What are vaccine exemptions?
There are state laws that establish compulsory vaccination for school children both studying in public and private schools as well as daycare facilities. However, certain exemptions may be offered for religious and personal or conscientious reasons in some states.
What kind of exemptions are there in the USA?
There are three types of exemptions to vaccinations: medical, personal, and religious. All states in America generally allow some types of exemption from both vaccination and re-vaccination. However, an exemption can be given in some states if there is proof of immunity against a certain disease. A citizen’s legal right to be exempted from vaccinations is solely based on one’s state exemption laws, which is usually different from one state to another.
A philosophical, conscientious, or personal exemption is very hard to obtain in the US. However, it is allowed in 18 states. This kind of exemption is for those people who conscientiously object to any types of vaccination. In the states of Oregon and Washington, parents who seek for a personal exemption need to acquire a medical doctor’s signature before filing a vaccination exemption. Parents might also be required to attend an education program about vaccination to discuss the advantages and risks of vaccination.
In the USA, all states are currently required to vaccinate children to prevent certain diseases before they enter school. However, the types of immunization given may still vary in every state. Various exemptions are allowed according to your state and local regulations. Note that there are three states that only offer medical exemptions. They are Mississippi, West Virginia, and California (2016). California Gov. Jerry Brown signed California Senate Bill 277 (SB277), which removes personal and religious exemptions in the state and was effective on July 1, 2016.
Medical exemptions can be given to children or individuals who cannot take shots under any circumstances due to their health condition/s. Such conditions include:
- HIV infection
- Inborn immune defects (Louis-Bar syndrome)
- Steroid therapy that affects your baby's immune response
- Premature babies before they gain the appropriate weight of 2000 kg
- Pregnant women
- Transplantation surgery
- If the shots have already caused serious reactions that led to severe complications
There are some individual cases when your baby is not allowed to have shots. Normally, they are reviewed by a team of qualified doctors. Medical exemptions are available across the 50 states of America.
Religious exemptions are permitted in all states except in West Virginia and Mississippi. This type of exemption is allowed for all religions. However, it can be quite difficult to obtain. The trickiest way of getting this exemption is in New York and New Jersey, where there is a "sincerity test" designed to test how honest and sincere the parents' religious assertion are for refusing a vaccination. This test is conducted by an attorney representing the school or nursery, where you would like to send your child.
Some people believe that to get this type of exemption, they have to be regular members of a particular religious group. Apparently, that is a misconception. You should get proper counseling with your attorney before claiming a religious exemption.
What are the consequences of my refusal from vaccination?
There are a lot of versions about the consequences of your decision. First of all, think twice before claiming an exemption to vaccination, as the majority of those who actually had been against it, deeply regretted their decision later in life. You have to be fully aware of all the possible risks and complications that may happen to your child because of your refusal to vaccinate.
Moreover, you may expose your children to life-threatening conditions when traveling to certain countries where vaccination is a rare occurrence in their local healthcare practice.
The last but not the least, very often, parents with unvaccinated children face the situation when their kids are banned from primary educational establishments due to the absence of the compulsory vaccinations.
Understanding the Ifs, Ands, or Buts
Vaccination can be withheld if the condition of the child demands so. There are two aspects to such situation:
- The parents willingly tell the doctor that they do not consider vaccines safe.
- Sometimes, the health of the baby may make him or her prone to infections, rashes, or sores.
However, these situations are still on a case-to-case basis and have no prior bias involved. It is entirely at the disposal of the doctor to diagnose such ailments and keep the parents informed about the health of their child.
On the whole, vaccinations are beneficial to young babies and children as well as adults. Vaccines are primarily made as precautionary measures against infectious diseases during a span of a few months to years. Shots are usually given at regular intervals. Vaccination helps in developing immunity and to effectively fight back against deadly diseases people might get exposed to during their lifetime. Since vaccinations are a great preventive measure, parents are often counseled in advance about its benefits and effects.
Coming to Terms with Vaccination
Generally, parents want to do everything they can to ensure that their children grow healthy and protected from diseases at all times. One way of protecting your child's health is through vaccination.
Vaccinations are effective and safe, as they have undergone systematic and thorough reviews by a panel of scientists and physicians as well as the federal government to ensure that they are safe.
If your children get sick and if they are unvaccinated, they can further spread the disease to other children, especially to those who are very young to be vaccinated or to those individuals who have a weak immune system such as people with cancer and transplant recipients. Vaccination not only protects the people you love but also others who are immunocompromised.
Coming to terms with the pain, discomfort, and other symptoms after vaccination may not be as easy as it sounds. But think of it as a minuscule price to pay for the future and overall well-being of your children. Vaccinations have been designed and prescribed for some reason after a lot of effort and research put in.