Idaho bills promote vaccine exemptions for students

The Idaho House Health and Welfare Committee voted to pass two bills regarding school immunization requirements and exemptions. One bill aims to extend school vaccine exemptions to 18-year-old students. The second bill would require school districts to inform parents about any available vaccine exemptions. Social media users are expressing concerns that these bills could lead to more deaths from vaccine-preventable illnesses like COVID-19.

Risk level: High

Recommendation: These bills may provide a platform for vaccine opponents, which may discourage patients in Idaho from getting recommended vaccines for themselves and for their children, including vaccines that are required for children attending school. A decline in vaccination rates has led to an uptick in life-threatening, vaccine-preventable diseases in schools, including measles. It is recommended doctors in Idaho be prepared to answer questions about routine vaccine safety. Messaging may emphasize that across multiple studies, vaccines and their ingredients have been shown to be safe; that the benefits of vaccination outweigh any potential risks across age groups; and that routine vaccines prevent severe illness and death from vaccine-preventable diseases.