by Jerry Coyne
Forty-eight states in America have laws allowing children who attend public school to do so without being vaccinated—if they have religious reasons. In 19 of those states, you can also avoid vaccination if your exemption is based on philosophical reasons.
Every other kid, save those with medical exemptions—compromised immune systems and the like—must be vaccinated, and for good reason. We know what happens when vaccinations aren’t required, and we’re starting to see the expected epidemics.
West Virginia and Mississippi are the only two states that don’t allow either philosophical or religious exemptions from vaccination. California is poised to join them, as its state Senate just approved a no-exemption billby a wide margin (medical exemptions will still be allowed).
Vermont has just joined the Rationality Crowd, but they didn’t go whole hog, reports Michael Specter in a New Yorker piece, “Vermont says No to the anti-vaccine movement,” The state eliminated philosophical exemptions for vaccinations but also recently mandated labeling for GMO foods, those derived from genetically modified organisms:
Just a year after Vermont became the first state to require labels for products made with genetically modified organisms, Governor Peter Shumlin on Thursday signed an equally controversial but very different kind of legislation: the state has now become the first to remove philosophical exemptions from its vaccination law.
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