HARRISBURG, Pa. (WKBN) – As measles cases in the United States reach their highest levels in 25 years, Pennsylvania may consider a law making it harder for doctors to crack down on those who choose to not vaccinate their children.
Flanked by parents and children, Representative Daryl Metcalfe on Tuesday introduced House Bill 286, the Informed Consent Protection Act.
“We live in the United States of America, where you should have the freedom to decide what is injected inside your body or your child’s body,” he said.
The bill would force doctors in Pennsylvania to treat unvaccinated children, limit what they can do to encourage families to get vaccinated and bar them from requiring patients or parents from having to sign a liability waiver if they decline or delay vaccinations.
It comes as more than 700 measles cases are reported in the U.S., the highest this century.
“There’s this huge outbreak of, what, 300 million people in the United States of America? Look at some of the car accident rates and compare that to the number of people contracting measles,” Metcalfe said.
“Measles was virtually eradicated from the United States in the year 2000. But, because of misinformation about vaccines, we’re now seeing this resurgence,” said Dr. Rachel Levine.
Levine is Pennsylvania’s health secretary. She says the measles outbreak could have been prevented with people getting vaccinated and parents following their pediatrician’s vaccination schedule.
“The schedule is really planned out very carefully to be able to provide the right immunization when children need it most,” she said.
Levine says Pennsylvania’s current vaccination rate is around 97%, above the 95% threshold for “herd immunity.” But, she’s concerned that vaccine concerns continue to be spread.
“Immunizations are safe and immunizations are effective,” she said.