by Benjamin Yount
As expected, Wisconsin lawmakers blocked a new meningitis vaccine requirement and ended the emergency power the state’s public health department had over the chickenpox.
The Joint Committee for Review of Administrative Rules Thursday voted to suspend the Department of Health Service’s new vaccine rules.
The vote was not a surprise, nor was the 6-4 Republican-Democrat split.
JCRAR chief Sen. Steve Nass, R-Whiterwater, said the decision to suspend the rules is a victory both for parents and for the rule of law in Wisconsin.
“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,” Nass said in a statement.
Predictably, Democrats at the Wisconsin Capitol were not happy about the decision.
“Wisconsin Republicans continue to spit in the face of science and public health,” Sen. Chris Larson, D-Milwaukee, said on Twitter. “Today, 6 members of an obscure committee voted to repeal the meningitis vaccine requirement for 7th graders, despite recent outbreaks in the U.S. which have killed people.”
DHS wants to create a new meningitis vaccine requirement for 7th graders, with a booster in high school.
The state also wanted to expand its emergency “substantial outbreak” powers to include both meningitis and the chickenpox.
DHS also wanted to require parents to get a doctor’s note as proof of the chickenpox, in order for moms and dads to opt their kids out of the chickenpox vaccine.
Dozens of parents and parents groups testified at the statehouse this week against those ideas.
“JCRAR’s suspension action restores the reasonable right of parents to make immunization decisions for their children regarding the meningitis vaccine and the process for exempting children that have had the chickenpox disease from the vaccination mandate,” Nass added.
DHS has tried to issue new vaccine rules in each of the last two years. JCRAR’s vote means they cannot try again until April of next year.
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Benjamin Yount is a contributor to The Center Square.
Photo “Steve Nass” by Wisconsin State Senate. Background Photo “Wisconsin Capitol” by Yinan Chen.