Can my child go to school without vaccines?

One thing most states require of children entering the school system, or even daycare, is the recommended vaccines for their age. When a child registers for school or daycare they must provide proof of vaccination or exemption. If your child has not been vaccinated but you are considering enrolling them in daycare or school then you will need to find out what your state requires in the way of vaccinations or exemptions.

The National Network for Immunization Information is a great resource for parents interested in learning more about the vaccine requirements for their state. This is also a wonderful resource for those who have recently moved to a new state and are unsure about the vaccine requirements there.

Why are vaccines important?

Many parents are confused about vaccines and this confusion leads them to believe that their child is better off without vaccines. Some parents are worried vaccines will give their child autism or cause a serious reaction. Other parents believe vaccines are not worthwhile simply because most of the diseases the vaccines are for have been eliminated. The reason most of the diseases have been eradicated is simply because so many people have been vaccinated that the disease cannot spread.

If you still believe that vaccines are not for your child then you may find out what exemptions are available in your state. An exemption is legally required for parents choosing not to vaccinate their kids. There are three kinds of exemptions, but not all states offer all three. It is important to find out what is available in your state so you can exercise your options.

Medical exemptions are available for those children who have a medical condition that could be worsened by receiving the vaccine. A doctor’s note is required for a medical exemption of vaccinations and all states allow this particular exemption.

Philosophical exemptions are available in 20 states. These are exemptions for parents who have very strong beliefs against immunization that are not religiously based. Not all states offer this type of exemption so parents are frequently limited to only the medical and religious exemptions.
Religious exemptions are allowed for parents who do not believe in immunizations based on their religion. Currently 48 states allow this type of exemption.

Exemptions are not the end all be all of the vaccine dilemma. That is because the state may challenge the exemption should the child transmit a disease that is preventable via vaccine to another person. A civil suit may be filed against the family in this situation. Also, situations where the child is placed in a situation where the risk of the disease is higher than reasonable or that would add more risk to society as a whole may be challenged by the state and vaccination required.

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