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‘Little bill’?: West Virginia House OKs loosening vaccine rules for students

By Roger Adkins, Charleston Gazette-Mail

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A bill that would loosen restrictions on mandatory vaccinations for students in West Virginia cleared the House of Delegates after heavy debate Monday.

House Bill 5105 aims to eliminate vaccine requirements for students attending public virtual schools, private schools and parochial schools, with the exception of those participating in sanctioned athletic events organized by the West Virginia Secondary School Activities Commission.

The proposed bill was amended to include religious exemptions, stating that no provision of the bill shall apply to any child whose parents or guardians present a letter stating that a child cannot be vaccinated for religious reasons.

The bill was approved 51-47, with two delegates absent or not voting, and now heads to the Senate.

The bill’s lead sponsor, Delegate Laura Kimble, R-Harrison, called the legislation a “little bill” that would make a “little change” to a mandate. Speaking in favor of the bill on the House floor, she argued for individual freedom of choice.

“When I found out that virtual public-school students also were required to have all of the mandated immunizations, I thought the absurdity in the policy was evident,” she said. “That is how this bill came to be.”

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