The Legislative Tracker Blog is a forum for our local state Senators and Representatives to provide information about the work they are doing in the 2011 Legislative Session which began on Jan. 10, 2011.
Bailey joins governor for signing of child immunization billMay 11th, 2011 at Wed, 11th, 2011 at 11:50 am by scottfrank
10th District lawmaker says measure will lead to better health and safety of children, families and communities
As a prime sponsor of House companion legislation, Rep. Barbara Bailey joined Gov. Chris Gregoire for the signing of Senate Bill 5005 May 10. The 10th District lawmaker believes the child immunization measure will lead to better health and safety for children, families and communities.
“If parents want to refuse immunization for their children, then this bill simply requires them to have a conversation with a health-care provider. The intent is to ensure parents are making informed decisions when it comes to immunization,” said Bailey, R-Oak Harbor. “The ultimate goal is to have a higher rate of immunization and avoid outbreaks of diseases in our communities.”
Under Senate Bill 5005, parents who seek exemption from state law will need to submit proof that a health-care provider has informed them of the risks and benefits of immunization. Parents may sign a form and claim medical, religious or philosophical (personal) reasons in refusing immunization of their children under current law. The box for philosophical (personal) is checked most often by parents. Washington is one of 20 states that allow philosophical (personal) exemptions for parents who are opposed to vaccinating their children.
The percent of students with immunization exemptions in Washington has more than doubled over the last 10 years, and is now three times the national average. Nearly one-third of Washington’s counties surpassed 10 percent exemption rates.
“Nothing in this bill prevents parents from exercising their parental rights. It is clear that parents will continue to make the final decisions about their children when it comes to immunization,” said Bailey, who serves on the House Health Care and Wellness Committee. “I understand and respect those who have objections to immunization. However, there is growing belief that many exemptions are based on convenience. We want to make sure parents are informed.”
Data shows that more exemptions result in more disease outbreaks. Diseases once thought eradicated have shown up in Washington state. In 2008, there were 19 reported cases of measles in Washington – the most recorded in a decade. Seventeen of the 19 cases involved children who had not been immunized.
There were 389 reported cases of whooping cough in Washington state in 2010, up from 265 cases in 2009. Island County had a whooping cough outbreak in the summer of 2008.
The issue has impacted Bailey on a personal level.
“I lost a classmate to polio when I was in school,” said Bailey. “I don’t want to see any family or community lose an infant or child from a disease that can be easily avoided if the proper steps are taken.”
Bailey is the prime sponsor of House Bill 1015, which passed off the House floor on a vote of 75-18 on Feb. 14. The bill was amended onto Senate Bill 5005.
“This was truly a bipartisanship effort,” said Bailey. “It’s a great example of how you don’t always get your bill, but you get the bill.”