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Sponsors of vaccine mandate proposals at Illinois statehouse face opposition

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Monday, March 9, 2020  |  Article  |  By Greg Bishop | The Center Square

Children, Teens (19) , Health (49) , Prescriptions drugs (81) Bailey, Darren--State House, 109 , Gabel, Robyn--State House, 18 , Steans, Heather--State Senate, 7

Several measures at the Illinois statehouse dealing with vaccination requirements face opposition, and the sponsor of one measure said she could modify her proposal.

One measure, House Bill 4870, would require students to get the HPV vaccine before they can go to school. Another proposal to eliminate the religious exemption for vaccine requirements, Senate Bill 3668, could be pared back as discussion continues.

State Rep. Darren Bailey, R-Xenia, said he and others throughout the state have concerns about the vaccine bills.

“When you start interfering with the parents’ right to raise their child as they see fit, you know, I’ve got a big problem with that,” he said.

He specifically mentioned the bill to do away with the religious exemption from vaccine mandates before a child can go to school or college.

While some states have religious, medical and philosophical exemptions, Illinois only has religious and medical exemptions. The sponsor of the bill to get rid of the religious exemption, state Sen. Heather Steans, D-Chicago, said she’s in talks with opponents.

“More informal organizations with people who have vaccination hesitation, talking to some of those groups too, so we’re trying to get a lot of feedback to see what we can do to tighten up things without getting rid of the exemption,” Steans said.

Steans said her efforts were designed to ensure people are getting immunized for public health and safety. Her bill, Senate Bill 3668, has yet to move out of committee.

Bailey also said he was opposed to the bill to require students entering sixth grade to get the HPV vaccine. He said he shared committee members’ contact information with people to get the word about the proposed mandate.

Bill sponsor, state Rep. Robyn Gabel, said she’s heard from opponents.

“Their reasons are not medically based and they are not factual, it’s more scare tactics and other things that they’ve heard that scares them, and I can understand that,” Gabel said.

Gabel said the vaccine is safe and her bill is designed to help eradicate cervical cancer in the state.

Bailey said he understood the importance of working to get rid of cancer, but said people have a problem mandating away parental choice.

“If 1.5 percent of families opt-out as the state figures show, then that would suggest that they would be the only ones really susceptible, everyone else should be OK,” Bailey said.

Gabel’s measure, House Bill 4870, is in the House Appropriations-Human Services Committee that has no immediate hearing date scheduled.

Lawmakers return to the capitol in Springfield on March 18.