Least religious state could see boost in religious exemptions for vaccines

Oct 6, 2015

PRN

By Dave Gram

Parents in America’s least devout state may be forced to find religion if they want to exempt their kids from getting vaccinated.

Vermont earlier this year became the first state to remove a philosophical exemption allowing parents to skip the immunizations required to enroll in school but keep the religious exemption in place.

And while some states require evidence — a statement of religious beliefs, for instance — to support the claim that a child should be exempt for religious reasons, Vermont requires only checking a box on a form next to the word “religious.”

“The vast majority who used the philosophical exemption are planning to or are being forced to use the religious exemption,” said Jennifer Stella, president of the Vermont Coalition for Vaccine Choice.

Vermont, which historically has had one of the country’s lowest rates of students fully compliant with the recommended vaccination schedule, is the first state to preserve the religious exemption while doing away with the philosophical one, according to research complied by the National Conference of State Legislatures and the National Vaccine Information Center. Earlier this summer, California joined West Virginia and Mississippi as the only states without any personal belief exemption.

Because Vermont is first down this particular path, there’s no answer to the question of whether states see a new-found interest in religion upon removing the philosophical exemption. But Shawn Venner and Aedan Scribner, who are raising their 8-month-old daughter, Zelda, in Cabot, said the issue may spark a revival.


Read the full article by clicking the name of the source below.

13 comments on “Least religious state could see boost in religious exemptions for vaccines

  • Op – Vermont earlier this year became the first state to remove a philosophical exemption allowing parents to skip the immunizations required to enroll in school but keep the religious exemption in place.

    I thought being an anti-vaxer was a religion!!
    It’s certainly not a rational way of thinking!



    Report abuse

  • Once again society both undermines the safety of all (particularly in this case those most vulnerable to immunological attack such as unimmunized babies, those with AIDS, cancer patients undergoing chemo etc.) to please those of faith. Same thing has essentially happened here in Australia, a very sensible legislation requiring school students to be immunized was given no other but religious exemptions. Have these politicians never heard of herd immunity?



    Report abuse

  • “…Vermont requires only checking a box…” This statement appears to assume an inadequate procedure. It is not. Although offering a “religious exemption” to vaccination is totally ridiculous and on shaky legal ground, this is the best way to go about it since the courts have ruled that it is unconstitutional to require any test for religious belief.

    I recommend this excellent analysis: “THE RELIGIOUS AND PHILOSOPHICAL EXEMPTIONS TO STATE-COMPELLED VACCINATION: CONSTITUTIONAL AND OTHER CHALLENGES” by Alicia Novak, University of Pennsylvania Journal of Constitutional Law, April 2005.



    Report abuse

  • Reckless Monkey
    Oct 6, 2015 at 7:47 pm

    Have these politicians never heard of herd immunity?

    I think some chicken at the prospect of losing votes, and wish to avoid public conflicts with deluded fanatics.
    There are others whose god-delusions are terrified at the prospect of the population acquiring a herd immunity to the god-virus!



    Report abuse

  • Move Toward General Compulsory Vaccination?

    I think that compulsory vaccination can only be justified under the most dire circumstances such as an epidemic or pandemic and this brings the routinization of mass compulsory vaccinations of the general population closer than ever. While not supporting exemptions on religious or philosophical grounds I nonetheless think that laws requiring compulsory immunisation give too much power to corporate bodies and could easily be abused by the pharmaceutical industry and the security establishment for more cynical reasons.



    Report abuse

  • 7
    fadeordraw says:

    I suppose you’re also against gun control for basically the same paranoid reasons. Get your kids vaccinated against common kid diseases. There’s lots of science and years of history. What’s interesting in the US is the need to pursue compulsory vaccination. Only in isolated instances in other developed countries do parents, for whatever reasons, not have their kids accordingly vaccinated.



