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Justice vetoes vaccine bill, HB 5105



WVOW News


CHARLESTON  Governor Jim Justice issued a veto for a state house bill that would have loosened or removed vacation requirements in select schools.

 

Wednesday evening the governor announced his veto of House Bill 5150 that would have removed vaccination requirements for students in virtual public schools and allow private and parochial schools to set their own standards.“Since this legislation was passed, I have heard constant, strong opposition to this legislation from our State’s medical community,” Justice said in his veto message. “The overwhelming majority that have voiced their opinion believe that this legislation will do irreparable harm by crippling childhood immunity to diseases such as mumps and measles. West Virginia historically has seen very few instances of these diseases, specifically because the vaccination requirements in this State are so strong.”

 

First-time West Virginia students must be vaccinated against disease such as polio, mumps, rubella, the measles and more unless properly medically exempted.

 

“Importantly,” the governor said, “the vaccines at issue have been required in this State for decades and have kept our communities safe. Our surrounding states, however, have seen spikes in such illnesses recently. These spikes, we are advised, are the result of the lesser vaccine requirements in those states.”

 

The opposition to the vaccination bill was resounding from education and healthcare related organizations across the Mountain State. A total of twenty-eight associations, groups and organization sent a joint letter to the governor urging advocating for a veto. West Virginia’s paper of record, the Charleston Gazzette-Mail published the letter back on March fifteenth.

 

“Eliminating once-debilitating diseases, such as polio, tetanus, measles and mumps through immunization was a victory for medicine,” said Kevin Yingling, RPh, MD FACP, CEO, Marshall Health Network.

 

“We applaud the Governor for taking this step to protect the health and safety of children in our state,” said Elaine Darling, director of programs at The Center for Rural Health Development, the lead agency for the West Virginia Immunization Network.

 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently reported a resurgence of measles in 2024. Reported cases of measles January to March this year have already exceeded infections from last year. As of March twenty-first, seventeen states have reported measles including four out of the five state surrounding West Virginia. Kentucky and West Virginia have no reported cases.

 

Not everyone was against the HB 5105. The West Virginians for Health Freedom and West Virginians for Religious Freedom present a petition to the Governor’s Office in support of the bill.

 

“We have no quibble against people who want to get the vaccines,” Alvin Moss, MD told the Parkersburg News and Sentinel. “That’s great, and that’s their choice. We just want to be allowed the choice also to say no. We’ve had previous vaccine injury in our family and we think that is too big a risk.”

 

According to the United States Department of Health and Human Services, the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program has compensated more than 6,600 injury claims between 1990 and 2018. One individual for every one million vaccines administered was compensated for injury, according to Health and Human Services.

 

“West Virginia is way ahead of the pack in protecting our children from preventable diseases like the measles, and in this matter, I will defer to our licensed medical professionals who have come forward overwhelmingly to say this bill could and likely would result in reduced immunity and harm to West Virginia’s kids,” Governor Justice reasoned in his veto message.

 

Congressman Alex Mooney, Justice’s opponent for the US Senate Republican nomination, quickly took the governor to ask over the veto.

 

“This is yet another sign of Liberal Jim Justice disregarding religious freedom and parental rights,” Mooney’s campaign stated.

 

Moreover, legislators in support of the bill say West Virginia needs to continue its recent trend of expanding personal freedom.

 

“West Virginia is way ahead of the pack in protecting our children from preventable diseases like the measles, and in this matter, I will defer to our licensed medical professionals who have come forward overwhelmingly to say this bill could and likely would result in reduced immunity and harm to West Virginia’s kids. Our kids are our future. They are our most important resource, and I will protect them with everything I have. Accordingly, I hereby disapprove and return Enrolled Committee Substitute for House Bill 5105,” Justice said.

 

PHOTO | File

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