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Letter: State measure to ensure parents know about vaccines needs support

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Angela Mattke, Mayo Clinic pediatrician
We are part of The Trust Project.

As a pediatrician and mother, I've witnessed the ravaging effects of highly contagious, vaccine-preventable diseases. So when I hear about parents who decline immunizations for non-medical reasons, I can't help but wonder if they've received accurate information from credible sources.

A bipartisan bill introduced at the state capitol (HF 393/SF 380) could help change that. The bill would ensure parents receive information about recommended vaccines from a medical provider before opting out for non-medical reasons. Currently, parents need only submit a notarized letter.

The purpose of the bill is to curb future outbreaks because of sporadic pockets of unvaccinated children. Parents still could obtain exemptions. However, studies show states with lax exemption processes, such as Minnesota, have lower vaccination rates and higher rates of vaccine-preventable diseases.

This is indeed an issue of parents' rights. Parents should have the right to send their children to daycare or school without inadvertently exposing them to diseases that could be carried to others who are too young or weak to be immunized. Parents should have the right to know all the facts about vaccines, and then make their choice.

But this bill won't get far if parents and voters don't speak up. Contact your legislators and tell them to support this bill — and the health of our community.

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Angela Mattke

Rochester

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