While we at ACSH have long been working to promote increased immunization rates, lawmakers in many states are contemplating a move in the opposite direction. Seven states are currently considering bills that would make it easier for parents to have their kids skip important childhood vaccinations.
Currently, all states except for West Virginia, Mississippi, and Washington D.C. allow parents to exempt their children from vaccines that are required by schools due to religious beliefs. Additionally, 19 states allow philosophical exemptions for required childhood vaccinations. Now, West Virginia and Mississippi, in addition to five more states, are considering joining the ranks of those that permit such philosophical exemptions.
As Diane Peterson, associate director at the Immunization Action Coalition, says, That s not a move in the right direction. ACSH's Dr. Elizabeth Whelan wholeheartedly agrees. If these bills pass, parents will keep their kids from getting vaccinated for whatever reasons they choose, she says. This will put not only their own children, but also the rest of the school population, at risk of diseases that are entirely preventable and that can be dangerous for young people. There need to be consequences for people who refuse to be vaccinated.