Anti-Vaccine Community Behind N.C. Chickenpox Outbreak - Do You Support Vaccine Exemptions?
Should parents be able to refuse vaccines for ‘philosophical reasons’?
by Countable | 11.21.18
What's the story?
- At least 36 students have come down with chickenpox in a North Carolina school where many families claim religious exemption from vaccines.
- The Buncombe County Health Department said exemptions from vaccination were a contributing factor to the the state's worst chickenpox outbreak since the vaccine became available more than 20 years ago.
- “[Asheville Waldorf School] follows immunization requirements put in place by the state board of education, but also recognizes that a parent’s decision to immunize their children happens before they enter school,” the school explained in a statement to Blue Ridge Public Radio.
- Jennifer Mullendore, the medical director of Buncombe County, was more blunt: “We want to be clear: Vaccination is the best protection from chickenpox.”
“When we see high numbers of unimmunized children and adults, we know that an illness like chickenpox can spread easily throughout the community—into our playgrounds, grocery stores, and sports teams,” Mullendore said in a news release.
- While scientific evidence shows that vaccines are safe and effective, 18 states currently allow parents to opt-out of vaccinating their children for “philosophical reasons.”
Source: Adapted from Immunization Action Coalition, Feb. 2017 (published by the National Conference of State Legislatures).
What are the laws?
- All 50 states have laws requiring specific vaccines for students.
- All 50 states allow medical exemption to vaccination.
- Every state except Mississippi and West Virginia grant religious exemptions—for example, Christian Scientists believe diseases should be healed through prayer.
- 18 states allow philosophical exemptions for those who object to immunizations because of personal, moral, or other beliefs. This includes the thoroughly-discredited myth that vaccines cause autism.
Which states allow nonmedical exemptions?
- Nonmedical exemptions (NMEs) are permitted in Arkansas, Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Louisiana, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, Utah, Washington, and Wisconsin.
What do you think?
Should more states adopt NMEs? Should states rescind philosophical exemption laws? What should the bar be for a NME? In Virginia, parents can receive a personal exemption only for the HPV vaccine—should NMEs only pertain to certain vaccines? Take action and tell your reps, then share your thoughts below.
(Photo Credit: iStockphoto.com / John-Kelly)
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