Immunization Religious Beliefs
In the battle over compulsory immunization, religious beliefs have been taking center stage for many decades. Forty-eight states already allow exemptions on religious grounds. Court battles challenge compulsory immunization as an unconstitutional practice, while other battles challenge religious exemptions as unconstitutional.
Most states do not have a list of religious beliefs approved for exemptions to immunization. In some cases, the parent either has to present the case in writing or appear in front of a group of officers who will determine whether there is a sincere religious belief that prohibits a vaccination. Some states simply require a valid non-religious philosophical belief or a religious belief. Few states do have a list of established religious beliefs and the person claiming exemption must fall into one of the established categories.
Schools in the United States do have the right to exclude students who are unvaccinated if there is an outbreak of a particular illness the student in question is not vaccinated for. This quite often creates a conflict between individual freedom and public health.
There are many reasons why parents object to immunization other than religious beliefs. Schools and public health officials in many states often wonder whether a parent is invoking religion when the objection to immunization is really based on non-religious principles. For example, Bob Smith believes the government is implanting GPS tracking chips into children under the guise of vaccinations. Smith appeals the compulsory immunization on religious grounds. According to the law in 48 states plus Washington, D.C., officials must honor the exemption request if the request appears to fit within the exemption guidelines.
North Carolina currently exempts 0.025 percent of its school population from immunization. Parents need to submit an exemption request to the school in writing. They do not need to specify their particular religious beliefs that prohibit vaccination. Boulder, Colorado, has a much higher rate of exemptions. This has some officials worried about frequent outbreaks of whooping cough.