A state lawmaker wants to make it illegal for Oklahoma parents to refuse vaccinations for their children on religious grounds.
Sen. Ervin Yen, R-Oklahoma, has said he will file a bill in the next legislative session to remove philosophical and religious exemptions for vaccinations for children who attend public schools in Oklahoma. Several states have similar exemption laws.
Yen, a doctor, is worried about the rising number of parents who don’t get their children vaccinated because of health concerns. He claims that trend has led to problems around the country.
The proposed law would apply to students at public and private schools but not to home schooled children.
The Oklahoma Health Department reports that a little more than 1 percent of kindergarten students (about 500 statewide) were not vaccinated because of the religious convictions of their parents.
John Michener of OKPAC (Oklahoma Conservative Political Action Committee) wrote in an e-mail that pharmaceutical companies may be fueling this debate.
“How is money driving the debate?” Michener asked. “How is big-pharmaceutical influencing doctors and politicians? Why is government involved? Is the science sound? Which experts are really experts, and which are quacks?”
Michener sees four major objections to the proposed ban on exemptions.
- A mandatory vaccine program violates individual liberty. People should have control over their own bodies.
- “A mandatory vaccine program is fascist,” he wrote. “It is an unholy alliance between government and the health care industry, specifically a partnership with pharmaceutical companies, medical doctors, and the media.”
- “A mandatory vaccine program assumes the superiority of central planning,” he wrote. “…Because so many vaccines are government mandated, supply, demand, prices and even appropriateness of vaccines have all been artificially skewed by government.”
- He wrote that mandatory vaccine programs help to concentrate political power. “Mandatory vaccines would also create yet another strong precedent for more collectivism,” Michener wrote. “If we begin to believe that the collective is more important than the individual, then freedom is frittered away. Mandatory vaccines are just one more way to brainwash you that your loyalty, gratitude, devotion and worship belong to government, not God.”