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Personal Belief Exemptions From School Vaccination Requirements

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Annual Review of Public Health

Annual Reviews

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      Abstract

      Despite the impact vaccination has had on the control and prevention of many infectious diseases, some parents choose not to vaccinate their children. Although there is no federal law requiring vaccination of children in the United States, all states require evidence of vaccination against at least some diseases as a condition of school entry. Which vaccines are required; how many doses are required; whether entry requirements apply to child care, kindergarten, or middle school; and whether exemptions from vaccine requirements will be allowed all differ by state. All but two states allow some kind of personal belief exemption from school vaccination requirements. This article reviews the history of school vaccination requirements and exemptions, the legal status of state vaccination laws and exemptions, the impact of school vaccination requirements and personal belief exemptions on vaccination rates and disease incidence, and strategies for maintaining adequate vaccination rates in states that allow personal belief exemptions.

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      Most cited references 42

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      Vaccine refusal, mandatory immunization, and the risks of vaccine-preventable diseases.

      Vaccines are among the most effective prevention tools available to clinicians. However, the success of an immunization program depends on high rates of acceptance and coverage. There is evidence of an increase in vaccine refusal in the United States and of geographic clustering of refusals that results in outbreaks. Children with exemptions from school immunization requirements (a measure of vaccine refusal) are at increased risk for measles and pertussis and can infect others who are too young to be vaccinated, cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons, or were vaccinated but did not have a sufficient immunologic response. Clinicians can play a crucial role in parental decision making. Health care providers are cited as the most frequent source of immunization information by parents, including parents of unvaccinated children. Although some clinicians have discontinued or have considered discontinuing their provider relationship with patients who refuse vaccines, the American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Bioethics advises against this and recommends that clinicians address vaccine refusal by respectfully listening to parental concerns and discussing the risks of nonvaccination. 2009 Massachusetts Medical Society
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        Measles outbreak in a highly vaccinated population, San Diego, 2008: role of the intentionally undervaccinated.

        In January 2008, an intentionally unvaccinated 7-year-old boy who was unknowingly infected with measles returned from Switzerland, resulting in the largest outbreak in San Diego, California, since 1991. We investigated the outbreak with the objective of understanding the effect of intentional undervaccination on measles transmission and its potential threat to measles elimination. We mapped vaccination-refusal rates according to school and school district, analyzed measles-transmission patterns, used discussion groups and network surveys to examine beliefs of parents who decline vaccination, and evaluated containment costs. The importation resulted in 839 exposed persons, 11 additional cases (all in unvaccinated children), and the hospitalization of an infant too young to be vaccinated. Two-dose vaccination coverage of 95%, absence of vaccine failure, and a vigorous outbreak response halted spread beyond the third generation, at a net public-sector cost of $10 376 per case. Although 75% of the cases were of persons who were intentionally unvaccinated, 48 children too young to be vaccinated were quarantined, at an average family cost of $775 per child. Substantial rates of intentional undervaccination occurred in public charter and private schools, as well as public schools in upper-socioeconomic areas. Vaccine refusal clustered geographically and the overall rate seemed to be rising. In discussion groups and survey responses, the majority of parents who declined vaccination for their children were concerned with vaccine adverse events. Despite high community vaccination coverage, measles outbreaks can occur among clusters of intentionally undervaccinated children, at major cost to public health agencies, medical systems, and families. Rising rates of intentional undervaccination can undermine measles elimination.
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          Parental vaccine safety concerns in 2009.

          Vaccine safety concerns can diminish parents' willingness to vaccinate their children. The objective of this study was to characterize the current prevalence of parental vaccine refusal and specific vaccine safety concerns and to determine whether such concerns were more common in specific population groups. In January 2009, as part of a larger study of parents and nonparents, 2521 online surveys were sent to a nationally representative sample of parents of children who were aged
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            Author and article information

            Affiliations
            [1 ]Department of Pediatrics, University of Washington School of Medicine; Department of Health Services, University of Washington School of Public Health; and Treuman Katz Center for Pediatric Bioethics, Seattle Children's Research Institute, Seattle, Washington 98101; email:
            Journal
            Annual Review of Public Health
            Annu. Rev. Public Health
            Annual Reviews
            0163-7525
            1545-2093
            March 18 2014
            March 18 2014
            : 35
            : 1
            : 275-292
            10.1146/annurev-publhealth-032013-182452
            © 2014

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