measles needle

A needle and measles vaccine at the Lancaster County state health center near Lancaster on Saturday. Nearly 100 people got free shots against measles in the wake of a suspected case here.

Pennsylvania is one of just 20 states that allow philosophical exemptions to vaccinations for school children, and some legislators want to change that. 

RELATED: Opting out of vaccines: County private schools exemption rates are much higher than state average

Today Pa. State Rep. Mike Schlossberg, a Democrat from Lehigh County, announced his plans to co-sponsor a bill that would disallow philosophical exemptions. Rep. Becky Corbin, a Republican from Chester County, is the bill's sponsor.

"Measles, which was once thought to be distant memory, has returned to Pennsylvania, exposing infants and children with compromised immune systems to illnesses that can lead to hearing loss, brain damage and, in worst cases, death," Schlossberg said. "This legislation will ensure that diseases like measles don't become a public health crisis in our state. The science is abundantly clear: vaccines save lives."

Philosophical exemptions are the most commonly requested in Pa., according to Schlossberg's news release, with more than 3,300 granted in the 2013-14 school year.

They're particularly high in private schools here; records from the Pennsylvania Department of Health indicate that 15.57 percent of kindergarten and seventh-grade students in Lancaster County private schools were exempted from vaccination requirements on philosophical grounds.

Across all students in those grades at Pennsylvania public and private schools, the rate of philosophical exemptions is 1.17 percent, department records show.

Heather Stauffer covers the health care industry. She can be reached at or 717-481-6022.