Oklahoma parents rallied at the state capitol on Monday to protect their rights when it comes to childhood vaccinations. The group said they should call the shots, not the government and they rallied to support a new bill reinforcing that right.
“We are the voice for vaccine choice,” the group cheered.
The chants echoed throughout the capitol from a group called Oklahomans for Vaccine and Health Choice. They want to protect their choice to not get their children vaccinated.
Oklahoma law requires students be vaccinated to attend public schools, but it gives parents an out for medical, personal or religious reasons.
“That’s why I’m here, parents must be able to make that choice,” said Casey Ohlsson of Tulsa.
Ohlsson said her son, Nick, was injured when he went for a round of shots at 9-months-old and immediately started seizing.
“We lost him after that, he quit talking, any progress he was making at nine months, he wasn't crawling, he wasn't moving, he wasn't talking, he just screamed all the time,” Ohlsson explained.
Nick was later diagnosed with encephalitis of the brain. He is improving thanks to years of medical treatment in which doctors removed certain metals from his body.
Ohlsson said she wants to protect her right to refuse vaccinations for her other child, a 4-year-old girl.
Rep. Randy Grau attended the rally and revealed his HB 3016, which reinforces the current law that protects parents' rights.
“You did not pick this fight. This fight came to you when there was a proposal to take away your choice, to take away your rights,” said Grau, (R-Oklahoma City).
This comes in response to Senate Bill 1478 that would strip parental choice from the list of vaccine exemptions.
Sen. Ervin Yen authored it. He is a cardiac anesthesiologist and said vaccines are a matter of public safety.
“If this bill is shot down, I’ll file it again and again and I won’t stop until it’s passed,” said Yen, (R- OKC). “Because it’s the right thing to do.”
Yen's bill would not require children who are home schooled to be vaccinated, but it would apply to private school students.