A proposal to drop a state's requirement that all children receive a battery of vaccinations before attending school would be a bad idea in any year. The fact it was suggested in South Dakota in a year when everyone is talking about a possible pandemic of disease is, well, mind-boggling.
State Rep. Lee Qualm, R-Platte, introduced a bill to stop schools and colleges in the state from requiring immunizations. Today, South Dakota allows exceptions to the requirement only in cases of a religious objection or the weakened immune system of a child.
On a 10-2 vote Tuesday, members of the House Health and Human Services Committee killed the bill.
Good for them.
As for freedom of choice, no individual right is absolute. As Americans, we do not possess the right to do anything and everything we want. For the greater good of our society, such as protection of public health, reasonable restrictions on our lives in the form of laws must and do exist.
Proven effective following careful review by informed health officials in protecting individual children and the public at large from diseases, the benefits of required vaccinations far outweigh concerns.
A recent resurgence of measles in the U.S. (the disease was declared eliminated in the U.S. in 2000, but more than 1,200 cases were confirmed in 2019) blamed on more parents opting against vaccinating their children provides compelling evidence of the value in and need for childhood immunizations across our country.
"Vaccinations have literally saved millions of lives over the years," Gov. Kristi Noem said in opposition to Qualm's bill during her weekly news conference last week.
As a result of proper action at the statehouse this week, that will continue to be the case in South Dakota.
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