Vaccinating your kids, the vast majority of medical professionals agree, is definitely a good thing to do for their health and the health of everyone else's kids.
In line with this scientifically-backed thinking, Vermont passed a law earlier this year that prevents parents from skipping vaccinations because of "philosophical objections." But here's the loophole: parents can, however, still refuse vaccinations on the basis of "religious beliefs."
Some Vermont parents are already "switching" reasons for not having their kids vaccinated, local news station WCAX reports, because it just involves checking a different box on school vaccination forms.
The Associated Press spoke to a Montpelier couple, Shawn Venner and Aedan Scribner, who say that people might consider going one step further: inventing their own religion to protect what they see as their right to choose whether or not to have their child vaccinated:
‘‘I grew up here in Cabot, and would love my daughter to be able to go to the same school I did,’’ said Scribner. ‘‘But to get her into that school I’m going to have to do something like convert religiously.’’
The couple said they are not opposed to all vaccines for their daughter, but strongly support choice in the matter.
There has been talk among friends of starting a new religion, Venner said, ‘‘a religion that says we’ll pretty much have a choice.’’
The Vermont Coalition for Vaccine Choice, which advocates for parents to be able to refuse vaccinations on philosophical, religious, and medical grounds, is pushing for the philosophical exemption to be reinstated.
"Those who want toxin-free water are not called 'anti-water,' just as those who insist on transparency, honesty, safety and choice should not be called 'anti-vaccine,'" the group's leader, Jennifer Stella, wrote in a letter to state legislators last month."When the ethical conduct of a government agency is called into question, our children and grandchildren deserve nothing more than a full investigation and the right to maintain free choice in medical risk-taking."
Since this year's measles outbreak, which started in California and resulted in 159 people coming down with the disease, some states have been passing laws to restrict exemptions based on philosophical reasons. But only California, Mississippi, and West Virginia require parents to vaccinate their kids unless there's a medical reason (an allergy, for example) for them to be exempt.