Tag: personal belief exemptions

Why Are States Eliminating Religious Exemptions for Immunizations?

While all states continue to have medical exemptions to getting vaccinated, more and more are eliminating their religious exemptions.

New York is one of the states that is eliminating their religious exemptions for vaccines.
New York is one of the states that is eliminating their religious exemptions for vaccines.

Do you find that surprising?

Why Are States Eliminating Religious Exemptions for Immunizations?

If you do, it might change your mind once you realize that no major religion is actually against immunizations.

“One is morally free to use the vaccine regardless of its historical association with abortion. The reason is that the risk to public health, if one chooses not to vaccinate, outweighs the legitimate concern about the origins of the vaccine. This is especially important for parents, who have a moral obligation to protect the life and health of their children and those around them.”

The National Catholic Bioethics Center FAQ on the Use of Vaccines

In fact, nearly all religions actively support getting kids vaccinated and protected. That makes sense, as vaccines are safe, with few risks, and unvaccinated kids are at increased risk to get a vaccine-preventable disease and put other kids at risk too.

So why do folks get religious exemptions?

Connecticut is another state that is considering eliminating religious exemptions for vaccines.
Connecticut is another state that is considering eliminating religious exemptions for vaccines.

More and more, we are seeing parents abuse religious exemptions, using them as a personal belief exemption because they just don’t want to vaccinate their kids.

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The History of Vaccine Exemptions

As we are starting to see some states get rid of their exemptions with new vaccine laws, it is important to understand that many non-medical exemptions came on the scene relatively recently.

After vaccine mandates to start school helped eliminate measles in the United States, over just a few years, from 1998 to 2000, 15 states added personal belief vaccine exemptions. Texas and Arkansas added theirs a little later, during the 2003-04 school year.

The History of Vaccine Exemptions

What happened in 1998 that made state lawmakers in 15 states allow parents to use personal belief vaccine exemptions to opt out of vaccinating and protecting their kids?

Andrew Wakefield happened in 1998...
Andrew Wakefield happened in 1998…

Oh yeah, that’s when Andrew Wakefield published his infamous paper in Lancet that was later retracted.

That’s right, these exemptions had their origins in perhaps the biggest anti-vaccine myth of them all!

Not that there weren’t warnings. Many of us knew adding the exemptions was a bad idea at the time…

The Austin American Statesman published an editorial in 2003 urging Legislators to fix the mess they had just created.
The Austin American Statesman published an editorial in 2003 urging Legislators to fix the mess they had just created.

And now, here we are with rising rates of vaccine-preventable disease as folks use and abuse their exemptions.

So while you are thinking about whether or not your state legislators should be taking away your personal belief vaccine exemption, a better question would likely be why they added them in the first place.

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A Legislative Guide to Advocating for Stronger Vaccine Laws

Having to get vaccinated to attend school isn’t a new idea.

In 1827, Boston mandated that all children attending public school must receive the smallpox vaccine.

Believe it or not, it wasn’t until the 1980-81 school year that there were laws in all 50 states mandating that children receive vaccinations before starting school. The smallpox vaccine wasn’t one of them…

A Legislative Guide to Advocating for Stronger Vaccine Laws

Not surprisingly, as vaccines did their job and rates of vaccine-preventable diseases dropped, politicians were able to weaken our vaccine laws.

Over just a few years, from 1998 to 2000, 15 states added personal belief vaccine exemptions!

We are now paying the price, with increases of vaccine-preventable diseases among clusters of intentionally unvaccinated children whose parents claim non-medical vaccine exemptions.

And that’s why we are seeing more and more states work to strengthen their vaccine laws.

Legislators who want to combat vaccine exemption abuse should enact laws that make it clear that:

  • medical exemptions are based on ACIP guidelines, current accepted medical practice, and evidence-based medicine – not anecdotes
  • medical exemptions should be reviewed and approved by the State Epidemiologist, Deputy State Epidemiologist, or other designated professionals at the health department
  • religious exemptions, if included at all, should specifically exclude philosophical exemptions and must reflect a sincere religious belief
  • philosophical exemptions, if included at all, should require some degree of education against the myths and misinformation that scares parents away from vaccinating their kids
  • exempted students will be excluded from school during outbreaks
  • exemptions should include a signed affidavit that is notarized
  • exemptions should be recertified each year
  • most exemptions are temporary
  • a separate exemption application should be required for each vaccine
  • exemption rates should be tracked at the school level and should be posted on school websites

Getting an exemption shouldn’t be easier than getting vaccinated!

Become an advocate and help get more kids vaccinated. You can also help stop bad vaccine laws from being enacted in your state, including some that would make it even easier to get an exemption.

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Are Parents Faking Their Child’s Vaccine Records?

In 2015, California passed a vaccine law that removed all non-medical exemptions to getting vaccinated.

What was the response?

More kids got vaccinated.

Are Parents Faking Their Child’s Vaccine Records?

Not all of them though.

Shortly after the passage of SB277 we quickly learned of one way that parents were trying to get around the law – fake vaccine exemptions.

That’s right. Some doctors were selling fake vaccine exemptions using bogus medical symptoms, histories, and conditions.

And apparently, now that fake vaccine exemptions are getting harder to come by, some parents are simply trying to fake their child’s immunization records.

While I doubt a lot of people are faking their records, some probably are.

Some have already been caught forging their child’s vaccine records because their intentionally unvaccinated kids (who were supposed to be vaccinated) were involved in outbreaks!

Are those really your only vaccine choices? What about opting to vaccinate and protect your child?

Some others were caught writing fake vaccine exemptions, using forms from one of the doctor’s who notoriously sells fake medical vaccine exemptions!

Surprised?

You shouldn’t be.

This is the modern anti-vaccine movement.

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