Metcalfe leads anti-vaccine rally for bill that would penalize medical practitioners

State Rep. Daryl Metcalfe leads an anti-vaccine rally at the Pa. Capitol (Capital-Star photo by Stephen Caruso)

In the midst of a measles outbreak nationwide, Pennsylvania state Rep. Daryl Metcalfe gathered with families and three anti-vaccination academics in Harrisburg on Tuesday to push a bill that punishes doctors who refuse to see unvaccinated patients. 

Fifteen of Metcalfe’s fellow Republicans have signed on to co-sponsor the bill, which includes a “vaccine non-discrimination” clause. 

The legislation would prohibit “discrimination” or “harassment” by health care providers or insurance companies against parents who decline to vaccinate their children. It also prevents doctors from making these parents sign a liability waiver acknowledging that the child could either catch or spread an illness.

As the number of measles cases across the U.S continues to grow, Metcalfe downplayed the timing of the event. He was joined by dozens of families clad in red who vigorously cheered on him and the other speakers — Mary Holland, a New York University law professor; Alvin Moss, West Virginia University’s director of Health Ethics and Law; and James Lyons-Weiler, a former University of Pittsburgh researcher who has since started his own anti-vaccine nonprofit.

The three combined argued that parents are not well-informed enough of potential medical risks when asked by doctors to OK vaccinations, in violation of medical ethics.

The federal government did set up a National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program in the 1980s to compensate families harmed by vaccinations gone wrong. Since its founding in 1988, the fund has paid out $3.9 billion to 6,122 claims. Another 11,214 were dismissed, according to a federal Health Resources and Services Administration report.

In the decade from 2006 to 2016, 3.1 billion vaccine doses were administered to kids in the U.S. Out of those doses, a little more than 5,500 people filed petitions for compensation, of which 3,700 were granted.

Despite some injuries from vaccines, the Centers for Disease Control website claims that “there is no link between vaccines and autism.”

During the event, Metcalfe appeared to compare doctors not treating unvaccinated kids to public distrust of AIDS patients during the ‘80s, because while AIDS is “a disease that you can contract and is very deadly,” vaccines were aimed at “childhood diseases that I had when I was kid” and that were “not really a risk a death.”

According to a late 2018 report from the CDC, the number of American kids who haven’t received any vaccinations has grown by a full percentage point since the turn of the century. In 2001, just .3 percent of kids were completely unvaccinated. By 2015, the number had grown to 1.3 percent.

That rise has led to an increase in doctors turning away families who refuse vaccines. In 2006, 6 percent of doctors would always turn away families that declined vaccines, according to a 2016 study published by the American Association of Pediatrics. By 2013, that number had nearly doubled to 11.7 percent.

The Pennsylvania Association of School Nurses and Practitioners said in a statement that Metcalfe’s bill is a “punitive measure that penalizes health care providers.”

“These health professionals, who are the first line of defense in protecting our children, would be threatened by the loss of licensure and fines for not complying with the provisions of this bill,” association President Kathy Verbel said. 

Other members of the General Assembly and Gov. Tom Wolf met the proposal with scorn.

“This bill would put children, pregnant women, and vulnerable patients at risk of being exposed to horrific diseases — at the doctor’s office,” Wolf said in a statement. “I urge Pennsylvanians not to follow or believe this false and dangerous rhetoric.”

Rep. Dan Frankel, D-Allegheny, meanwhile, accused Metcalfe of “lending the dignity of his office to the pseudo-science of the anti-vaccination community.” Such an action was “irresponsible at best,” Frankel added.

Under existing Pennsylvania law, parents can decline to have their children vaccinated for personal or religious reasons. Another 16 states have similar provisions, while nearly all states allow at least religious exemptions.

In response to the measles outbreak and Metcalfe’s bill, Frankel said he would introduce a bill requiring parents who seek vaccine exemptions to get a medical brief on the downsides as well as be informed of quarantine plans in case of outbreaks.


  1. Would the representative have the state cover any costs from outbreak started in the office of a doctor forced to accept unvaccinated children under his bill, including the costs to any families whose children were infected with measles or other preventable diseases because of it?

  2. Get rid of this charlatan ASAP. What an ignorant dangerous man he is. We can be fairly certain he’ll be on the wrong side of every issue. Who on earth votes such people into office?

  3. This answer the question I have had for a long time. Metcalfe must have had measles and the 109 degree fever that comes with it melted his brain into a ball of wax. His crazy outlook on everything and everyone now makes sense. His head is just a a big ball of wax with ears. Someone should stick a wick in it and let him melt away.

