761
Washington746
Blount641
Lawrence510
Monroe492
Geneva450
Perry430
Conecuh421
Coosa401
Cherokee383
Clay282
Lamar280
Fayette160
Cleburne151
Tupelo
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