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Introduced Version House Bill 2998 History

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H. B. 2998

 

         (By Delegates J. Miller, Cowles and Householder)

         [Introduced February 3, 2011; referred to the

Committee on Health and Human Resources then the Judiciary.]

 

 

 

A BILL to amend and reenact §16-3-4 of the Code of West Virginia, 1931, as amended, relating to providing medical and nonmedical exemptions from mandatory immunizations for school children; requiring parental or guardian affidavit of conscientious or religious belief; requiring parents and guardians to assert their beliefs in an affidavit and to present an affidavit affirming that they have completed an educational course regarding the risks and benefits of immunizations; providing that the affidavit be provided before the exemption may apply; providing rule-making authority to the Commissioner of the Bureau for Public Health; and providing that the Legislature has the sole authority to add or delete required vaccinations or exemptions for school attendance.

Be it enacted by the Legislature of West Virginia:

    That §16-3-4 of the Code of West Virginia, 1931, as amended, -be amended and reenacted to read as follows:

ARTICLE 3. PREVENTION AND CONTROL OF COMMUNICABLE AND OTHER INFECTIOUS DISEASES.

§16-3-4. Compulsory immunization of school children; information disseminated; offenses; penalties.

    Whenever a resident birth occurs, the state director of health shall promptly provide parents of the newborn child with information on immunizations mandated by this state or required for admission to a public school in this state.

    All children entering school for the first time in this state shall have been immunized against diphtheria, polio, rubeola, rubella, tetanus and whooping cough. Any person who cannot give satisfactory proof of having been immunized previously or a certificate from a reputable physician showing that an immunization for any or all diphtheria, polio, rubeola, rubella, tetanus and whooping cough is impossible or improper or sufficient reason why any or all immunizations should not be done, shall be immunized for diphtheria, polio, rubeola, rubella, tetanus and whooping cough prior to being admitted in any of the schools in the state. No child or person shall be admitted or received in any of the schools of the state until he or she has been immunized as hereinafter provided or produces a certificate from a reputable physician showing that an immunization for diphtheria, polio, rubeola, rubella, tetanus and whooping cough has been done or is impossible or improper or other sufficient reason why such immunizations have not been done. Any teacher having information concerning any person who attempts to enter school for the first time without having been immunized against diphtheria, polio, rubeola, rubella, tetanus and whooping cough shall report the names of all such persons to the county health officer. It shall be the duty of the health officer in counties having a full-time health officer to see that such persons are immunized before entering school: Provided, That persons enrolling from schools outside of the state may be provisionally enrolled under minimum criteria established by the director of the department of health so that the person's immunization may be completed while missing a minimum amount of school: Provided, however, That no person shall be allowed to enter school without at least one dose of each required vaccine.

    In counties where there is no full-time health officer or district health officer, the county commission or municipal council shall appoint competent physicians to do the immunizations and fix their compensation. County health departments shall furnish the biologicals for this immunization free of charge.

    Health officers and physicians who shall do this immunization work shall give to all persons and children a certificate free of charge showing that they have been immunized against diphtheria, polio, rubeola, rubella, tetanus and whooping cough, or he or she may give the certificate to any person or child whom he or she knows to have been immunized against diphtheria, polio, rubeola, rubella, tetanus and whooping cough. If any physician shall give any person a false certificate of immunization against diphtheria, polio, rubeola, rubella, tetanus and whooping cough, he or she shall be guilty of a misdemeanor, and, upon conviction, shall be fined not less than twenty-five nor more than one hundred dollars.

    Any parent or guardian who refuses to permit his or her child to be immunized against diphtheria, polio, rubeola, rubella, tetanus and whooping cough, who cannot give satisfactory proof that the child or person has been immunized against diphtheria, polio, rubeola, rubella, tetanus and whooping cough previously, or a certificate from a reputable physician showing that immunization for any or all is impossible or improper, or sufficient reason why any or all immunizations should not be done, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and, except as herein otherwise provided, shall, upon conviction, be punished by a fine of not less than ten nor more than fifty dollars for each offense.

    (a) When a resident birth occurs, the Commissioner of the Bureau for Public Health shall promptly provide parents of the newborn child with information on immunizations, including those mandated by this state for admission to a school in this state.

