Fear of a child becoming autistic from a vaccine or something in a vaccine has led to parents choosing not vaccinating their children and thus making outbreaks of infectious diseases possible. A story in today’s Associated Press reports that parents are now in effect using religion and even lying about their religious beliefs in order to seek a religious exemption from vaccination for their child:
Twenty-eight states, including Florida, Massachusetts and New York, allow parents to opt out for medical or religious reasons only. Twenty other states, among them California, Pennsylvania, Texas and Ohio, also allow parents to cite personal or philosophical reasons. Mississippi and West Virginia allow exemptions for medical reasons only.
From 2003 to 2007, religious exemptions for kindergartners increased, in some cases doubled or tripled, in 20 of the 28 states that allow only medical or religious exemptions, the AP found. Religious exemptions decreased in three of these states – Nebraska, Wyoming, South Carolina – and were unchanged in five others.
The rate of exemption requests is also increasing.
For example, in Massachusetts, the rate of those seeking exemptions has more than doubled in the past decade – from 0.24 percent, or 210, in 1996 to 0.60 percent, or 474, in 2006.
In Florida, 1,249 children claimed religious exemptions in 2006, almost double the 661 who did so just four years earlier. That was an increase of 0.3 to 0.6 percent of the student population. Georgia, New Hampshire and Alabama saw their rates double in the past four years.
Is seeking a religious exemption from vaccination for a child out of fear of autism doing the wrong thing for the wrong reasons?