Gov. Doug Ducey promised today he will not sign several controversial bills moving through the Legislature that could lead to fewer children being vaccinated.
Ducey said he will not sign any legislation that goes against promoting vaccinations.
“I’m pro-vaccination and anti-measles,” he said.
Specifically, Ducey was referring to three bills proposed by Rep. Nancy Barto, R-Phoenix, although he didn’t address the measures individually.
The bills would:
- Expand vaccination exemptions and eliminate a requirement that parents sign a state form in order for their kids to receive an exemption
- Require doctors to offer parents a blood test to determine if their child is already immune
- Require parents to be given extensive information about the risks of vaccines, including information that is typically reserved for doctors
“I think it’s important for people to know that we are pro-vaccination in the state of Arizona,” Ducey said. “Vaccinations are good for our kids and helpful for public health.”
Ducey’s strongly worded statements were a deviation from his tendency to avoid commenting on pending legislation before it arrives on his desk. And he acknowledged that, saying he felt the need to speak out because vaccinations are a matter of public health.
The governor’s statement likely indicates he would veto the bills if they got to his desk because inaction on his part could cause the bills to become law.
The House Health and Human Services committee advanced the bills last week despite protestations from doctors and medical professionals, who warned the measures would undermine public health.
At the time, Barto said she’s not necessarily opposed to vaccines. “These are not, in my view, anti-vaccine bills,” she said “They are discussions about fundamental individual rights.”
The bills have not yet passed the House, but Ducey made it clear that the measures are ultimately doomed, regardless of the Legislature’s actions.
But Barto’s bills have stirred controversy and concern because the U.S. Centers for Disease Control has confirmed 101 cases of measles from 10 states so far this year, largely among people who either have not had the vaccine or did not have the second dose.
A public health emergency was declared in January in the state of Washington in January, where there have been 55 confirmed cases, virtually all of those in children whose parents had chosen not to vaccinate them.
Some who spoke out against Barto’s bills in committee feared Arizona could become the next state for a measles outbreak if the measures were to become law.
Ducey has become a stronger voice for childhood vaccinations in recent months, saying on the campaign trail that all children should be inoculated against a host of diseases ranging from measles to chickenpox and mumps.
The governor hasn’t gone so far as to say the state should repeal a provision in law that allows residents to avoid vaccinations for personal reasons. But he has previously said that idea is worth reviewing if increased public education about vaccinations doesn’t increase vaccination rates.
Ducey sidestepped a question about if Arizona has a problem of not enough people getting vaccinated.
“I want to see fewer people being exposed to measles and the other things that we’ve spent decades, through research and development in the medical industry and health care, making our country a better place and a safer place to live so I want to see more kids being vaccinated,” he said.
Howard Fischer of Capitol Media Services contributed to this report.