All children eligible to be enrolled in Rhode Island schools and day cares must be up to date on vaccinations for a number of communicable diseases to attend with few exceptions. These immunization requirements are upheld by the public school system and all facilities licensed in Rhode Island.
Rhode Island only allows exemptions from vaccination for religious and medical reasons; it does accept philosophical objections as valid for vaccination exemptions, according to data collected by the National Vaccine Information Center
Legislation to eliminate the religious exemption is being debated in a wave of states, including Rhode Island, according to PBS's "Frontline."
If the legislation is passed, Rhode Island would become the third state, joining Mississippi and West Virginia, to deny the claim of religious exemption for mandatory state vaccinations.
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According the Rhode Island Department of Health
, forms to file for a religious exemption can be obtained from school nurses. Medical exemption forms must be granted and signed by a doctor.
The vaccinations that can be exempted include immunizations for DTaP, PCV, hepatitis A, rotavirus, hepatitis B, Tdap, Hib, influenza, IPV, MCV, MMR, polio, and varicella, according to the state's Department of Health.
Starting in the 2015–2016 school year, public and private schools alike required that all seventh graders take the human papillomavirus vaccine, in an attempt to halt the sexually transmitted virus. According to the Providence Journal
, medical and religious exemptions are allowed for the HPV vaccine.
Tricia Washburn, chief of the Office of Immunization for the Rhode Island Department of Health, told the Providence Journal that she has faith in the vaccine, and she claimed "that HPV is the most sexually transmitted disease in the U.S.”
“We are interested in protecting the public health,” Washburn said. “We feel it shouldn't be treated any differently than any of the other vaccines recommended by the CDC."
According to Fox News
, Rhode Island joins, Virginia, and Washington, D.C., in having a law that requires children to get the HPV vaccination. The HPV vaccine in terms of discovery is fairly new, with its approval certified in 2006.
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