  4. A few corrections in response to this article:
    1. Dr James Lyons-Weiler did not start an “anti-vaccine” non-profit. The Institute for Pure and Applied Knowledge (IPAK) exists to perform scientific research in the public interest. An organization that publishes peer-reviewed science that is not funded by an industry driven by profit and that challenges the lack of transparency and ethics in current science does not equate to being “anti-vaccine”. Labeling IPAK as “anti-vaccine is the same as concluding that the people of Michigan are “anti-water” for criticizing the fiasco in Flint.

    2. Dr. Lyons-Weiler has never stated he is “anti-vaccine”. Rather he has declared he is vaccine risk aware, which every adult should be. All medical procedures come with risk and vaccines are no exception. In 2018, there were over 62,000 reported adverse events and according to a Harvard-Pilgrim study, that was commissioned by the CDC, it is estimated that less than 1% are ever reported. Over $4.1 billion been paid out for vaccine injury by the U.S. Government in what is known as “Vaccine Court” because of the 1986 National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act which gave protection to vaccine manufacturers, so they cannot be held liable for their products.

    HRSA Data and Statistics – Vaccine Injury Compensation Program

    VAERS Data Sets

    Electronic Support for Public Health–Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (ESP:VAERS)

    3. The CDC’s conclusion that “vaccines do not cause autism” is based on observational/association studies that are not designed to test of rule out causation and of only ONE vaccine, the MMR vaccine. It is impossible to conclude that vaccines (plural) do not cause autism when no studies are referenced comparing vaccinated to fully unvaccinated children, especially since children now receive up to 38 doses of 14 vaccines by age 2, and are vaccinated on the first day of life.

    4. Every human being including every parent making decisions on behalf of their child has the right to fully informed consent. This is protected by the Nuremberg Code, the National Research Act and is to be upheld by the promise to “first do no harm”. Vaccines are not 100% effective and come with the risk of injury including death. Every vaccine package insert lists the adverse events associated with those vaccines. Vaccines do not undergo randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled studies and thus to not have an established safety profile. They have been declared “unavoidably unsafe” by U.S. Law. And some vaccines are a complete failure (i.e. the acellular pertussis vaccine) and some are at best 40% effective (the flu vaccine). The right to choose to vaccinate or to not vaccinate is the right of every parent and individual. Parents should not be penalized for requiring their physicians to provide informed consent (and physicians should be able to do so) without the risk of being dismissed from the practice.

    Nuremberg Code

    ICAN Reply: Re: HHS Vaccine Safety Responsibilities and Notice Pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 300aa-31

    Bruesewitz vs. Wyeth

    The 112-Year Odyssey of Pertussis and Pertussis Vaccines-Mistakes Made and Implications for the Future

    Acellular pertussis vaccines protect against disease but fail to prevent infection and transmission in a nonhuman primate model.

    Effectiveness of Seasonal Flu Vaccines from the 2004-2018 Flu Seasons

  5. Obviously those whose children died or were permanently injured by a vaccine would be very grateful to him for his defense of their basic medical rights.
    Interesting that the doctors don’t want healthy unvaccinated children in their practice.So a child with no Hep B vaccine; kicked out of the practice because ..”safety”?Yet a child with an actual active Hep B infection can’t be kicked out because they are covered against discrimination by the Disability Rights act. So , who is more infectious? A child with Hep B infection, who is allowed in the practice, or a child without a Hep B shot who is kicked out? ( Same goes for school, by the way. A kid with a hep B infection can’t be kicked out).
    I assume the Doctors also plan to refuse to treat anyone who is vaccinated who comes down with any infectious disease, because they too could spread it to patients in the room? Or is there some special reason I am missing as to why healthy noninfectious unvaccinated children should be denied all medical care, but infectious people who have been vaccinated still get care and can of course infect everyone else in the waiting room with any of a huge selection of diseases, many of which we don’t or can’t vaccinate for?

    Good to see that dedication to the Hippocratic oath being shown there. And of course, the basic principle of informed medical consent and right to choose, not forgetting the absolute lack of compassion being shown for the vaccine injured or vaccine killed. ( Holly Stavola was killed by the MMR at age 5, and has a website dedicated to her memory, if you need examples.) Certainly, vaccinate as often as you wish if you choose, but also learn to respect the basic human medical rights of others.


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