It has been over five years since I first shared the map to the National Vaccine Information Center's interactive map of state-by-state vaccine exemption policies. With school kids headed back to school, this is usually the time of year that some states launch the "no shots, no school!" public awareness campaign, so I thought it would be a good time to share this quick reminder.
Every single one of the fifty United States offers at least one option for vaccine exemption. In Mississippi and West Virginia, only medical exemptions are allowed. The other forty-eight states allow for medical as well as religious, and in some states, philosophical exemptions are also allowed. Though I can see the necessity of the "no shots, no school!" campaign from a public health prospective, I find it irritating because it is simply not true.
When you click on your state's link, you'll find all the information for exemptions that the NVIC has been able to collect for your state.
Both of my girls have been fully caught up on vaccinations now, but we did fill out a philosophical exemption when AJ started Pre-K at age 4 here in Oklahoma to allow us to spread out her remaining vaccines throughout that school year. The process was simple and no hassle at all. I started the twins on the standard schedule but they have not had any vaccinations since they were nine months old (they are eighteen months now). Our family history of vaccine injury continues to be the factor that has convinced me to wait until our children are older to receive their vaccinations.
I'm sharing this information with you in neither a pro- or anti-vaccine spirit. I believe the only poor health care choice is an uninformed one, and I also strongly believe in a parents' right and responsibility to make the best possible decision for their own children!
(vaccination photo via El Alvi on Flickr)