Safety First

West Virginians would not tolerate it if a government official stood beside their family doctors and overruled physicians’ recommendations for care of our children. But much the same thing happens regarding state-mandated vaccinations for school students.

Students’ parents can be required to have their children vaccinated against certain diseases as a condition of school attendance, which is mandatory in West Virginia. As the law stands now, a county health department can order such vaccinations even if a child’s doctor says that could affect a child’s health adversely.

That may sound incredible, but it is state law.

Many people advocate the vaccination law as a means of safeguarding children from the spread of certain diseases in schools. Most doctors seem to agree with that.

But occasionally, physicians are aware of certain conditions that may make it risky for a few of their patients to have some vaccines. Often, allergies are to blame.

Again, as matters stand, the doctor’s orders can be overruled by local health departments.

That is simply crazy.

A bill in the Legislature would allow for children to be exempted from the mandatory vaccination rule if their doctors certify the patients’ health could be harmed. Incredibly, the bill, introduced by Delegate Ryan Ferns, D-Ohio, is being blocked.

This is more than a matter of individual liberties. It is one of protecting children. Ferns’ bill should be enacted.