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Which Vaccination Exemptions Are Allowed by Massachusetts?

By    |   Thursday, 20 Aug 2015 03:36 PM

Massachusetts allows both medical and religious exemptions from vaccinations, but as of July 2015 did not allow philosophical exemptions.

That’s an issue some Massachusetts parents would like to change, and they are lobbying state legislators to allow a personal belief exemption.

WWLP reported in June 2015 on data from the Massachusetts Department of Health indicating more parents are choosing to avoid vaccinations in recent years. In the 1987-88 school year, the state 147 students had a vaccination exemption; in 2013-14, that number jumped to 837.

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Nearby states are going in the opposite direction, with Vermont repealing its philosophical exemption in 2014. The Burlington Free Press noted that nearby states, which included New Hampshire and Massachusetts, did not have the exemption and had higher rates of vaccination for school children.

Some spoke out against the proposed widening of vaccine exemptions.

“Allowing personal beliefs to inform parents’ immunizations decisions creates a slippery slope that will only endanger whole communities,” wrote Marcela Garcia in an opinion piece for The Boston Globe. “That’s why states like California are headed in the opposite direction, narrowing vaccine exemptions.”

Guidelines for immunization requirements for school attendance in Massachusetts are listed on the state's website.  The state also publishes data for its immunization rates online, including a breakout by public school.

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According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, from March 2015, "All 50 states have legislation requiring specified vaccines for students. Although exemptions vary from state to state, all school immunization laws grant exemptions to children for medical reasons. Almost all states grant religious exemptions for people who have religious beliefs against immunizations."

The NCSL also noted that 20 states offer philosophical exemptions, "for those who object to immunizations because of personal, moral or other beliefs."

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Massachusetts allows both medical and religious exemptions from vaccinations, but as of July 2015 did not allow philosophical exemptions.
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Thursday, 20 Aug 2015 03:36 PM
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