Lawmakers consider bill that would allow for ‘conscientious’ exemption for child vaccines

Updated: Feb. 7, 2020 at 6:18 PM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - New state child vaccinations requirements are about to kick in. But some parents are calling on lawmakers to delay the new rules — or make it easier to exempt children.

Beginning in July, five new vaccines — including for the human papillomavirus — will be required for children to attend school in Hawaii.

State Rep. Gene Ward said the new vaccine requirements go too far.

And vaccine critics agree. They’re urging lawmakers to consider HB2459, which “authorizes conscientious beliefs as a basis for exemption from vaccination requirements.”

Right now, the only allowable exemptions are for religious or medical purposes.

The state Department of Education said if a conscientious objection was all parents needed it may “increase the potential for students to be exposed to serious illness.”

Erin Austin, mother of three, is fighting to have more say in her children’s vaccinations. She believes the autoimmune disorder one of her children developed was linked to a vaccine.

“I never questioned vaccinations and I was vaccinating along the CDC schedule,” said Austin.

Although the House Health Committee passed HB2459 on Thursday, the chairman doubts it will become law.

“I hate to say this and I’m sad the parents will hear this, but I have to be brutally honest, I think its chances of passing is nail to none,” said Rep. John Mizuno. “But I wanted to give them a chance so that’s what we did.”

HB2459 still has to go through two more House committees then the full Senate.

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