Bill would prohibit discrimination of non-vaccinated children

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JEFFERSON CITY – The controversy surrounding whether parents should vaccinate their kids made its way to the Capitol on Wednesday.

The House Health and Mental Health Policy Committee discussed a bill that would ban discrimination of children who are not immunized at doctor’s offices and schools.

The bill would protect children who may not be immunized due to religious beliefs or medical conditions, from discrimination in public schools, higher education, day care or at a physician’s office.  

The bill's sponsor, Rep. Lynn Morris, R-Nixa said it is important to protect citizens and their beliefs.

“This is just making sure that parents and children do have the rights to not have immunization if they don’t believe in it,” Morris said.

Morris said in his district in southwest Missouri, people say they've been discriminated against because they were not vaccinated.

“Even thought that may be a small group of people, it’s a very important group of people,” Morris said.

Rep. Keith Fredrick, R-Rolla, said some people want to be vaccinated, but can't because of an impaired immune system.

“I think the medical concern is that those who are immunocompromised depend upon herd immunity.” Fredrick said. “Those few individuals that do have immunocompromise and can’t be vaccinated, it makes them more at risk. That’s the thing that has to be balanced on both sides.”

“I don’t really believe it’s controversial,” Morris said. “We have to defend the rights of every individual and there’s a certain group of people, for one reason or another, that do not want their children immunized, and I’m trying to protect their rights.”

No witnesses were there to support or oppose Morris’ bill, and he said it’s because the bill should have been presented earlier in the session.

Morris said the timeline for the bill to pass into law likely won’t happen this year due to it being heard so late in session. He said the bill will be "fine-tuned" next year and hopes it will soon become law.