In a report in Vaccine NewsDaily, seven states mulling legislation to skip mandatory immunizations, which would allow parents a “philosophical exemption” to mandatory vaccinations. In other words, this legislation would allow parents who listen to the anti-vaccination lunatics to refuse vaccines that prevent harm to their children, but worse yet harm to others who may not be immune to these infections.
[pullquote]measles cases in the nonexempt population increases significantly when exposed to an exemptor group[/pullquote]
Right now, only West Virginia, Mississippi and DC do not allow religious exemptions to mandatory vaccinations. As an aside, Mississippi is one of the most conservative states well within the so-called Bible Belt, so it’s surprising that they lack such an exemption. Twenty states allow exemptions for philosophical reasons: Arizona, Arkansas, Idaho, Louisiana, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, California, Colorado, Ohio, Oklahoma, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Washington, and Wisconsin. In these states, parents can refuse to vaccinate their children for any reason including believing that vaccinations cause autism or even thinking it violates their rights as Americans. Some of these states make parents who have don’t vaccinate for philosophical exemptions civilly liable for any harm done to others.
The consequences of reducing vaccination rates are obvious–unvaccinated children are at greater risk of catching and spreading vaccine-preventable diseases. For example, in a study published in JAMA, Individual and Community Risks of Measles and Pertussis Associated With Personal Exemptions to Immunization, philosophical exempted children (called exemptors) were 22.2 times more likely to acquire measles and 5.9 times more likely to acquire pertussis (whooping cough). Other studies have shown that measles cases in the nonexempt population increases significantly when exposed to an exemptor group.
The cost to society for increased infections from these childhood diseases is substantial. In 2010, vaccine-preventable diseases in unvaccinated children cost the taxpayers of Colorado over $30 million in health care costs. This cost, of course, thoroughly demolishes the anti-vaccination lunacy that claims that their choice has no effect on anyone else.
I hope these legislatures back away from allowing philosophical exemptions. If parents want a free education for their children, then there should be NO choice other than having their children up-to-date on all vaccinations.