Frankel, Kosierowski introduce vaccination legislation at Pittsburgh event

Experts, legislators to discuss necessity of childhood vaccinations as students head back to school

PITTSBURGH, Aug. 20 – As families prepare for a new school year, state Reps. Dan Frankel, D-Allegheny, and Bridget Kosierowski, D-Lackawanna, announced legislation to promote childhood immunizations and protect Pennsylvania residents from preventable diseases.

“It shouldn’t be easier to opt out of vaccinations than it is to follow the guidelines developed to keep children and communities safe,” Frankel said.

Current law requires parents who are seeking a non-medical exemption to state vaccination requirements to fill out one form, only once. Frankel’s bill would require those families to meet with a doctor every year to discuss the science of immunizations and the risks to forgoing them.  

“As we have seen several times in the last few years, communities across the United States have found themselves confronting outbreaks of diseases that we eradicated decades ago,’ Frankel said. “Today, we are introducing legislation to promote vaccination education so that parents can make informed decisions about immunizations for their children. The choice to opt out of vaccination has profound implications not just for the child, but for the community as well, and parents need to be aware of the risks they are taking.”

Kosierowski’s bill would mandate that Pennsylvania schools publish online the number of vaccinated and unvaccinated students.

“As parents, we wish to feel as though we are doing everything in our power to do what is best for our children,” said Kosierowski, who added that as a nurse, she knows first-hand how important vaccinations are. “This legislation would open that door for many parents and will protect all students’ health and safety while protecting their privacy and maintaining their dignity.”

Over the last several years, there have been outbreaks of whooping cough, measles, mumps, and meningitis across the United States, all of which can be successfully prevented by vaccination. On Monday alone, Gov. Tom Wolf responded to an ongoing outbreak of hepatitis A, which spread across 28 states, including Pennsylvania, by increasing outreach and vaccination efforts.