Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey (R) this week said he was “pro-vaccination” and vowed not to sign any bills passed by the state legislature that could decrease vaccinations, saying his state is “pro-vaccination.”
“Traditionally I don’t comment on bills that are moving through the Legislature,” Ducey told reporters on Wednesday, according to The Arizona Republic. "But because this involves public health, I think it's important for people to know that we are pro-vaccination in the state of Arizona. Vaccinations are good for our kids and helpful for public health."
His comments came after the Arizona House Health and Human Services Committee approved three bills last week to expand exemptions from mandatory vaccinations.
Ducey did not publicly comment on the specifics of the bills said he would veto any legislation that would jeopardize public health, the newspaper noted. He said he would not sign anything that does not promote vaccinations.
"I'm pro-vaccination, I'm anti-measles. I want to see fewer people being exposed to measles and the other things that we've spent decades, through research and development in the medical industry and health care, making our country a better place and safer place to live," Ducey said.
All five Republican members of the committee voted to approve the measures, which the committee approved 5-4 along party lines despite warnings from public health officials.
The state currently allows parents to seek nonmedical “personal belief” exemptions to vaccinations for schoolchildren in kindergarten through 12th grade.
One bill would expand vaccine exemption categories and removes the requirement of having parents sign a state health department form to get the vaccine exemption, the Republic reports.
Another bill requires doctors to offer parents an "antibody titer" blood test to see if the child is already immune to an illness or needs the vaccine. Critics say that the tests are unreliable and hard to interpret.
The third measure, an informed-consent bill, would require physicians to provide an additional 30 pages to parents with information about the ingredients in the vaccinations and the risks.
Arizona Rep. Nancy Barto (R), the committee chairwoman who sponsored the three bills, said they are meant to promote parental rights, the newspaper noted.
“We are here to acknowledge vaccines have a place, but it's every parent's individual right to decide the vaccine's place in the child's life,” Barto said.
The committee’s vote comes amid measles outbreaks in the Pacific Northwest and New York state.
An outbreak in Clark County, Washington, led the state to declare a public health emergency. The county has been dubbed an anti-vaccination “hot spot” and had seen 68 confirmed cases as of Friday, predominantly among those were are not immunized against the infection.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, so far in 2019, has seen reported cases of measles in California, Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, New York, Oregon and Texas.