HARRISBURG – February 12, 2015 –State Senator Daylin Leach (D-Montgomery/Delaware) today announced legislation designed to increase the number of Pennsylvania school children who are immunized against diseases that spread easily among groups, interrupt school life, and threaten public health.
Leach sent a co-sponsorship memo to his Senate colleagues explaining that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that Pennsylvania has the second lowest vaccination rate in the nation. While Pennsylvania law requires that children receive certain vaccinations before they may attend school, exemptions exist for a pre-existing health issue, a religious objection, or “a strong moral or ethical conviction similar to a religious belief.”
Leach explained that Pennsylvania’s low vaccination rate is due, in part, to the “strong moral or ethical conviction” exemption. His bill would remove this exemption and would not affect the religious exemption or the medical exemption.
Pennsylvania law currently requires immunization for diphtheria, tetanus, poliomyelitis, rubeola, rubella, mumps, hepatitis B, chickenpox, whooping cough, and meningococcal disease.
“Vaccines are safe. The recent outbreak of measles reminds us that vaccines are also absolutely essential to public health. It should be the policy of the Pennsylvania government to encourage the highest possible vaccination rate.”