(Weirton WV) – Weirton Medical Center (WMC) infection control specialists are
expressing concern about a proposed bill by the West Virginia Senate to allow for
exemptions from school required immunizations. Senate Bill 535 allows for students to
be exempted from any immunization with a note from parents stating a religious or
philosophical exemption.
Beth Abram, WMC Infection Prevention Manager stated, “The immunizations required
for students under WV law are not for seasonal illnesses such as influenza, but
diseases with lifelong impact on children and adults. Immunizations for diseases such
as measles and polio have basically eliminated these diseases in communities.”
Abram added, “What is troubling is that it takes only small reduction in immunization to
break herd immunity for most diseases. Once a disease like polio or measles is
released back into the community, many hospitals aren’t even equipped to treat patients
because they have been eradicated for so long.”
Under current WV law, students are required to be immunized for the following diseases
to attend school chickenpox, hepatitis-b, measles, meningitis, mumps, diphtheria, polio,
rubella, tetanus and whooping cough. WV law allows for parents to request an
exemption subject to approval by the local or state health commissioner.