US states make opting out of vaccinations harder


More than ten years after a study in The Lancet falsely linked autism to the measles, mumps and rubella triple vaccine, evidence of reduced immunization rates and rising incidence of disease are spurring politicians to try to make up lost ground. 

California has tightened the laws that allow parents in the state to opt out of immunization for their children. It now joins Washington and Vermont in requiring parents who want an exemption to demonstrate that they have received factual information about the risks and benefits of vaccination from a health-care practitioner or the state’s health department. 

New Jersey is also considering a bill to strengthen exemption requirements, and similar legislation in Arizona has died in previous legislative sessions, but may be re-introduced next year. The issue is not a partisan one: bills have sponsors in both parties. And it has been recognized outside the medical community — although the California sponsor, Richard Pan (Democrat), is a paediatrician, most of the legislators have no medical background.

Each US state sets its own vaccination policies, and most will not generally allow children to attend public school unless they have been vaccinated against diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis (whooping cough); hepatitis B; the Haemophilus influenzae bacterium; measles, mumps and rubella; polio; and varicella (chicken pox). However, 20 states — including California, Washington and Vermont — allow exemptions for personal or philosophical belief, and 48 offer religious exemptions. All states permit exemptions for legitimate medical reasons.

But exemption rates are growing. In Washington, 6% of children entering kindergarten in 2010–11 had an exemption; in Vermont, the figure was 6.2%, compared with the US average of 1.5%. In California, exemptions rates rose by 25% between 2008 and 2010.

Written By: Tara Haelle
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  1. ” So shines a good deed in a weary World. “

    Willy Wonka
    (quoting Shakespeare)

  2. This reminds me of a friend who refuses to wear a helmet
    while riding a motorcycle …all because ONCE he heard about a guy who died from
    a broken neck from the helmet strap. He chooses to forget about the countless
    thousands of times where a helmet actually saved lives and prevented serious
    head trauma. What the hell is wrong with people?

  3. It’s actually quite similar to the vaccinations. Even IF it were true there was a remote chance of autism, it would be a small price to pay for the prevention much more (severe) suffering from disease and even death for your child and the entire population. 

  4. Terrible. Don’t people understand. Children don’t want health care!…

    Seriously though, it looks as if they are they only want to make sure the parents are WELL informed before potentially sentencing their children to an early death. I can’t wait to hear Alex Jones say something like this is proof that government wants to sterilize your children.

  5.  ” US states make opting out of vaccinations harder “

    Harder! It should be child abuse not to have your children vaccinated.

  6. That’s really the thing to emphasise, I think, that you are protecting not only yourself but, more importantly, those who are either too young or too frail to be immunised themselves, i.e. strengthening “herd immunity”.

    A PBS documentary (… ) on this topic interviewed a number of parents who had decided not to vaccinate their children. It all came down, as far as I could tell, to the fact that they had  extremely narrow conceptions of “the family” (in other words, the immediate family, including yourself, your spouse and your children). “I don’t think the government can tell me what’s right for my family” was a common refrain.

    And I should add, regarding the picture, shouldn’t someone be covering that poor child’s eyes? :'(

  7. I am certain that if the chinstrap broke his neck, he would be just as dead without one.

    My uncle wouldn’t wear a safety belt for fear of being trapped in an overturned car, submerged in a river.

  8. If  The Lancet falsley linked autism to the vaccine did it publish an apology or any statement refuting it’s original claim?

    Americans have a right to be cautious given the number of times their government has abused their trust.

  9. Going by your statement I’m guessing you don’t know the whole story behind this. I’d suggest reading up on it and I’ll provide some links for you to do so but let’s address something first.

    Majority of Americans probably haven’t even heard of The Lancet so most Americans would probably miss the story about this anyway. Most Americans don’t even know about the name of the ex-doctor behind this whole scandal so again pointless to say anything as it wouldn’t mean anything. Furthermore, even when given the right information and the truth, most Americans will ignore it cause they rather believe Oprah or Jenny McCarthy instead of you know, science.

    So with that in mind allow me to provide you some names, links and some truth.

    Andrew Wakefield is the name of the person behind all this mess. See here:

    He’s not American but British. His experiments were flawed and harmful to patients. His research was retracted from The Lancet  and had his medical licence revoked in the UK. But people still believe him. So he’s making lots of money in the USA still (and probably Australia) giving talks.

    It’s a great thing these laws are passing in the US and hopefully continues into other countries where this cretin and his ideas have spread. His appeal has mostly been with the ‘nature is perfect’ crowd but it has moved into main stream a bit thanks to some celebrities which is where the real problem lies.

    Lastly, it is not just the US which uses this vaccine but the rest of the world. In the majority of the countries getting a vaccine is not an issue. This is a ‘first world’ problem mostly as any third world countries would be scrambling to get the vaccine as they understand reality of no vaccination.

    Lots of Americans like to find reasons to distrust government but few take the time to research into the reality of the story. Conspiracy seems the normal mode of operation there.

  10.  Thanks for the clarification, your right I was unaware of the details of this case. Vaccinations are vital and I am all for those that are essential.   That said, here in France, simply because I have passed a certain age,  I  have the right to a free Flu vaccine every year, which I refuse to take because I consider it not only unnecessary but a shocking  waste of the Social Security’s money. 

  11.  Two questions spring to mind:
    Why is it “unnecessary”?
    Why is it a waste of money to give the vaccine to people of any age , who might, if they catch a nasty variety of flu, spread it to others?

  12. Thousands of retired people like  myself who are not working in crowed offices or taking public transport but are pottering around their gardens,  do not need these vaccines which cost the Socal Security a lot of money .

    With regard to Americans being worried about forced vaccinations, they might be less worried if Bill Gates haden’t said, at TED and elseware, that vaccines would help “population control”  !

  13. Maybe  ‘ The Lancet’ being partially responsible in promoting Andrew Wakefield and his dubious research, should fund the initiative…
    To many journals are getting lazy and pandering to investors…the New Scientist went down that route long ago…and several others seem hell bent on imitating ignorant credulity as an art form.

    ‘ The Lancet’ is by far the highest in profile ‘respectable journal’  to questionably print balderdash without competent peer review.
    Seems circulation in the macro world is more important then the circulation in their head!, buffoons the lot of them.

    I do not find the contribution to the secondary cause of  suffering angst and in some cases death of vulnerable children is in anyway a responsible and lauded position for any journal, they should be thoroughly ashamed of themselves, the editor should have quit and lost a pension or the golden handshake immediately, scandalous.

    I have no respect for the religious, I have even less for the ones that are supposed to know better, but obviously don’t.

  14. All you people weighing up the pros and cons of the risk are missing the point. The point is that some parents are trying to opt out by claiming that their stupid sky leprechaun told them not to vaccinate, and California is saying “not good enough; where’s your evidence?” That is where the battle is, and this time we’re winning it. I would like to see more states to adopt the position that if your reasons are based on supernatural woo then those reasons are invalid.

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