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Vaccine exemption bills rising despite some fines for anti-vaxxers




Bills that fine people who fail to vaccinate are gaining attention, but policies that allow people to forgo vaccinations may actually be on the rise.

On Sunday, Germany’s health minister proposed fining parents of school-age children who haven’t received a measles inoculation up to $2,790. The suggestion comes amid concerns that the virus could make a comeback in that country, as it has recently in 22 states in the US. On the heels of a historic outbreak of measles in New York City last month, officials ordered people in four affected zip codes to get vaccines, with anyone failing to do so facing fines of up to $1,000.

But while these bills gain a foothold in the press, policies that allow people to avoid vaccines may actually be on the rise in the US, the American Academy of Pediatrics recently told CNN.

“The volume of legislative activity is greater than in past years,” the organization said, noting that 20 states have introduced bills this year that make it easier for people to avoid inoculations.

Read more: What you need to know about the US measles outbreak — the largest since the disease was eradicated

As Business Insider has previously reported, measles is highly contagious and can be fatal, killing one or two of every 1,000 children who contract it, according to the CDC. Measles can also cause permanent hearing loss or intellectual disabilities. Unvaccinated young children are most at risk.

In most cases, the vaccine exemption bills — introduced in states like Washington, Arizona, Texas, and Maine — broaden the reasons why parents can opt out of vaccinating their kids against diseases like measles. In other cases, they simply require that doctors give more information about the potential risks of vaccines, which are generally confined to mild redness and swelling at the site of the injection.

Last year, a study published in the journal PLOS One suggested that the rate of Americans failing to vaccinate for non-medical reasons has steadily risen since 2009.

And since 2013, the number of vaccine exemption bills has risen every year, with seven bills introduced in 2013 and 19 bills introduced in 2017, according to CNN and the American Journal of Public Health.

Still, not all of those bills become laws. It remains to be seen how many of the 20 such bills introduced this year will turn into policies.

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