    (b) All children entering school in this state must be age appropriately immunized against diphtheria, polio, rubeola, rubella, tetanus and whooping cough. Any person who cannot give satisfactory proof of having been immunized previously or who does not have a current certificate of exemption shall be immunized for diphtheria, polio, rubeola, rubella, tetanus and whooping cough prior to being admitted to the schools of this state. Satisfactory proof of immunization shall be provided to the school in the form of the certificate of immunization. The certificate of immunization shall be developed by the Commissioner of the Bureau for Public Health’s immunization program. Beginning July 1, 2011, the certificate of immunization shall be made available to health care providers and school systems to document the immunization records of school children. A parent or guardian may be exempt as follows:

    (1) Medical exemption. -- A parent or guardian of a child entering the schools of this state for the first time may request a medical exemption from a required vaccination for his or her minor child if the parent or guardian of the child or ward presents a certificate signed by a physician who is duly registered and licensed to practice medicine in the United States which sets forth the opinion and the basis of the opinion of the physician examining the child or ward that immunization of the child or ward is medically impossible or improper for any or all of the following diseases including diphtheria, polio, rubeola, rubella, tetanus, whooping cough, or, because of another compelling medical reason immunization of the child or ward for any or all of the following diseases including diphtheria, polio, rubeola, rubella, tetanus, whooping cough and any other disease requiring vaccination as established by rule by the Commissioner of the Bureau for Public Health should not be required for public school attendance; and

    (2) Nonmedical exemption. -- A parent or guardian with a strongly held conscientious or religious belief that his or her minor child or ward should not be subject to a required immunization as provided in this section, may seek an exemption from any or all required vaccinations for his or her minor child entering the schools of this state for the first time as follows:

    (A) The parent or guardian signs a statement on a form provided by the Commissioner of the Bureau for Public Health which includes a list of required immunizations to allow a parent or guardian to request an exemption for his or her child from any or all of the required immunizations. In the statement, the parent or guardian shall state the conscientious or religious belief and shall indicate the specific vaccines for which an exemption is being requested;

    (B) The parent or guardian reads written materials prepared by the Commissioner of the Bureau for Public Health, not to exceed thirty pages, explaining the nature of the risks of the failure to vaccinate a child and the benefits of each vaccine for which a child shall be exempt. After reading the written materials, the parent or guardian shall, by his or her signature on the materials, indicate he or she has read and understood the materials.    (C) General requirement for exemptions. -- A parent or guardian shall provide a copy of the physicians certificate or parent statement of religious or conscientious beliefs to a public health officer, designated for that purpose by the Commissioner of the Bureau for Public Health. If the physician’s certificate or parental statement is proper, he or she shall forthwith transmit a copy to the principal of the school in which the child is enrolled or seeks enrollment. If he or she refuses to transmit a copy to the principal because the certificate or statement is not proper, he or she shall provide the parent or guardian with a written statement specifying the deficiencies, and provide the parents an opportunity to resubmit the certificate or statement. If he or she rejects the certificate or statement again, the parents may seek review through the Commissioner of the Bureau for Public Health.

    (3) The Commissioner of the Bureau for Public Health or his or her designated public health officer may temporarily suspend an exemption for a student who is not immunized and exclude the student from attending school during an outbreak or health emergency. The student may not return or be admitted to school until the outbreak or health emergency has been resolved and the Commissioner of the Bureau for Public Health or his or her designee approves the return or admittance to school. When a public health emergency has been declared relating to a communicable disease, citizens identified as being infected with the declared disease may be subjected to humane quarantine using the least restrictive means possible, in order to prevent the spreading of disease. Additionally, quarantine and isolation must be by the least restrictive means necessary to prevent the spread of a communicable disease to others and may include, but is not limited to, confinement to private homes. No child or person may be admitted or received in any of the schools of the state, except as otherwise provided in this section, until he or she has been immunized.

    Any teacher, school nurse or other school official having information concerning any person who attempts to enter school without having been immunized against diphtheria, polio, rubeola, rubella, tetanus and whooping cough shall report the name of the person to the Commissioner of the Bureau for Public Health. The Commissioner of the Bureau for Public Health shall report the name of the person to the designated public health officer. It is the duty of the Commissioner of the Bureau for Public Health or his or her designated public health officer to see that persons are immunized before entering school or are exempt.

    (c) Health officers and health care providers providing immunizations shall give to all persons and children a certificate free of charge showing that they have been immunized against diphtheria, polio, rubeola, rubella, tetanus and whooping cough. Health officers and health care providers may give the certificate to any person or child whom he or she knows to have been immunized against diphtheria, polio, rubeola, rubella, tetanus and whooping cough.

    (d) The Commissioner of the Bureau for Public Health shall propose rules for legislative approval in accordance with the provisions of article three, chapter twenty-nine-a of this code, to implement the provisions of this section, addressing the issue of school transfers, reporting requirements for each county related to the exemptions and the membership of the immunization advisory committee as provided in section five of this article: Provided, That any additions or deletions of required vaccinations or exemptions shall be the sole authority of the Legislature.




    NOTE: The purpose of this bill is to provide medical and nonmedical exemptions from mandatory immunizations for school children; require parental or guardian affidavit of conscientious or religious belief; require parents and guardians to assert their beliefs in an affidavit and to present an affidavit affirming that they have completed an educational course regarding the risks and benefits of immunizations; provide that the affidavit be provided before the exemption may apply; provide rule-making authority to the Commissioner of the Bureau for Public Health; and provide that the Legislature has the sole authority to add or delete required vaccinations or exemptions for school attendance.


    Strike-throughs indicate language that would be stricken from the present law, and underscoring indicates new language that would be added.

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