A recent ruling by a Wisconsin legislative committee to block policies on school vaccination rules will not stop health officials from working with schools and families to ensure student safety, Wisconsin Department of Health Services officials say.
BELOIT — A recent ruling by a Republican controlled legislative committee blocking recommendations for vaccinations for school age children once again has placed health care in the political realm.
However, health officials say they will continue to work with school districts and families to ensure the safety of children.
The Joint Committee for Review of Administrative Rules (JCRAR) voted 6-4 on March 9 to block a new policy put forward by Democratic Gov. Tony Evers.
The policy would have required students entering seventh grade to be vaccinated against menigitis and high school seniors would have had to get a booster shot. Currently, students don’t have to get vaccinated against meningitis.
Also, the policy would have required families to provide proof from a healthcare provider that a child had contracted chickenpox to avoid the chickenpox vaccination requirement.
All six Republican members on the committee voted to block the policy after a public hearing on March 7 when some parents of students voiced objections to the new policies. The committee also voted to block the policy last legislative session.
“Today’s decision by the Joint Committee for Review of Administrative Rules does not change our commitment to ensure every Wisconsin family has ample access to disease-preventable and life-saving vaccines,” said the Wisconsin Department of Health Services in an official statement. “DHS will continue to work with schools and child care centers to protect the health, safety, and well-being of children in Wisconsin.”
This vote means that certain portions of Ch. 144 of the Wisconsin Administrative Code Department of Health Services (DHS) will be suspended.
“JCRAR, once again, met its oversight duty relating to the improper actions taken by DHS to enact binding administrative code provisions that were arbitrary and capricious, as well as placing undue hardships on the families of this state,” said Sen. Stephen Nass, R-Whitewater, in the official press statement.
Nass, who is co-chair of the joint committee, stated in a news release that the suspension “restores the reasonable right of parents to make immunization decisions for their children.” Nass and other Republicans have cited parental rights and personal freedom as reasons to oppose vaccination rules since the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Department of Health Services (DHS) issued support for public health professionals and the information provided by them in their official statement issued the day of the decision:
“(Public health professionals) work day in and day out to ensure Wisconsinites have the most accurate information to make the best health care decisions for themselves, their families, and their communities,” a news release from DHS stated. “Their dedication and unwavering commitment continues to keep all of us safer and more protected from communicable diseases.”