Issue: Anti-vaccination bill tone deaf to current health crisis


Editorial Board

In the midst of a global pandemic, where emphasis on the healthcare profession is more important than ever, a legislator in Pierre is pushing to add exemptions for vaccinations. 

House Bill 1097 is titled “An Act to provide for philosophical exceptions to required vaccinations.” The bill, if it would become law, allows individuals to opt out of vaccination requirements in educational setting. The bill is sponsored by Rep. Tom Pischke and Rep. Phil Jenson. 

The bill does not directly correlate with COVID-19, but a pandemic is not an appropriate time to discourage public health protections. 

“60% of Americans say they would definitely or probably get a vaccine for the coronavirus, if one were available today,” according to Pew Research Center in a December survey. Although, half of those who said they would not or probably not get the vaccination said they would be open to it as more research is released. 

While the vaccination for COVID-19 is not required for attending school, this does highlight the public trust in the medical community. 

State law currently requires vaccinations for measles, rubella and mumps to enter a public or private postsecondary educational institution with possible exemptions for health concerns and religious beliefs. 

A more aggressive anti-vaccination bill was brought during the 2020 legislative session. Last year’s HB 1235 removed all vaccination requirements for educational institutions.

Of the 12 house legislators that sponsored the 2020 bill, only five remain in the legislature. Four of the republican sponsors were defeated in the primary election, and the sole democrat sponsor lost in the general election with one additional sponsor not running for reelection. 

Not all of the five remaining legislators have sponsored this year’s edition of the anti-vaccination legislation; in fact, only HB 1097’s prime sponsor, Pischke, decided to revive the concept. 

Regardless of potential political consequences, this is bad legislation. The pile of studies that favor the safety and necessity of vaccinations far outweigh anything that could cast any doubt on vaccinations. 

Arguments of the potential side effects of a vaccination, such as arm soreness, sound much better than an intubation tube. 

The Collegian Editorial Board meets weekly and agrees on the issue of the editorial. The editorial represents the opinion of The Collegian.