A bill introduced in the Nevada Assembly aims to help school districts and health authorities better track which schoolchildren have opted out of vaccines by their parents.
AB123, sponsored by Democratic Assemblywoman Connie Munk, was introduced on Monday. It requires parents who claim a religious or health-related exemption for forgoing a vaccination to submit to the school district a written declaration of their exemption that would be shared with local and state health officials. The declaration would otherwise be confidential.
“Right now, what some of the health districts are telling me is they’ll ask the school districts … which kids have opted out and it takes them 2-3 weeks to get back the information, which is bad for the children who are opted out because, according to statutes, they have to be out of school for that incubation time,” Munk said.
Nevada law requires children to have immunizations to attend school, with limited exemptions. In case of an outbreak, children who are not vaccinated must stay out of class for the incubation period — the amount of time a particular disease takes to appear after the first exposure.
It’s a misdemeanor for a parent not to pull an unvaccinated child out of school during an outbreak.
Families opposed to vaccinations have come under the spotlight in recent days after dozens of people contracted the measles in the Pacific Northwest.
Munk said she was working on her bill well before the outbreak after hearing that it was hard to come by information about who might be vulnerable to a disease. She said a clearinghouse for the information would also be useful to guide public health campaigns.
“It also gives the health districts an idea of low vaccination areas so they can educate the parent,” she said. “Is it because you opted your child out, or is it that you can’t afford it? If you can’t afford it, let us help you.”
The bill has not yet been scheduled for a hearing.