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Are We Losing the Right to Vaccine Exemptions?


no shot no school

Last Sunday my family and I were driving through Santa Monica and saw this sign: NO SHOT = NO SCHOOL.  I just had to take a pic. Don’t be fooled folks: here in California vaccine exemptions are still quite legal, and despite the message of this sign, your children can attend school if they haven’t had their shots.

Under the California School Immunization Law (California Health and Safety Code, Sections 120325-120375), children are required to receive certain immunizations in order to attend public and private elementary and secondary schools, child care centers, family day care homes, nursery schools, day nurseries and developmental centers.

The California School Immunization Law also requires schools, child care centers, and family child care homes to enforce immunization requirements, maintain immunization records of all children enrolled, and submit reports to the local health department… Regulations are being updated to incorporate the new Tdap requirement.

The exemptions permitted by California law are:

  • Medical Exemption
    A licensed physician (MD or DO) who feels a vaccine is not indicated for a student because of medical reasons should submit to the school (via the patient’s family as needed) a written statement documenting the medical exemption. A form that can assist in this process is available to physicians. The school will place a copy of the completed statement in the student’s file.
  • Personal Beliefs Exemption
    A parent or guardian may have a child exempted from required immunizations if immunization is contrary to his/her beliefs. Schools have standardized procedures for parents and guardians who request a personal beliefs exemption. (source)

In California, the vaccine forms provided schools usually conveniently omit the flip side of the form that include the Personal Belief Affidavit.  You can print the Vaccine Exemption Form here, or simply write yours by hand.

New Law Will Make Vaccine Exemptions More Tedious for Parents

On September 29, 2012, California Governor Jerry Brown signed a law that will go into effect January 2014.

This new law will require that parents who wish to exercise their right to a personal belief vaccine exemption must first “consult with a licensed healthcare provider in order to receive the exemption. Under AB 2109, the provider would sign a form attesting that he or she informed that parent about the risks and benefits of vaccination and the risks of vaccine-preventable diseases. The parent would sign the form as well.” (source)

So basically, the government is making it harder to waive mandatory vaccinations by simply signing a form. Though I’m pro-vaccine choice, my only problem with this is that this gives doctors an opportunity to bully parents into vaccinations, rather than giving them a balanced education regarding their choices.

This new law means it’s more important than ever that parents educate themselves regarding their vaccine options for their children.

What About Vaccine Exemptions in Other States?

This map from the National Vaccine Information Center illustrates the types of exemptions allowed in the various U.S. States.

Vaccine Exemption Map by State

As you can see, every state currently allows medical exemption, and with the exception of Mississippi and West Virginia, all other states also have a religious and/or philosophical exemption as well.

If you choose not to vaccinate or to follow a schedule other than that recommended vaccine policy makers, it is especially important to understand your rights and the laws governing the state in which you live so that you do not inadvertently break the law.

The Nation Vaccine Information Center provides a clear and detailed explanation of specificvaccine exemptions throughout the U.S. here.

[NOTE: If you choose to vaccinate your children, I have absolutely no problem with your choice. Ido however believe that parents should have the right to choose, and this post is intended to empower that choice.]

no shot no school shotWhat do you think of the new California law requiring a doctor signature for vaccine exemptions?

Have you been bullied into vaccinating your kids by their school or doctor?

Have you had a positive experience with vaccination exemptions?

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