Vaccine Exemptions Expanding in Fewer States

For vaccines to work, 92 percent of a population must be immunized against the disease

herd on bikes

Fewer US families have opted out of school-required immunizations in recent years, in part to stricter state laws.

All 50 states have legislation requiring specified vaccines for students. Although exemptions vary from state to state, all school immunization laws grant exemptions to children for medical reasons.

But data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicate that, while non-medical exemptions (religious and philosophical) are on the decline nationally, they’re rising in certain states.

Almost all states grant religious exemptions for people who have religious beliefs against immunizations. Currently, 18 states allow philosophical exemptions for those who object to immunizations because of personal, moral or other beliefs.

Connecticut, Florida, Iowa, Kentucky, Maryland, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, and Virginia have reported an increase of non-medical exemptions.

The American Academy of Pediatrics last year issued a position statement urging all states to eliminate non-medical vaccine exemptions, writing that such exemptions are “inappropriate for individual, public health, and ethical reasons.”

As it stands, all but three states, Mississippi, California, and West Virginia, still allow philosophical and/or religious exemptions.

Some state laws allow individuals to be exempted from vaccination or re-vaccination, if proof of existing immunity for certain diseases can be shown.

If a person has recovered from the natural disease or has been vaccinated, a blood test may indicate that there are enough naturally acquired or vaccine acquired antibodies to “prove” immunity to a particular disease.

Vaccines only work if enough people in a community are vaccinated, this is what the CDC defines as ‘herd immunity”.

The CDC says vaccines are a kind of ‘immunity banking’, something an individual may need at a future point in their life.

World Health Organization (WHO) researchers have found that, for vaccines to work, 92 percent or more of a population must be immunized against the disease.

The WHO reports for highly contagious viruses, it takes 95 percent to protect an entire community.