Disappointing retreat on vaccination bill

From an editorial published Thursday in the (Raleigh) News and Observer:

The three state senators who withdrew a bill that would have required all children to be vaccinated against certain diseases and would have removed a religious exemption should not have bowed to pressure.

Introducing the well-reasoned bill brought Sens. Jeff Tarte of Cornelius, Tamara Barringer of Cary and Terry Van Duyn of Asheville a torrent of protest, and they gave in. While it’s fine for parents to believe their religion prohibits them or their children from receiving vaccinations, lawmakers have to look out for the well-being of all citizens and stand by sound public policy.

And it is simply a fact that it is in the public’s interest to have all children protected against disease when they can be. Otherwise, there is a very real risk of returning to days when whooping cough, measles and other diseases for which there now are preventative vaccines were common and very dangerous.

This was overdue legislation that would have brought North Carolina up to standards recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Public health policy should not be subject to special-interest pressure. Such policy is about protecting the public – and in this case members of the public who can’t really advocate for themselves.