New vaccines and new school years, these are the things that stoke the fires of the vaccine exemption discussion. Each year as parents prepare to send their children back to school, they are inundated by schools and doctor’s offices to be sure to remain current on vaccines. But what if you choose not to? Can you choose not to? 

Exemptions in Each State

In every state in the U.S., there is at least one method of vaccine exemption: medical. For many states, there are two or three: medical, religious, and possibly philosophical. Each of those exemptions require different paperwork and possibly a signature. To find out which exemptions are available in your state, reference the map below:

A map of the United States with vaccine needles in each state displaying which type of exemption is available

For more information on your state’s laws and exemption options, follow the link and click on your state to read more.¹

Medical exemptions typically require a doctor to sign a document stating the vaccine risks versus benefits are too great for the patient. Religious exemptions do not need to follow doctrine within a mainstream religion. Religion is a very personal concept, and many states leave room for that within the religious exemption. In several states a religious leader’s signature isn’t needed. Remember, in the U.S. we have religious protections in the first amendment; these rights cannot be violated without penalty. Philosophical reasons would fall under a personal belief or conviction without being tied to a religion. This is sometimes referred to as moral conviction or another term. Simply stated, it’s for a reason of belief or conscience that isn’t defined under someone’s religious beliefs.

Informed Consent

At The Wellness Way, we are advocates for informed consent.  You, as the patient and the parent, have the autonomy, rights, and responsibilities to make decisions regarding your family’s healthcare needs. In order to make an educated, informed decision, you need to know not only what your state’s laws are, but also what informed consent is and what it isn’t. There are four principles in regards to informed consent:

  • You must have the capacity (or ability) to make the decision.
  • The medical provider must disclose information on the treatment, test, or procedure in question, including the expected benefits and risks, and the likelihood (or probability) that the benefits and risks will occur.
  • You must comprehend the relevant information.
  • You must voluntarily grant consent, without coercion or duress.²

 The principle of disclosure is further explained:

 In order for you to give your informed consent for treatment or tests, the doctor or health care provider must give (or disclose) to you enough information so that you can make an informed decision. It is not necessary or expected that you would receive every detail of the test, treatment, or procedure. You need only the information that would be expected by a reasonable person to make an intelligent decision. This information should include the risks and likelihood (or probability) of each of the risks and the benefits, and likelihood (or probability) of benefit. Any questions you have should be fully explained, in language and terminology that you can understand.² (emphasis added)

You have the right to ask questions, take time away from the doctor’s office to do your research, and seek enough information to make an intelligent decision, not one based on emotion.

Stay on Guard for Medical Freedoms

Since 1986, when the pharmaceutical companies were deemed no longer liable for injury or death caused by vaccines, the number of vaccines has skyrocketed. Each state’s laws regarding vaccines and exemptions are continuously being revisited by lawmakers. Find an advocacy group in your state to stay informed and learn how to speak up for your medical freedoms. 

Recently, we had Tara from Wisconsin United for Freedom on A Different Perspective to share more. We discussed everything from how to reach out to your representatives, to looking for an advocacy group, to the rising number of vaccines recommended for children.

Let’s consider an idea, when we’re talking about exemptions. We’re really talking about freedoms. States that are trying to take away or restrict available exemptions are indeed taking away or restricting freedoms. In the Declaration of Independence, we are reminded that we are “endowed by our Creator,” not our government. You have options, some of them may not be an easy path, but you have options. Look into your state’s laws, look into advocacy groups in your state. In order for medical freedoms to remain intact, we need to be on guard and defend them. We need to be educated as to what our options are, what the laws are, and practice informed consent to make the best decision for our unique and individual family.