EYEWITNESS LOCAL NEWS"WE THE PARENTS"
from Eyewitness News Online
Group Fights To Change Law That Mandates Child Vaccines In W.Va.
Reported by: Leslie Rubin
Videographer: John Tincher
Web Producer: Leslie Rubin
Reported: Jun. 25, 2012 10:23 PM EDT
Updated: Jun. 25, 2012 10:44 PM EDT
Charleston , Kanawha County , West Virginia
Some West Virginia families say they are having to choose between their faith and sending their kids to school.
A grass-roots group is rallying for change when it comes to mandated child vaccinations.
They say it comes down to one thing, a choice. While others argue vaccines save lives and without them, dangerous outbreaks could prove deadly and spread across the state.
"Whether you're vaccinated or not, it should be your choice on whether you want to vaccinate," says Theresa Kaelin, mother of two.
She's one of the ones fighting against a law that's been on the books for decades.
"The more liberal the exemption laws are, the more disease outbreaks we'll see," explains West Virginia Commissioner for Public Health Mariane Swinker.
Members of a grass-roots movement known as "We The Parents" packed into the House chamber at the West Virginia state capitol in an effort to convince lawmakers that there should be a religious exemption when it comes to vaccinating children.
Right now, West Virginia is one of only two states that require public and private school children to be vaccinated, unless they have a medical exemption.
"We are not anti-vaccine we are just pro vaccine choice," says Christina Peters.
Supporters of the current law say it puts West Virginia above the 48 states that allow non-medical exemptions.
"Immunizations are the most effective way, the most cheapest way, to protect the children and we have an obligation to speak for those who cannot speak for themselves," says Dr. Raheel R. Kahn.
The law currently prevents mothers like Kaelin from being able to send her kids to public school in West Virginia because of her beliefs.
"We're looking into home schooling, either home schooling or driving to Ohio," she says.
"Our laws are very protective and we should keep them that way," says Swinker.
Both supporters and opponents of changing the law spoke before the Health Interim Committee.
"We The Parents" hope the legislature takes up the issue next session.
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