House and Senate negotiators have reached agreement on a compromise bill dealing with the state’s mandatory childhood immunization law, but there are a number of people on both sides of the debate who aren’t pleased with the compromise.
Currently there are three exemptions to the state’s mandatory childhood immunization law; for health reasons, for religious reasons and for philosophical concerns and most of the legislative debate focused on this third exemption.
By a wide margin, the Senate voted to eliminate it in an effort to boost vaccination rates across the state. However the House rejected this approach and instead backed a proposal to expand public education efforts.
The final compromise keeps the education plan and it keeps the philosophical exemption unless the statewide vaccination rate drops below 90 percent. If that happens, the exemption is eliminated for at least three-year period.
Jericho Rep. George Till wanted to eliminate the exemption completely and he said the 90 percent trigger has limited value.
"So if you happen to live in a town where your school has a much lower vaccination rate than 90 percent and your kids therefore are at increased risk, this does nothing to help them."
Jennifer Stella is the co leader of the Vermont Coalition for Vaccine Choice. She says the state’s current law works just fine and she opposes the new 90 percent trigger.
"This trigger if you will basically says you can keep those rights as long as not more than 10 percent of you use them," said Stella. "But after that the right goes away and it’s not really a right anymore it’s conditioned upon this arbitrary cut off that most people are very upset about."
The compromise will now be presented to both the full House and Senate for their consideration.