Vaccination has become a dirty word at the Oklahoma Capitol.
Public health policies that drew little attention for decades are now so politically toxic that few lawmakers want to take a recorded vote on the issue. And fewer still feel comfortable talking about updates to the state’s vaccination schedule or getting rid of certain vaccine exemptions.
As Oklahoma joins 25 other states in the worst measles outbreak in a generation, changing the state’s vaccination policies has become the latest third rail of politics. Public health officials appear paralyzed almost to the point of inaction, and many lawmakers beg their colleagues not to sponsor vaccine-related bills that could embolden potential opponents.
Former Sen. Ervin Yen is a cautionary tale