Missouri State Lawmaker Proposes Legislation to Prevent Schools Discriminating Against Unvaccinated Children

Patrick Kissel, Reporter

Missouri Rep. Lynn Morris who represents the 140th district has proposed a bill in the Missouri General Assembly to bar schools or other public institutions from refusing people who have vaccine exemptions on medical or religious grounds. The bill had its first hearing in the House Health and Mental Health Committee on April 8.

The bill, H.B. 711, would make it so  elementary schools, secondary schools, public institutions of higher education, daycares or physician’s offices cannot bar people who have vaccine exemptions on medical or religious grounds which are granted in Missouri from entry or service.

“It should be the choice of the parents whether or not they want to get their child vaccinated,” freshman Mackenzie Sifford said.

Current Missouri law requires students get vaccinations for numerous diseases including measles and mumps. Missouri permits students with medical or religious exemptions to still attend school, although according to the Department of Health and Senior Services less than one tenth of one percent of children get medical exemptions each year, according to KRCG.

“To make a safer school environment students should be required to get vaccines. I really don’t see why students shouldn’t get vaccines,” freshman Ryan  Hughes said.

For students getting a religious exemption, one parent must sign a form. There is no requirement to verify religious practices do not permit vaccinations, though. More parents have been getting such exemptions in recent years, according to KRCG.

“It lowers the chance of other students and people of getting easily transmitted diseases and it increases herd immunity for those who cannot physically get vaccines,” junior Erin Strong said.