Up@dawn 2.0

Thursday, April 13, 2017

My First Installment: Religions and Vaccination Exemption.

Greetings my classmates,
First of all, and before I start presenting my first installment, I would like to thank Dr. Oliver and you as well for letting me able to be with you during this class online, and that's because of my work schedule and for my family too. 

In this first installment, I am going to discuss and analysis the history of religions and vaccination exemptions. I am also going to address questions about vaccination exemptions and religions, for instance, why is there a religious exemption for vaccination? What's the history of religious exemption of vaccination? And what are the implications for Disease Outbreaks? 

The History of Vaccination Exemption:
In 1855, Massachusetts became the first U.S. state to require vaccination for schoolchildren. At that time, only smallpox vaccine was available. Other states and localities began to pass similar regulations, though the rules were often only spottily enforced. 
The British Vaccination Act of 1898 provided a conscience clause to allow exemptions to mandatory smallpox vaccination. This clause gave rise to the term “conscientious objector,” which later came to refer to those opposed to military service. By the end of 1898, magistrates had issued more than 200,000 vaccination exemptions.
Today in the United States, all states require that children be vaccinated for certain diseases before school entry (the required immunizations vary by state). A variety of exemptions are allowed, depending on state and local regulations. Mississippi and West Virginia offer only medical exemptions to vaccination. In other states, medical, religious, and often philosophical/personal belief exemptions are available. The California legislature passed a law in 2015 that eliminates non-medical exemptions; this will go into effect in mid-2016.

Religious Exemption:
Forty-eight states allow exemptions to vaccination for religious reasons (though this number will drop to 47 once California's legislation goes into effect in mid-2016). Some states statutes indicate that to receive a religious exemption, a family must belong to a religious group with bona fide objections to vaccination. They may, as Iowa does, ask a parent to attest that "immunization conflicts with a genuine and sincere religious belief and that the belief is in fact religious, and not based merely on philosophical, scientific, moral, personal, or medical opposition to immunizations." Other states simply require that a parent sign a form stating that he or she has religious objections to vaccination.
Several legal cases involving the constitutionality of religious exemptions to vaccination have been tried. The rulings have in general upheld the right of states to mandate vaccination in spite of parents’ religious beliefs. At the same time, courts have often found that requiring parents belong to certain religious groups to qualify for religious exemptions violates the Constitution’s Equal Protection clause. The argument is that the Equal Protection clause should protect all people who claim a religious objection to vaccination, not only those who belong to a certain religion with recognized objections.

Personal Belief Exemptions:
Twenty states allow exemptions to children whose parents have philosophical or personal belief objections to vaccination (Vermont and California will be removed from this list when legislation that eliminates the exemption goes into place in mid-2016). In most cases, parents must file a one-time or annual form with a school district attesting to a personal objection to vaccination. In states with all three types of exemptions, personal belief exemptions tend to be most common. And, in states that allow philosophical and personal exemptions from vaccination requirements, such exemptions increased from 0.99 to 2.45% between 1991 and 2004.
A Washington state law that took effect in July 2011 requires that parents seeking vaccination exemptions for their children discuss the benefits and risks of vaccination with a health care provider. The state allows medical, religious, and personal belief exemptions, and has an overall exemption rate of 5.2% in the 2014-15 school year. California and Oregon in recent years have enacted similar requirements. 

From a spiritual standpoint, conscientious freedom is considered defined and discussed in Catholic canon, and states that “Conscience is a judgment of reason whereby the human person recognizes the moral quality of a concrete act that he is going to perform, is in the process of performing or has already completed. In all he says and does, man is obliged to follow faithfully what he knows to be just and right. It is by the judgment of his conscience that man perceives and recognizes the prescription of the divine law.” In even stronger terms, the Catholic Church warns that “a human being must always obey the certain judgment of his conscience. If he were deliberately to act against it, he would condemn himself." 

In my Second Installment: I am going to address “the implications of disease outbreaks and what kind of vaccine exemptions exists in the US” and “the U.S. Supreme Court: Vaccines are “Unavoidably Unsafe”

-Feikin DR, Lezotte DC, Hamman RF, Salmon DA, Chen RT, Hoffman RE. Individual and community risks of measles and pertussis associated with personal exemptions to immunization.
-Washington State Department of Health. Washington State School Immunization Slide Set, 2014-2015 School Year. 2015.


  1. You're welcome, Michael. Your virtual presence has been constructive!

    Comments on your report coming soon.


  2. What do you think of the Iowa requirement that parents must attest that "immunization conflicts with a genuine and sincere religious belief and that the belief is in fact religious, and not based merely on philosophical, scientific, moral, personal, or medical opposition to immunizations." My view is that it's arbitrary to admit religious but not philosophical (etc.) exemptions. Are there good, or at least plausible, reasons for that distinction?