By Sarah Pulliam Bailey
Recent measles outbreaks in states such as Washington, New York and New Jersey have cast a spotlight on a group of Americans who receive exemptions from immunizing their children on the grounds that the vaccines violate their religious freedoms.
Now the states that suffered outbreaks are taking aim at those exemptions. In recent weeks, lawmakers in the New Jersey, New York, Iowa, Maine and Vermont state legislatures have proposed eliminating religious exemptions for vaccines. A Washington state representative has proposed tightening the state’s religious exemption while eliminating a separate law that allows for a personal or philosophical exemption from immunization.
Vaccination proponents and anti-vaccination activists are watching to see whether some states will follow California, which got rid of religious and personal exemptions for vaccines after a Disneyland-linked outbreak of measles that began in 2014. The only students there who can go without a vaccination without a doctor’s signature are those who are home-schooled.
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