    Report abuse

  • Hi Ipse Dixit,

    Vaccination can be a headed issue, I disagree with you here and because I feel it is an important issue I’m going spend some time unpacking exactly why. I’m a bit ASD so I might come across as combative or arrogant (or so my wife tells me 😉 ) please understand that is not my intent here and not how I feel or felt reading your comment, I just disagree. So hopefully with that cleared up…

    I think that compulsory vaccination can only be justified under the most dire circumstances such as an epidemic or pandemic

    General compulsory Vaccination is there to avoid epidemics and pandemics. Waiting until after one appears is both going to be far more expensive in terms of health, lost income, deaths and associated costs and dealing with already underfunded health systems suddenly dealing with epidemics. Consider for example the addition risk to cancer patents visiting hospitals while undergoing treatments which destroy almost all their white blood cells? while a pandemic is occurring. That is just one example I could give other scenarios where prevention is clearly cheaper than the cure.

    I nonetheless think that laws requiring compulsory immunisation give too much power to corporate bodies and could easily be abused by the pharmaceutical industry and the security establishment for more cynical reasons.

    I’m not saying there is no reason to be cynical about the pharmaceutical industry, but I’m sure that just means we as voters need to take some responsibility to vote for local members who have common sense when it comes to these issues. Would you suggest that say compulsory education is bad because it gives the opportunity for the Catholic school system to gain power through indoctrination of our children? Of that the mandatory fitting of seat belts is bad because it gives the car industry the ability to charge more money for their products? Again I could give many examples where legislation costs us money but less that not dealing with the issues.

    The facts are not enough people are voluntarily getting vaccinated for disease’s we know are preventable an life threatening, hooping cough, measles, polio etc. This is why governments are beginning to move towards mandating vaccination for the public good. And even if you are right and there is a conspiracy for big phama to abuse the situation for profit does your suspicion outweigh the science in relation to lives saved by these vaccinations?

    We know what hooping cough does to a new born baby, we know what polio can do, we know what measles can do and to how many. Does your concerns outweigh their right to live? How many are you prepared to watch die so that big phama doesn’t profit? Do you have any evidence that they will start mandating unnecessary vaccinations? That the medical boards are not capable of working out if government subsidy is necessary based upon the clinical evidence of vaccines?

    Additionaly vaccination in most western countries is fairly high (getting to about 90% in Australia overall but some cohorts it is lower and in some areas it is lower) so at best the pharmaceutical industry can expect a small increase, they’ll never get better than 100% of the population.

    As I see it the problem is not the overall percentage but that there are geographical populations (towns-states) where the vaccination rate is lower, also some diseases are poorly vaccinated against – the adult population has a very low level of hooping cough vaccination, this puts every baby at risk and while the vast majority never do, it only takes one immunized adult to carry the infection onto a baby. Mandatory vaccination like mandatory education should be standard, any concerns you have about big pharma (and I’m somewhat sympathetic on that count) should be taken into consideration after the safety of the citizens is ensured. Or during, it is quite a process in this country to get a medicine covered by medicare (subsidized by government) and that is after passing all the relevant clinical trials.

    Another problem I see in your argument is that you are leaving choice in the hands of people who may not be in any position to make judgments. In Australia, vaccination is freely available so my taxes cover it. We all pay to have each other covered. If you are allowing people to not vaccinate I can only assume that this choice is being made in a Country where vaccination is not free? If this is the case then it is likely you’ll have poor towns with poor vaccination levels and wealthier towns with higher levels. Who decides what is the priority? Do I vaccinate my child against hooping cough but because I think measles is harmless forget that one? Or do I choose not to vaccinate against Polio because few in the west have got it and therefore I don’t need to worry, until some traveler from a country that still has it brings it back and the population which no longer has herd immunity reinfects a country that had spend significant amounts removing it from the country? You also need to remember that ensuring the vaccination of everyone protects you as well, we all share the same air, you cannot put a fence around your body to keep the poor out. I can drive a safe car if I can afford it, that protects me, but having unvaccinated people around either because they are too poor or too stupid to take advantage is equivalent to letting some people drive around the streets in tanks, my Volvo won’t do me any good at all if they accidentally run over me.

    If I had my way all medical research would be government funded and all results public domain and free for anyone in the world to use to manufacture vaccines. There would be no such thing as big phama and free trade agreement would only be made with countries that had similar open models. I’d happily increase my tax dollars to do this in the same sense I’m happy to pay for roads, clean water and hospitals, however it’s an argument I’m not likely to win so in the meantime I’m not prepared to watch people die unnecessarily.

