SALT LAKE CITY — A bill that would require parents to watch an educational video before exempting their children from vaccinations passed a House committee on its third try.

HB221, which passed the House Health and Human Services Committee on a 7-3 vote Monday, goes to the House floor next.

The bill underwent several changes after being held twice in committee. Debate became heated at times during those meetings, with opponents arguing that the bill punishes parents who choose not to immunize their children.

Kristin Chevrier, who spoke at the second committee meeting on the bill, said she has collected 50 letters from parents of children who were injured by vaccines.

"I appreciate the intent of the bill, but I have concerns," Chevrier said.

The bill's sponsor, Rep. Carol Spackman Moss, D-Holladay, said she respects parents' personal exemptions and that the video is intended to educate parents about what to do in the event of an outbreak.

She said many aren't aware their children will be quarantined if that happens.

"I think we have a bill that is true to the principles we started with as a working group," Moss said. "And those principles are that we're responsible — the public health departments, the school nurses, doctors, all of us — to protect children from vaccine preventable diseases."

The bill would require parents to watch the 20-minute educational video three times throughout a student's school career — in kindergarten, and seventh and 10th grades.

In its previous draft, the bill would have required parents to watch the video every year.

A substitute bill that would have ordered local health departments to make exemption forms available online was also scrapped.

Dr. Joseph Miner, the executive director of the Utah Department of Health, said that may make it "too convenient and easy for individuals to obtain the exemption, because it can very easily be abused."

Miner said he's concerned about Utah losing "herd immunity," a protection granted to a community when a majority of its members are vaccinated against infectious diseases.


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