Advocates opposed to new vaccination regulations take their case to Beacon Hill

It is a question of public health and parental rights. Advocates opposed to new vaccination regulations took their case to Beacon Hill Tuesday.

BOSTON — It is a question of public health and parental rights. Advocates opposed to new vaccination regulations took their case to Beacon Hill Tuesday.

"There's no drug, there's no medical procedure that has only benefits and no risks," anti-vaccine advocate Mark Blaxill said.

Hoping to sway lawmakers considering two bills, one of which would eliminate religion as a reason for not getting a child vaccinated.

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"The case is crystal clear on vaccines," Rep. Andy Vargas (D-Haverhill) said. "They've saved countless lives. Millions of lives."

Rep. Vargas introduced that bill in part because he says in recent years there's been a troubling trend in religious exemptions in Massachusetts.

"The rate of religious exemptions is at an all-time high right now. It's up 500 percent since the 80s," he said.

And yet, Vargas says, religious affiliations have gone down.

"I don't want to call it fraud. I think It's insincere to say for religious reasons, the majority of folks we've met with are just skeptical of the science," Vargas said.

Vargas's bill preserves not getting vaccinations if there's a valid medical reason not to, but opponents counter they often have to resort to asking for religious exemptions because medical ones are difficult to get.

And if a child does get measles, well, they say it used to happen all the time.

" I got measles. when I was a young child and no one worried about measles," Blaxhill said. “They used to make jokes about it. It was a Brady Bunch episode.”