Refusal to vaccinate could be grounds for a lawsuit

As several states, including Minnesota, consider changes to vaccination laws, opinions are divided.

Minnesota attorney Joe Tamburino, who believes that parents should vaccinate their children, is shocked how easy it is for kids to attend school without being vaccinated. Right now, if parents want to send their kids to school without vaccinating them, they can, they just need to sign a Conscientiousness Exemption form.

Especially in light of the measles outbreaks at Disneyland, and the more recently a Chicago daycare center, Tamburino believes parents of unvaccinated kids are opening themselves, and their school districts, to possible lawsuits.

"Think of it this way. Right now if you have a child with a peanut allergy, the school will say, ‘in this classroom it's going to be peanut-free, because we have "Billy" who can't be around peanuts.' Well say the school is on notice and Billy has an immune deficiency problem and the school allows, in that same classroom, other children who voluntarily with their family decide, not to vaccinate. That can cause a liability problem," said Tamburino.

Minnesota law already allows people to sue if someone knowingly spreads a communicable disease and Tamburino thinks not getting a measles vaccine is no different.

Sen. John Marty (DFL-Roseville) is one of the authors of the Minnesota bill aimed at requiring a signature from a health care provider before parents can opt out of a vaccination.

"The point of this bill is for the parents who do not chose to skip the immunization to know what they are doing, and are making a conscious choice even though the scientific evidence shows there's a huge benefit for doing it," said Sen. Marty.

At this point, only time will tell if lawsuits will be filed.

"Whether or not lawsuits would be successful, we don't know, but it could at least start the process that could be a problem for school districts and daycare centers," said Tamburino.

"The attorneys' concerns are understandable, because no one thought of this happening. It's only now, with the measles issues and everything else that people are paying attention," said Sen. Marty.


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