Vaccination bill sponsor reacts to bills criticism

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JEFFERSON CITY - A bill in the Missouri House of Representatives could change the way parents are notified about children's vaccinations in Missouri's child care centers. 

House Bill 976 would specify that any private, public, or parochial day care centers, preschools, and nursery schools notify a parent or guardian, upon request, of whether there are children attending who have an immunization exemption on file with the facility. 

The bill has had it's share of criticism however. 

Opponents of the bill said it is overstepping boundaries, violating parents' rights to privacy, and in some cases telling parents how to raise their children. 

The bill is sponsored by House Children and Families Committee Chairman Rep. Diane Franklin (R-Camdenton). 

She said the bill is not asking that kids who are not vaccinated be immunized, nor is it exposing children that are not. Rather, it is providing information that can be used by a parent to help them make their own decisions. 

"It is simply information that goes to a parent that would like to know are there kids who who are not immunized, and they can make a choice from there," Franklin said. 

In terms of a parent's right to privacy, Franklin said identification of a child or family is not necessary, only a yes or no answer as to whether a child in their care is not immunized. Notification is up to the discretion of the child care provider. Notifications could include emails, or even color coded cards that notify a parent of a child present who has not been vaccinated. She said this would help to prevent any one family or child from being singled out. 

Franklin believes many of the early criticism of the bill came from misunderstandings of the bills language. 

"So often things are done in just little sound bites, like there's an immunization bill, and immediately people jump to a conclusion without really reading the entire language of the bill so I would encourage everyone to do that," Franklin said. 

House Bill 976 has moved through both the committee and select committee processes and has been referred back to the House floor, making it eligible for vote.

If enacted, the bill would go into effect August 2015.