Doctor responds to new vaccination bill

Published: Feb. 5, 2020 at 10:35 PM CST
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A new bill introduced in Pierre is catching some attention. If passed, it would waive vaccination requirements for South Dakota students. House Majority Leader Lee Qualm, introduced the bill that would stop schools and colleges from requiring vaccinations for students to enter school.

South Dakota currently allows vaccination exemptions for students who have weakened immune systems or have religious objections. With house bill 1235 known as the vaccination bill, schools would be prohibited from requiring immunizations. It would also make it a class one misdemeanor if schools or physicians “compel” someone to get a vaccination. If this bill passes, Dr. Mark List from Avera says there could be consequences.

"If nationwide vaccination rates go down and down and down, we're going to see more and more of these cases like measles and infectious organisms come back and wreak havoc on our communities,” said Dr. List.

He says vaccinations are one of the most important things when it comes to public health.

“It's very important to not only prevent disease, but also prevent the spread of disease,” said Dr. List.

While he does believe people have the right to make their own choices, "that's true except in the cases of infectious diseases,” said Dr. List.

He says choosing not to vaccinate could negatively impact others.

“This is not just about individual, personal health and parental choice. It's about the safety of the public,” said Dr. List.

"Why we require vaccinations is because when a child becomes infected they become a bio weapon and can spread the disease to all the other kids in the class, including kids who may be too sick to get the vaccinations or are too young to get certain vaccinations."

No matter the outcome of the bill, Dr. List urges people to continue getting vaccinated.

We have not heard back from House Majority Leader Lee Qualm about this bill. However, the bill says that people have the right to quote "bodily integrity" and "no person may be discriminated against for refusal to accept" a vaccination.