Vaccine exemptions still leave work to be done

Friday, October 20, 2017
Chris Woodward (

getting a vaccination vaccine injectionThe vaccine debate has been around for years – and the end appears to be nowhere in sight.

There are complex reasons for viewpoints on both sides of the vaccine debate. Connie Johnson of Michigan For Vaccine Choice says one reason people may be leery of vaccines is because people respond to things in different ways.

"One person can die from a bee sting, and one person could die from peanuts," she explains. "So it only makes sense that somebody might have an adverse reaction to something that's found in vaccinations."

As a result, Johnson believes a parent should choose for their child whether to vaccinate fully, not at all, or something in between.

"That parent has the right to make that medical decision for the medical intervention to be made for their child," Johnson continues.

Waivers for vaccination requirements may be available depending on the state. One state may offer a waiver that a neighboring state doesn't. For example, Michigan offers three types of waivers: one a medical waiver, the other two religious and philosophical waivers. However, the National Vaccine Information Center (NVIC) says Indiana offers only medical and religious exemptions.

Meanwhile, Dr. Cheyn Onarecker, a family physician and healthcare ethics consultant in Oklahoma City, recommends vaccines according to the current guidelines for children as well as adults.

"Those vaccines have been approved by the FDA and are recommended by advisory committee on infectious practices, immunization practices," he explains. "I certainly do not recommend avoiding them or refusing to get them except in specific situations, and the guidelines specify those."

doctor writing prescriptionOnarecker adds that there are things we can do as members of society in order to keep each other safe. Vaccinations, he says, are one of those things.

"As far as parental rights, I've got six children – [so] I get it," he says. "You want to make decisions for your children that you think are in their best interest to keep them safe, keep them healthy. But at the same time you run the risk of causing severe illness in others by your decisions.

"Religious reasons? I get that those are important, but I think those decisions still need to be based on the best information out there – and from what I've read, what I've seen, it doesn't seem like that's what's happening."

Johnson, however, says things are happening to influence people's decisions. She recommends people do their own research. Both Johnson and Onarecker suggest that for more information people visit the Centers for Disease Control website.

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