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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.

Cases: 312608

Reported Deaths: 7221
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto21429257
Hinds20256414
Harrison17776308
Rankin13539278
Jackson13395246
Madison10051217
Lee9956173
Jones8364163
Forrest7633152
Lauderdale7215240
Lowndes6359144
Lamar620286
Lafayette6162118
Washington5320133
Bolivar4796132
Oktibbeha460398
Panola4545104
Pearl River4495145
Marshall4387103
Warren4368120
Pontotoc419372
Monroe4089133
Union408776
Neshoba4028176
Lincoln3939110
Hancock376686
Leflore3484125
Sunflower335290
Tate331684
Pike3290105
Scott314873
Alcorn310768
Yazoo310269
Itawamba299377
Copiah295865
Coahoma293979
Simpson293788
Tippah287268
Prentiss278560
Marion268680
Leake264973
Wayne262241
Grenada259985
Adams259882
Covington256281
Newton246961
George246748
Winston226981
Tishomingo225067
Jasper220748
Attala214273
Chickasaw207057
Holmes188672
Clay184654
Stone181433
Clarke178179
Tallahatchie177840
Calhoun169532
Yalobusha162936
Smith162034
Walthall133745
Greene130233
Lawrence128223
Noxubee126834
Montgomery126742
Perry126038
Amite123442
Carroll121628
Webster114532
Jefferson Davis106932
Tunica104626
Claiborne102130
Benton99025
Humphreys96133
Kemper95628
Franklin83323
Quitman79616
Choctaw75818
Wilkinson66830
Jefferson65428
Sharkey50217
Issaquena1686
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 528784

Reported Deaths: 10913
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson762251516
Mobile40864804
Madison34569501
Tuscaloosa25646451
Montgomery24264585
Shelby23355246
Baldwin20993306
Lee15800168
Calhoun14457312
Morgan14250279
Etowah13796352
Marshall12166222
Houston10506280
Elmore10017205
Limestone9935150
Cullman9617193
St. Clair9584237
Lauderdale9397238
DeKalb8813185
Talladega8183175
Walker7205279
Autauga6910107
Jackson6793110
Blount6621135
Colbert6282134
Coffee5491115
Dale4810111
Russell437938
Chilton4244111
Franklin423882
Covington4105117
Tallapoosa4004150
Escambia392675
Chambers3545123
Dallas3536150
Clarke350360
Marion3092100
Pike309177
Lawrence299698
Winston273572
Bibb259763
Marengo248564
Geneva247075
Pickens233559
Barbour230256
Hale221776
Butler215469
Fayette211962
Henry188544
Cherokee183845
Randolph179241
Monroe176240
Washington166839
Macon158649
Clay153356
Crenshaw151657
Cleburne148341
Lamar141234
Lowndes138453
Wilcox126528
Bullock122941
Conecuh110028
Perry107526
Coosa106828
Sumter104132
Greene92234
Choctaw60324
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