(HealthDay News) — Most vaccine-related bills introduced seek to expand exemptions, according to a research letter published in the February 12 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Saad B. Omer, PhD, from the Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University in Atlanta, and colleagues analyzed legislation proposed to modify exemptions to school immunization requirements at the state level. Data were obtained from the Immunization Action Coalition, with bills introduced from 2009–2012 included in the analyses. Bills were classified as those introduced in states that did or did not have a personal belief exemption (PBE) and as expanding or restricting exemptions.

The researchers found that during the study period there were 36 bills, including 30 in 12 states, that did not currently have a PBE and six in 20 states that did. Of the states with a current PBE, 25 percent (five states) saw introduction of a bill to restrict exemptions and 5 percent (one state) saw introduction of a bill to expand exemptions. Five (14 percent) of the 36 bills introduced were categorized as restricting and 31 (86 percent) as expanding exemptions. Thirty of these 31 bills proposed introducing a PBE. None of the expanding exemption bills passed, while three of the bills proposing restrictions on exemptions passed.

“Exemptions to school immunization requirements continue to be an issue for discussion and debate in many state legislatures,” the authors write.

One author disclosed receiving grant funding from Novartis Vaccines and the Merck Company Foundation.

Full Text (subscription or payment may be required)