About Rep. Vargas

Andy X. Vargas was elected to the Massachusetts House of Representatives in November of 2017. He previously served on the Haverhill City Council. He is a member of the Black and Latino Caucus and sits on the following committees: Ways & Means, Education, Public Health, and Small Business.

 

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An Act relative to vaccinations and public health

H.3999 | bi-partisan | science-driven | endorsed by public health professionals

Despite the fact that no major world religion is antivax and despite states like New York, Maine, West Virginia, Mississippi and more have removed the religious exemption to childhood vaccines, Massachusetts is late to recognize science, jeopardizing vulnerable populations, children, and people with compromised immune systems. It's time to grow the courage to protect public health in our Commonwealth.

removing the religious exemption to childhood vaccines is  endorsed by

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The Challenge

Religious exemptions for childhood vaccines are at an all-time high in Massachusetts. The state has pockets of schools with extraordinarily high rates of unvaccinated students with some over 25%. This creates an extreme risk for students and individuals that are unable to receive vaccinations due to medical reasons out of their control, such as weak immune systems.

Mass. General Laws require the religious exemption to be a “sincere religious belief.” However, religious exemptions are at a 5x high in Massachusetts since the 1980’s, despite there being no change in the state’s religious demographics. Instead, people are taking advantage of the lax regulation of the exemption to push medical misinformation onto their children, which in turn puts other children and individuals with compromised immune systems at risk.

The Solution

An act relative to vaccination and public health, simply removes the religious vaccination exemption for children entering schools in Massachusetts. The bill does not make vaccines mandatory. If a parent voluntarily chooses not to vaccinate their children, they can do so, but must find non-traditional schooling for them. The bill is a sentence long stating:
 

“Section 15 of chapter 76 of the General Laws, as appearing in the 2016 Official Edition, is hereby amended by striking out the third paragraph.”

Several other states and countries have successfully improved vaccination rates and improved public health by removing the religious exemption to childhood vaccines.