Growing Number of Parents Use Religion to Avoid Vaccines
November 10, 2007
Many states are seeing increases in the rate of religious exemptions from vaccinations claimed for kindergarteners, according to a review of states‘ vaccination records and data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention conducted by the Associated Press.
A growing number of parents are claiming religious exemptions to avoid vaccinations for their children because they are skeptical of the shots’ effectiveness or are concerned about potential side effects, including autism.
The number of parents choosing not to vaccinate is still small, as only a few thousand children were not vaccinated, compared with 3.7 million vaccinated, among children who entered kindergarten in 2005.
While all 50 states have immunization requirements, 28 allow parents to opt out for medical or religious reasons. Another 20 states allow parents to opt out for personal or philosophical reasons as well. Mississippi and West Virginia allow parents to opt out for medical reasons only.
In 20 of the 28 states that allow exemptions for medical or religious reasons, religious exemptions have doubled or tripled from 2003 to 2007.
Public health officials say that un-vaccinated children could spread diseases to others or trigger an outbreak that could put the lives of many at risk.