Require a doctor's note for religious vaccine exemption?

  • Lawmakers moved two plans Thursday to try to make Illinois vaccine laws more strict.

    Lawmakers moved two plans Thursday to try to make Illinois vaccine laws more strict. Associated Press File Photo

Updated 4/24/2015 6:06 AM

State lawmakers Thursday clashed over the religious exemption that lets children attend school without typically required vaccinations.

And the Illinois Senate advanced a proposal that requires many day care workers to be vaccinated before working with children. Both proposals come up weeks after the outbreak of measles at a Palatine KinderCare earlier this year.


First, the Senate advanced a plan that would require parents who want to avoid vaccinations for religious reasons to get a form signed by a doctor that says the doctor "provided education to the parent or legal guardian on the benefits of immunization and the health risks to the student and to the community" of the relevant diseases.

It was approved by a 42-14 vote. Some Republicans opposed the proposal, arguing it infringes on the rights of parents.

"It seems to me this is one more example where we here in Springfield, legislators, are saying, 'We know better what is good for children than the parents of those children do,'" state Sen. Jim Oberweis, a Sugar Grove Republican, said.

Supporters prevailed, though, arguing vaccines are important for overall public health.

"The purpose of immunization is not simply to protect one's own children, but to protect all of society from the spread of communicable and dangerous diseases," state Sen. Daniel Biss, an Evanston Democrat, said.

The Palatine children who caught measles were too young to get a vaccination, but the more than dozen suburban cases prompted a bigger statewide debate about immunizations.

Senate Republican Leader Christine Radogno, a Lemont Republican, won Senate approval for a proposal that requires day care workers who teach children 6 years old and younger must be vaccinated against measles, mumps, rubella, tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis.

That plan was approved by a 52-2 vote, and both proposals now move to the Illinois House.

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