State lawmakers could make Illinois the sixth state to remove a religious or philosophical objection to vaccines required to attend school.
In Illinois and most other states, it’s required by law that children be up to date on their vaccination schedule to attend school. As of January, 45 states and Washington D.C allowed religious exemptions for immunizations and 15 of those allowed for philosophical exemptions, according to the National Council of State Legislatures.
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If lawmakers approve of Senate Bill 3668 and if it is signed by Governor J.B. Pritzker, parents would no longer be able to submit a letter to their child’s school objecting to the vaccination requirement.
Supporters of removing the exemption have said some parents have used it improperly.
“Back in 2014, we had about 14,000 religious exemptions,” said Tom Hughes, director of the Illinois Public Health Association. “In 2018, it’s up to over 19,000.”
This increase came even after public health officials increased the steps required for parents to obtain religious exemptions, including verification that they had talked with a medical professional about the decision.
Opponents of vaccinations quote a number of scripture verses but, Hughes stressed, often use them to mask beliefs about GMOs or mercury content in vaccines. Nearly all child vaccinations contain no Thimerosal, the preservative ingredient that contains ethylmercury. That is relatively harmless, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, compared to methylmercury, which is found in fish and can be detrimental in higher doses.
Activists have been contacting lawmakers, pressuring them to withdraw the legislation, saying it infringes on their religious freedom.
In Illinois, 96 percent to 98 percent of students enrolled in school are up to date vaccinations. However, that means more than 40,000 students – mostly concentrated in private, religious, or inner-city public schools – are not. Some schools have rates as low as 7 percent inoculated.
Herd immunity, Hughes said, is the goal. That’s the term for a high enough percentage of vaccinations in a particular community where a contagious disease will generally not spread. It varies by disease, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention generally put it between 83 percent and 94 percent.
( Copyright WBGZ Radio / AltonDailyNews.com )
via Alton Daily News
March 1, 2020 at 01:25PM