Mississippi vaccine exemption bill not coming up for vote

MGN Online

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

Posted: Jan 30, 2018 3:31 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: 61125

Reported Deaths: 1711
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds5269106
DeSoto332627
Madison229756
Harrison215232
Rankin214628
Jackson199434
Jones177457
Forrest164053
Washington149232
Lauderdale132988
Lee123930
Neshoba119788
Lamar112112
Oktibbeha105435
Lowndes98932
Warren96427
Scott95517
Bolivar94832
Copiah91724
Panola91211
Sunflower90822
Lafayette88111
Holmes84747
Leflore84059
Pike83232
Grenada81320
Yazoo78611
Leake76825
Lincoln74540
Pontotoc7377
Wayne73321
Simpson71227
Monroe70250
Coahoma66310
Tate65023
Marion60118
Covington58811
Adams58425
Marshall5718
Winston57115
George5475
Union53113
Newton51611
Attala49824
Tallahatchie49310
Pearl River48536
Walthall45318
Chickasaw43819
Noxubee41910
Claiborne40013
Smith38013
Calhoun3788
Jasper3768
Clay37013
Alcorn3574
Prentiss3426
Hancock33614
Tishomingo3204
Lawrence3135
Tippah31212
Yalobusha31210
Itawamba30710
Clarke30025
Montgomery2933
Tunica2786
Humphreys27111
Carroll24511
Greene22611
Quitman2251
Kemper22315
Perry2227
Amite2105
Jefferson Davis2026
Webster19912
Jefferson1936
Wilkinson18712
Sharkey1801
Stone1523
Choctaw1274
Benton1250
Franklin1162
Issaquena211
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 90890

Reported Deaths: 1611
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson11859225
Mobile9086191
Montgomery6249143
Madison501425
Tuscaloosa397463
Baldwin321023
Shelby305032
Marshall296630
Unassigned273453
Lee250540
Morgan222315
Etowah193026
DeKalb170113
Elmore160237
Calhoun15609
Walker147063
Houston131912
Dallas128823
Russell12331
St. Clair121712
Franklin119620
Limestone119613
Cullman114111
Colbert109312
Lauderdale107112
Autauga102420
Escambia97915
Talladega91813
Jackson8283
Chambers82138
Tallapoosa81478
Dale78520
Butler75235
Blount7363
Chilton7106
Coffee7095
Covington70920
Pike6607
Barbour5635
Lowndes55224
Marion54224
Marengo52014
Clarke4869
Hale45926
Bullock43811
Perry4294
Winston42911
Wilcox4059
Monroe3914
Randolph38810
Bibb3743
Conecuh37310
Pickens3679
Sumter36118
Lawrence3100
Washington31011
Macon30913
Crenshaw2863
Choctaw27412
Henry2453
Cherokee2427
Greene24211
Geneva2320
Clay2175
Lamar1982
Fayette1745
Cleburne1211
Coosa922
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