Minnesota Lawmaker Seeks Additional Step from Parents in 'Opt-Out' Vaccination Provision

December 26, 2017 10:28 PM

After two measles outbreaks in the past seven years, a Minnesota state lawmaker wants parents to take one more step before they are allowed to opt out of the state's childhood immunization schedule.

Rep. Mike Freiberg, DFL-Golden Valley, said he does not want to "eliminate the state's opt-out provision" for parents who do not want their children immunized, but he does think requiring more education before they do so is good policy.


RELATED: Measles Outbreak a Lesson for Minnesota School Leaders

"My bill will not restrict parental choice at all, but rather require parents to see a licensed physician who presents the potential risks for not vaccinating their children based on research from the Centers for Disease Control," Frieberg said. "And if parents then choose to not participate in the vaccination schedule, they have done so with the information they need."

Freiberg said the measles outbreak this past summer, which the Minnesota Department of Health says affected 79 people, has raised the issue to a new level, and that it's time for lawmakers to discuss ways to ensure it doesn't happen again.

"The summer outbreak gives us an opportunity to take a look at things, and I think just make sure people have the knowledge and information that will help them make a good choice," he said. "And I think it preserves parental choice, but includes a visit to the doctor beforehand."

The state Department of Health tracked the impact of the 2017 measles outbreak. Here's what it found:

  • 8,000 exposed
  • 500 told to stay home from work/school/day care
  • $1.3 million to contain outbreak

But there are critics of strict vaccination rules and laws, such as Mark Blaxill, who see them as another step toward eliminating parental choice under the guise of education.

"What really happened with the measles outbreak in Minnesota in 2017? Nothing happened, really, because no one was ever listed in critical condition and no one died," Blaxill said. "But it was treated as if it were a major health issue when it really was just 79 kids who got sick."

RELATED: Health Officials Say Measles Outbreak is Over

Blaxill coauthored the 2017 book, "DENIAL: How Refusing to Face the Facts About Our Autism Epidemic Hurts Children, Families and Our Future." He contends any plan to "educate before exclusion" in the vaccination schedule of children is a backdoor approach toward parental consent.

"They can call it an education program to talk with a doctor before being allowed to opt out of the vaccination program, but what it really is is a way to pressure parents with propaganda and scare the crap out of them so they feel like they have to vaccinate their kids," he said. "And it is not about the education part of it at all."


Jay Kolls

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