Frankel: Metcalfe anti-vaccination legislation ‘irresponsible’

Frankel to introduce legislation requiring education for parents who forego children’s vaccination

HARRISBURG, APRIL 30 – As the nation sees its largest outbreak of measles in decades – a disease once thought eradicated in the United States — state Rep. Dan Frankel, D-Allegheny, and Democratic chair of the House Health Committee said he was dismayed to see his fellow legislators introduce and endorse anti-vaccination legislation.

“Today across the United States communities find themselves confronting outbreaks of diseases that we had successfully eradicated decades ago,” Frankel said. “These outbreaks are occurring not because the disease changed or mutated, but because people chose to forgo safe, effective vaccinations, putting themselves or their children at risk.

“In the face of these unprecedented outbreaks, what Representative Daryl Metcalfe is doing today -- lending the dignity of his office to the pseudo-science of the anti-vaccination community -- is irresponsible at best. The science and safety of vaccines is not in question, or in doubt. What is in question is why Representative Metcalfe would choose to lend his support to a cause that doesn't just put individuals in danger, but entire communities.

“I implore Representative Metcalfe to reconsider his position, especially in the face of the ongoing measles outbreaks across our nation. These easily preventable diseases should be in history books, not in hospitals' emergency rooms.”

To that end, Frankel is planning to introduce new legislation that would require parents seeking a religious or philosophical exemption to get an annual medical consultation to understand the existing threats to children’s health from communicable diseases, and to get briefed on potential school exclusions and quarantines in the case of outbreaks.

Current law only requires parents seeking an exemption to sign a form — once.

“The choice to forego immunity protections is a serious one,” Frankel said. “As children grow, new options for disease resistance become available, and more outbreaks occur; parents should continuously educate themselves about the implications of refusing immunizations.”

As of Monday there have been 13 individual outbreaks of measles in 22 states this year, affecting more than 700 individuals. More than 500 of the people infected in 22 states were not vaccinated. Sixty-six people have been hospitalized, including 24 who had pneumonia. More than one-third of the cases are children younger than 5.