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House Bill 298 — Immunizations, exemptions

House Bill 298 — Immunizations, exemptions

Parrish Miller
March 6, 2021

Bill Description: House Bill 298 would require schools to inform parents about their right to enroll their children without having them receive immunizations.

Rating: +1

Does it in any way restrict public access to information related to government activity or otherwise compromise government transparency or accountability? Conversely, does it increase public access to information related to government activity or increase government transparency or accountability?

House Bill 298 amends Section 39-4802, Idaho Code, dealing with exemptions from the immunization mandates contained in Idaho law for children attending school in the state. The bill adds a new subsection (3) that says, "School officials shall describe the exemptions provided in this section and provide a citation to this section in any communication to parents and guardians regarding immunization."

While this single sentence does not change or increase parental rights in Idaho, it does require that schools be more transparent about what is actually required by law. Right now, most schools tend to focus exclusively on the language found in Section 39-4801, Idaho Code, which talks about immunizations being required. They conspicuously omit the language from the following section, which says, "Any minor child whose parent or guardian has submitted a signed statement to school officials stating their objections on religious or other grounds shall be exempt from the provisions of this chapter."

The inclusion of "or other grounds" means that any objection is sufficient. It can be philosophical, personal, or just a matter of preference. Exemptions in Idaho are not limited to "sincerely held religious beliefs," as they are in some states. Many parents are not aware of the broad exemption available to them, however, so when the school claims that immunization is required, the parents don't know about their right to opt out. House Bill 298 should help to rectify this injustice. 


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