September 13, 2019
Press Release
Vaccinate All Child Act would prohibit states from offering religious or non-medical exemptions for meeting public school vaccine requirements VACCINES Act helps increase awareness about the safety of vaccines, improve immunization rates and safeguard against future outbreaks of deadly disease

(Rochester, NY) – Today, Congressman Joe Morelle announced he is sponsoring two pieces of legislation to increase immunization rates for children nation-wide and protect communities from outbreaks of deadly disease. The VACCINES Act (H.R. 2862) will help increase public awareness of the benefits of vaccines, and the Vaccinate All Children Act (H.R. 2527) will ensure all children attending public school who are medically able to receive immunizations are vaccinated.

“One of the greatest threats facing our families is the rapid and dangerous spread of misinformation around the safety of vaccines. The science is clear: vaccines are safe, and they are effective,” said Rep. Morelle. “It is our responsibility as adults to foster a healthy environment for children to learn, play, and grow. That is why I am proud to co-sponsor these pieces of legislation to encourage every family to get vaccinated and prevent the spread of serious and entirely preventable diseases.”

“Vaccines are a cornerstone for preventing illness and death for our children— they have literally saved millions of lives,” said Dr. Jeff Kaczorowski, pediatrician and Senior Advisor at The Children’s Agenda. “As a pediatrician, I have seen babies die from diseases that are now preventable through immunizations.  We have a responsibility as adults to make sure our kids and communities are safe and healthy. The Children’s Agenda and I are proud to stand with Congressman Morelle to support this critical legislation.”

“As a Mom and as a Pediatrician, I have chosen to vaccinate myself and my children because I know it is the safest way to prevent these devastating diseases,” said Dr. Elizabeth Murray, Pediatrician at Golisano Children’s Hospital. “Ensuring that all who can be vaccinated are vaccinated is critical for a healthy community.”

Research has proven and medical experts agree that vaccination is an effective and necessary tool to guard against the spread of viruses and bacteria. The health and safety of those who are too young or medically ineligible to be vaccinated is dependent upon the immunization of the public at large, often referred to as “herd immunity.”

According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), one dose of the measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine is approximately 93 percent effective at preventing measles, while two doses are 97 percent effective.  However, the recent trend of choosing to decline vaccinations—often based on theories with no basis in science—has caused an historic outbreak of measles in more than 20 states nationwide, creating a significant public health crisis.

The VACCINES Act would help address this misinformation by authorizing funds for the CDC to increase public awareness on the benefits of immunizations, as well as conduct research on what drives vaccination hesitancy. In addition, it would authorize a national system of surveillance for vaccine rates to better predict and prevent future outbreaks.

The Vaccinate All Children Act would make preventative health service grants to states conditional on prohibiting religious and non-medical exemptions for public school vaccine requirements. Children for whom immunization is medically safe would be required to be vaccinated in accordance with the recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices.

Currently, all 50 states require vaccinations for children to attend school. However, 44 states allow religious exemptions, while 15 states allow exemptions for either religion or personal beliefs. Five states, including New York, currently allow only medical exemptions.

“This is a question of safeguarding the public health, and the answer is clear,” continued Rep. Morelle. “I respect every American’s right to religious freedom, but it cannot come at the cost of the health and safety of our children. As students go back to school, it is especially important that we take action on this legislation and ensure they have a safe place to learn and thrive.”