Vaccine Exemptions: Some State Laws
Last December, several visitors to Disneyland in California got an unexpected surprise -- measles. An outbreak of measles started when at least 40 people who visited or worked at the park contracted the disease and spread it to nearly 100 more people in over half a dozen states. The Center for Disease Control declared the outbreak over on April 17, 2015.
Despite measles being almost eradicated in the United States, unvaccinated travelers to and from other countries can bring the disease back. People vaccinated against the disease have little to fear. However, more and more parents are deciding to not vaccinate their children.
In reaction to the outbreak, some states are considering bills that would require all children to be vaccinated.
Objections to Vaccination
Some parents don't vaccinate their children because of personal or religious beliefs. Some claim medical reasons for why their child shouldn't be vaccinated. Many fear that vaccination can cause autism. (There has been no proof of a link between the two. Thanks a lot Jenny McCarthy.)
At this time, all 50 states allow some exemption from laws requiring vaccination for children age four or older. Here are some exemption laws by state:
- Mississippi and West Virginia are the only states to only allow medical exemption from vaccination if vaccination would hurt the child's health.
- Forty-seven states, such as Alabama, Delaware, Connecticut, allow exemption from vaccination based on religious belief.
- Idaho, Maine, Michigan, and fifteen other states allow children to be exempt from vaccination for personal reasons.
Proposed Bills Requiring Vaccination
Because of the outbreak, a few states are considering changes to their vaccination exemption laws.
- California -- California is considering eliminating the personal beliefs and religious exemption to vaccination. If successful, California would join Mississippi and West Virginia, in only allowing medical exemptions to vaccination.
- New Jersey -- New Jersey is considering stricter restrictions on the religious exemption. Previously, parents could just write a note stating that vaccines violate their religion. Under the new restriction, parents would have to explain how and why vaccinations violate their religion and that the belief is widely held, instead of a personal belief.
- Missouri -- A bill has been proposed in Missouri that would require school principals to send letters to parents notifying them of the presence of an unvaccinated child attending their kids' school.
None of these proposed bills have been passed, but we can expect to see some new regulations on vaccines requirements soon. If you are wary of vaccinating your child, an experienced local health care attorney will be able to help you consider what exemptions your child may qualify for.
For more state laws, take a look at our article covering the laws in all fifty states.
- Browse Health Care Lawyers by Location (FindLaw's Lawyer Directory)
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- School Vaccinations and Exemptions: What Parents Need to Know (FindLaw's Law and Daily Life)
- Is It Legal to Not Vaccinate Your Kids? (FindLaw's Law and Daily Life)
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