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Arizona governor tight-lipped on vaccine bills as legislature weighs exemptions



A rizona Gov. Doug Ducey refused to reveal his plans for Saturday's bills advancing through the legislature, which would weaken the vaccine rules in the state.

Instead of saying whether he would veto the measures, he reiterated his support for vaccinating children against diseases.

"I usually do not comment on legislation as it moves through the legislature," Ducey told the Washington Examiner . "Of course, when we are talking about public health, I want to make sure our children are as safe and protected as possible, and I hope that this is where the legislature will land."

Asked to clarify his stance on vaccination, he replied: "I am supportive of vaccination. I have three boys, they have all been vaccinated."

Ducey, who has said before that Arizona should consider tighter rules against exemptions, made comments in Washington, DC, during the National Governors' Association annual meeting.

The bills in Arizona would provide "religious exemption" to vaccines and would make doctors provide more tests and information on vaccination.

The actions from the GOP-controlled legislature to the loose vaccine rules comes as Arizona has seen an increase in the number of children who have not gotten vaccinated. It is also occurring as an area in Oregon facing the outbreak of measles due to low vaccination rates.

The outbreak caused by Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, a Democrat, declared a state of emergency, allowing officials to request medical resources from other states. The outbreak is also spurring the Congress to hold hearings on the importance of vaccinations.

The Republican majority in the Arizona House Health and Human Services Committee has approved three bills to loosen vaccine requirements. In Arizona, parents are already allowed to ask for "personal belief" exemptions to vaccines for children in kindergarten through 1

2th grades.

One of the measures being considered would add a "religious faith" exemption to that age group. It would also allow parents to opt out of vaccines for "personal belief" if their children are in pre-school. Under the proposal, parents would no longer need to sign a state health department to get the exemption.

Another bill would provide patients with information on vaccine ingredients and their risks, including how people can file a complaint if they have had side effects after getting a vaccine. The third bill says that doctors have to offer patients a blood test that would determine whether their children are immune to a specific illness.

Measles are highly contagious but prevented through the MMR vaccine. The so-called "anti-vax movement" has urged the parents to avoid the vaccine, pointing to a debunked study from the 1990s suggesting that the vaccine, which also protects against mumps and rubella, has autism. Leading health officials say the vaccine does not cause autism and causes only mild side effects such as short-term pain in the arm where doctors stick the needle in.

The U.S. has a National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program for resolving injury claims from vaccines for when – while rare – there are severe complications from a range of vaccines. In 2018, people filed more than 47,600 reports of side effects, not all of which are severe, according to government data.


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