NC Lawmakers Behind Vaccine Bill Announce It's Dead

Apr 2, 2015

Credit National Conference of State Legislatures

A bill that would've made it tougher for parents to avoid vaccinating their children is dead. Fierce opposition from some parents prompted the two Republicans and one Democrat who sponsored it to back down.

Senator Terry Van Duyn didn't expect this bill to be so controversial because almost every child gets vaccinated.

"The public reaction to the bill was very swift and very furious," she says. "It created an environment that made it difficult to just even talk about it."

The legislation would've eliminated the religious exemption for vaccines.

Van Duyn is a Democrat from Buncombe County, which includes Asheville and has the highest percentage of religious exemptions: about 4 percent.

Of course, that means more than 95 percent of children are vaccinated, so she was shocked at the flood of enraged calls and emails her office received.

"I was not prepared for it," she says. "It was my hope that we could come up with a compromise that would respect everyone's point of view."

She partnered with Republican senators Jeff Tarte of Mecklenburg County and Tamara Barringer of Wake County to introduce the bill.

Senator Van Duyn says she still believes this is important and plans to try again next year.