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Arizona bill requires risks, benefits be disclosed before vaccination

(Flickr Photo/PAHO)

PHOENIX — A new Arizona bill would require anyone administering a vaccine to provide patients and guardians with information about the shot’s benefits, risks and ingredients.

Republican state Sen. Paul Boyer recently introduced SB 1115, which he said would allow parents to give “informed consent” when they get their children vaccinated.

The bill would require health professionals to share the benefits and risks of each vaccine, the manufacturer’s product insert, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s ingredient list and an explanation of how to report a vaccine-adverse event before giving someone a shot.

“I just think it’s important that as parents, that we know exactly what is going into our child’s bodies when they’re being vaccinated,” Boyer told KTAR News 92.3 FM on Tuesday.

Vaccinations are required for children to enter school in Arizona, but parents may file a personal belief exemption to prevent their children from having to get it.

Boyer said there has been an “explosion” in the number of vaccines and doses given to children since the 1960s.

He also said parents should be aware of the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act of 1986, which limited vaccine manufacturers’ liability for vaccine injury claims and created the federal government’s Vaccine Injury Compensation Program that has paid out $4 billion in its lifetime.

But Scottsdale’s Dr. Terry Simpson said this bill could scare parents away from vaccines, and could make children more vulnerable to getting preventable diseases, such as measles.

“It sounds like it’s a measure trying to scare people from getting vaccines and scaring them into an anti-vaccine matter,” he told KTAR News on Wednesday.

“I think it’s always good for people to know the risks and benefits, but let’s be clear: The No. 1 child killer before 1960 was measles, and it stopped when we started getting a vaccine. And we almost had it wiped out until 2000. Measles today still kills 100,000 people.”

An Arizona Department of Health Services statement provided to KTAR News 92.3 FM on Tuesday said while the agency doesn’t comment on pending legislation, it does strongly support vaccination.

“Vaccines are one of the most important public health advances of our time, preventing unnecessary illness, hospitalization, and even death from many diseases that were once commonplace,” the statement read.

“The current outbreak of measles and declared state of emergency in Washington highlight that the risk of outbreaks from these dangerous diseases still exists. Vaccines are safe and effective and support healthy Arizona children, families, and communities. ADHS recommends that all Arizona children are fully vaccinated on schedule.”

At least 35 people in the U.S. Northwest have been sickened with measles lately. Most of the people sick with measles in Washington and Oregon are children under age 10, and there are 11 more suspected cases yet to be confirmed.

While no one in Arizona has been ill with the disease, assistant director of the Arizona Department of Health Services Jessica Rigler told KTAR News that there is no reason for people to be worried — as long as they are vaccinated.

“Measles is a highly contagious disease, so if you’re not vaccinated against the measles virus, and you come into contact with someone who is sick with measles, there’s a very high likelihood that you will become sick as well,” she said Tuesday.

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