Bill that would change Oklahoma’s vaccination law fails in Senate committee

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OKLAHOMA CITY - A bill that would have stripped an exemption for opting out of vaccinating Oklahoma children died in a Senate committee Monday.

It was a family affair in a Senate committee hearing  on Monday.

Dozens of mothers with their babies in tow showed up in opposition of a controversial vaccine bill.

Right now, Oklahomans can opt out of vaccinating their kids due to religious or medical reasons -- or simply  personal choice.

Senator Ervin Yen is a doctor and his bill would take away parents' ability to opt out due to a personal reason.

“It’s about lives, it’s about public health, it’s about protecting people, especially kids,” Sen. Yen said.

Yen says the number of kids getting exemptions has doubled over the past decade, and that's dangerous especially when trying to prevent an outbreak like the measles outbreak traced to Disneyland.

The parents wearing these blue shirts are with "Oklahomans for Vaccine Choice."

Brandi Willimon was a strong opponent of the bill because of her family's experience with vaccines, starting with her eldest son.

“He actually had mumps three times, fully vaccinated, my second child has a severe vaccine injury,” Willimon said.

She says that is why she didn’t want to vaccinate her two youngest kids.

“Finally, you can convince your doctor you have a vaccine injury, then you can’t get a medical exemption, they’re not easy to obtain, my other children cannot receive a medical exemption even though I have a documented vaccine injury of my second child,” Willimon said.

She had to use a personal exemption.

After about an hour of debate, the Senate committee voted.

Yen’s bill failed 6 to 7.

“I guarantee you, with a 90 percent vaccination rate for kindergarteners on measles, mumps, rubella, it’s just a question of time before we have an outbreak,” Yen said.

Yen says he’ll push for the legislation again next year.