Health

Hawaii Lawmakers Kill Vaccine Bill

| by Michael Doherty
A smallpox vaccine kit.A smallpox vaccine kit.

Hawaii's state Senate has killed a bill that would have sped up the state's process for adopting federal vaccination guidelines, citing an excess of confusion and misinformation surrounding the bill.

According to ABC News, opponents of the bill raised concerns about mandatory vaccinations and the fear that vaccinations could lead to autism, which has been debunked by science. The bill's supporters argue that faster adoption of federal guidelines would have allowed Hawaii to address public health crises, such as Zika virus, more quickly. In the end, however, Sen. Rosalyn Baker made the announcement that the bill would not be approved.

Baker's decision was unusual because it came before the time that lawmakers normally finalize their decisions regarding bills. Sen. Will Espero, who is on Baker's committee, said that he hadn't ever seen a senator declare a decision that early before.

"Normally she would wait to the end of the agenda, but in this case, she felt that it might be best before we get to the other bill to just share with them that, 'FYI, I hear you, and I've made the decision,'" said Espero.

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Renee Kawelo, a Hawaiian who opposed the bill, spoke out against vaccinations being mandatory. "We want you to have the choice to decide. If you want a vaccine, great. Go vaccinate yourself."

Kawelo added that she didn't want to have her children vaccinated because she was afraid that it could make them sick.

Hawaii is also set to make a decision on a heavily contested bill about HPV vaccinations on Feb. 11, reported Hawaii News Now. If the bill passes, students in seventh grade would be required to receive an HPV vaccination in order to attend school. The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommends that children be vaccinated for HPV at 11 or 12 years old.

Dawn Poiani, mother of three boys, expressed concerns over the vaccination. "I feel like the HPV vaccine has not been on the market long enough to make it a mandate," she said.

Epidemiologist Sarah Park responded to those fears, saying: "It has been a recommended vaccine now for 10 years so if you add those things all together, that's quite a number of years for a lot of study."

The Hawaii state Senate will decide whether or not to move the HPV vaccination bill forward on Feb. 11.

Sources: ABC News, Hawaii News Now / Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

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