Overall, the number of people opting out of vaccinations is on the decline. This is due to the fact that stricter state laws have been implemented. However, the number of people getting non-medical vaccine exemptions is growing in many states. New York, North Carolina, Kentucky, Ohio, Oklahoma, Florida, Iowa and Maryland are the states where the number of vaccine exemptions is increasing. These places are also considered the hot spots of the anti-vaccination movement.
The CDC’s Report on Non-Medical Vaccine Exemptions
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention released a report saying that the number of non-medical vaccine exemptions peaked during the 2013 to 2014 school year. Over 80,000 kindergartners in the United States were exempted from receiving at least one vaccine. That number decreased to 72,000 during the 2015 to 2016 school year. California has some of the strictest vaccination laws in the country. People are no longer able to opt out of vaccines due to their personal belief.
In Vermont, people are no longer able to opt out of vaccines due to philosophical beliefs. There have always been medical exemptions available for people who cannot get vaccines due to compromised immune systems. The risks of vaccination may outweigh the benefits if a person has a pre-existing condition that compromises their immune system. However, many states have allowed people to opt out of vaccines due to religious and personal beliefs.
Every state has its own vaccination requirements. However, every state requires that people get the measles, tetanus, pertussis, diphtheria and rubella vaccines. The American Academy of Pediatrics has stated that every state should eliminate non-medical exemptions. They stated that allowing people to opt out of vaccination is wrong for public health, individual and ethical reasons. If people opt out of vaccinations, then the risk of an outbreak of a deadly disease increases drastically. West Virginia, California and Mississippi are currently the only states that have eliminated all non-medical exemptions.
Molly Howell is the immunization program manager in North Dakota. She has stated that North Dakota has some of the most lax vaccination laws in the country. It is relatively easy to get a non-medical exemption in this state. The number of people getting a non-medical exemption increased from 0.8 to 3 percent in 2016. All one has to do is fill out a form and get it signed by a physician.
Many parents have taken advantage of this option. There are some states that allow vaccine exemptions, but they require that unvaccinated children stay home from school during a breakout. They are also required to get a signature from a physician.
Dr. Jesse Heckell is a pediatrician. He is also a researcher that co-authored a report on vaccine hesitancy back in 2016. He stated that the anti-vaccination groups are encouraging people to get vaccine exemptions. He also stated that these groups make claims that have been debunked by science. However, anti-vaccine groups stand strong in their belief that the benefits of vaccination do not outweigh the risks.
Although state immunization managers are carefully tracking the numbers, they have stated that they have not started to worry yet. In Connecticut, the number of people getting non-medical exemptions increased from 0.8 to 1.7 percent over a six-year period. Mike Bolduc is the immunization manager in 2017. He stated that the numbers are something that he is going to keep his eye on.
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