New Illinois bill aims to remove religious exemptions for vaccines in state
Last week the Democrat Heather A. Steans filed a bill in the Illinois State Senate that removes the option for parents to refuse the vaccination of their children on religious grounds. The legislation will also drop most medical exemptions for vaccines required to attend schools in the state.
The new bill will also allow the minors age 14 and older to get a vaccine "regardless of whether the minor's parent or guardian consents."
If the bill passes it will go into effect on July 1, 2022.
"Earlier this month I filed Senate Bill 3668, which takes action to fight infectious disease by increasing the rate of vaccination in Illinois," Steans wrote on Facebook on Thursday. "SB 3668 ends the religious exemption for vaccination in Illinois, strengthens our mechanism for determining medical exemptions, and empowers those aged 14 and up to choose to vaccinate."
The Illinois Vaccine Awareness Coalition, a group which regularly advocates against the use of vaccines, posted a call to oppose the bill on its website.
"Please WITHDRAW SB3668 – this bill is unnecessary and discriminatory," the group wrote as an example of what to say to the bill's sponsor. "Vaccine exemptions are not the problem, schools failing to collect and submit vaccine record paperwork is the problem...Please focus on the serious record keeping issue and don't remove religious and parental rights based on misrepresented immunization levels."
The initial intention of the bill is to increase vaccination rates in the Prairie State "and reduce the risk of severe illness among our most vulnerable populations," Department of Health said.
Currently, only five states in the U.S. do not allow non-medical exemptions for vaccines: New York, California, Mississippi, West Virginia and Maine.