    I think you should look at the issue of Big Phama and the issue of mandatory vaccination separately, until you can shown me a vaccine being shoved down my throat that is genuinely ineffective.

    regards



    Report abuse

  • To distinguish between one person’s religious beliefs and another’s strongly held philosophical positions, as if one is more important than the other, seems a little silly to me. But that is the world we live in, where established religions still hold some kind of privileged position. Still, if it offers choice to people that otherwise wouldn’t have one, in regards to vaccination, then I see it as a positive.



    Report abuse

  • Ipse Dixit- good point. I’m always surprised at how people trust governments and corporations in some areas with their life but in other areas deem them incompetent or downright evil. There is great room for trickery when it comes to something being injected into people’s bloodstream. It’s strange when those who aren’t fully trusting in the corporatocracy that manages the “health” industry are deemed “paranoid”. Pretty laughable for anyone with the faintest grip on human behavior and history.



    Report abuse

  • I don’t know what the problem is. Australia has had a regime of compulsory vaccination of children going back to the sixties. Last time I looked, I didn’t have two heads. Australia may be unique in that we’ve always had a governments which was basically trustworthy and these issues you speak of, are not on our radar.

    I can remember in the 1960’s when the whole school, 800 kids, would walk down to the town hall, about a kilometre away, and we would all line up and get jabs in both arms, then walk back to school. It was just… well….. normal.



    Report abuse

  • Hi Sharka,

    I’d be more than willing to suspect Big Pharma or my governments potential complicity on this score, if there was any evidence it was happening, which thus far I have not seen presented. I have seen scientific fraud presented by the likes of Wakefield, I have seen numerous celebrities backing his claims and making many others but I have not seen any real evidence that this is happening.

    Until such evidence is presented then opening up the whole population to known and scientifically established risks is risking the lives of the most vulnerable in our society for no good reason. I’d really be right on board if you have any evidence that my government is supporting Big Pharma in giving unnecessary vaccines. Do you have any? If not then it seems to me that giving religious exemptions for say not giving everyone (or anything other than legitimate medical exemptions) is putting those who cannot for medical or age related reasons at significant risk. So where is your evidence that Big Pharma is actually involved in a conspiracy around any of the scheduled vaccines? If this is the case in your country then I hope you are a voter.

    What yours and Ipse Dixit comments seem to be saying is that you don’t want mandatory vaccination on the off chance that your government will force vaccinations that don’t work onto the population. Now I may be mis-characterizing your posts, if so I apologize.

    Do you actually have any evidence that this is actually occurring or are you willing to risk our whole immunization system (and therefore the many thousands of lives saved each year by it) on a hunch?



    Report abuse

  • Just one more thing in relation to your post above,

    There is great room for trickery when it comes to something being injected into people’s bloodstream. It’s strange when those who aren’t fully trusting in the corporatocracy that manages the “health” industry are deemed “paranoid”. Pretty laughable for anyone with the faintest grip on human behavior and history.

    Okay, so for what you are saying to be true, GP’s who see families for often much of their lives, never notice a bunch of people coming in with diseases that should have been covered by the vaccinations they have given. All the nurses and health professionals out there must also be in the conspiracy. All of the medical researchers who spend their careers trying to find cures for diseases must likewise all be complicit in this conspiracy, these are all people with medical training which generally requires a high standard of education to acquire particularly in the sciences, are you implying that all this health professionals are tricked by these vaccinations. As must all the scientists involved in refereeing the studies in the peer review process.

    Now I am aware of certain problems in this regard with medicine and big phama, but most governments require quite a bit of lobbying before they put a drug on medicare or in terms of mandatory vaccination schedule even more (because they have to give it to everyone). That’s an awful lot of normal people with high level scientific educations being tricked. I don’t have to trust the government alone, I trust it to a degree, I trust my GP to a degree, I trust the people working at the vaccination clinics to a degree, I trust the medical scientists to a degree, and when they all line up and say the same thing I trust them as much as I can trust anything, certainly more than trusting my family or me won’t get polio, hooping cough, the measles, mumps and rubella, etc. without the vaccination of almost the entire population, and there is mountains of evidence to back this view up.



    Report abuse

Leave a Reply

View our comment policy.