Tennessee law currently allows parents to refuse to immunize their children as long as the state is “in the absence of an epidemic or immediate threat of an epidemic.” Other sections of the Tennessee statute allow parents to deny immunizations of their kids “except where the medical examination, immunization or treatment is necessary for the protection of the health or safety of others.”
These exceptions would be removed according to the legislation, allowing parents to opt-out of school-required vaccinations during the coronavirus pandemic. The bill also would give parents the option to cite “right of conscience” as a reason not to immunize their children.
Rep. Jay Reedy, a Republican from Erin, and Sen. Mark Pody, a Republican from Lebanon, are the lead sponsors of the legislation. They introduced the bill earlier this week.
“I do believe that if you have a religious exemption, then we the government should not shut that option down,” Reedy told The Associated Press in a phone interview Friday.