Religious Exemptions to Vaccines and Outbreaks in Communities (2022)

Although vaccines are required to attend most schools in the United States, with the availability of exemptions, many kids attend without being vaccinated or fully vaccinated. Exemption based on religion is one of several reasons parents can claim to avoid giving their children vaccines in certain states.

And of course, parents can always choose to not send their kids to school. Children who are home-schooled usually do not have to meet the same vaccine requirements as children who attend public or private schools.

Kinds of Exemptions

People have been trying to get exemptions from vaccine requirements as long as vaccines have been protecting people from vaccine-preventable diseases. Today, vaccine exemptions fall into three main categories:

  • Medical exemptions: Includes severe allergies to the vaccine or components of the vaccine, immune system disorders
  • Philosophical exemptions: Also called personal-belief exemptions
  • Religious exemptions: Based on the tenets of an organized religion that prohibits vaccinating its members

Should I Homeschool My Gifted Child?

Religious Exemptions

Although some people in religious groups cluster and refuse vaccination, they are often actually claiming personal-belief exemptions and not true religious exemptions.

Among the few religions with an absolute objection to vaccines include:

  • Churches that rely on faith healing including small Christian churches such as Church of the First Born, End Time Ministries, Faith Assembly, Faith Tabernacle, and First Century Gospel Church.
  • The First Church of Christ, Scientist (Christian Scientist) believes in healing through prayer and that vaccines aren't necessary.

Except in Mississippi and West Virginia, members of these churches and other people who have religious beliefs against immunizations can be exempted from school immunization requirements.

Although there are few religions with an absolute objection to vaccines, there are many more groups within other religions who are opposed to getting their kids and themselves vaccinated, which helps explain some of the outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases that have occurred recently.

These religious groups include:

  • Some Amish
  • Some Dutch Reformed churches
  • Some Muslim fundamentalists

There is no absolute objection to vaccines within these faith traditions, though. Even among the Dutch Orthodox Protestants, there is a subset who describe vaccines "as a gift from God to be used with gratitude" and vaccination rates in these communities have been on the rise.

(Video) NY lawmakers call for eliminating religious exemptions for vaccinations

For many religious groups, their anti-vaccine views aren't always about religion.

For some Muslim fundamentalists, for example, opposition to the polio vaccine in Afghanistan, Nigeria, and Pakistan has had much more to do with social and political issues, rather than theological issues. Some have even believed that the polio vaccination effort was a conspiracy to sterilize Muslims in the area. Unfortunately, these are the countries where polio is still endemic.

Recent Outbreaks

Several outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseaseshave ravaged religious communities in North America and Europe since 2010. These include:

  • At least 16 people in Texas with measles are linked to Eagle Mountain International Church, which is a part of Kenneth Copeland Ministries and is described as "anti-vaccine" and "vaccine-refusing."
  • At least 21 people in North Carolina with measles are linked to Prabhupada Village, a Hare Krishna community.
  • At least 158 cases of measles in Quebec began in an outbreak that originally started when unvaccinated members of an anti-vaccine eugenics community group took a trip to Disneyland.
  • At least 2,499 cases occurred in the Dutch "Bible belt" with at least one case of measles encephalitis and one death (a 17-year-old girl).
  • Nearly 400 cases of measles in British Columbia were linked to a religious group called the Netherlands Reformed Congregation.
  • Nearly 300 people, mostly connected to Orthodox Jewish communities in Borough Park and Williamsburg, Brooklyn developed measles—the largest outbreak in the United States since the endemic spread of measles was eliminated.

None of these religions doctrinally prohibit their members from getting vaccinated. The Eagle Mountain International Church even had a few vaccine clinics at their church during their measles outbreak.

Unfounded Safety Fears

Even though they are clustered in a church or religious group, for many the root cause of their unwillingness to be vaccinated relates to concerns over vaccine safety that drives them to avoid vaccines—and not any real religious doctrine.​

While orthodox Hasidic Jews were at the center of the large measles outbreak in New York, for example, most other orthodox Hasidic Jews in New York are fully vaccinated and some have even participated in trials for the mumps and hepatitis A vaccines. So instead of a true religious exemption, these are more of a personal-belief exemption.

The main problem is that these groups of unvaccinated people become clustered together at church and other activities, helping to fuel large outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases.

This phenomenon isn't rare. In addition to the measles outbreaks described above, there have been clusters of other preventable diseases, including:

  • A rubella outbreak in Europe, in which 387 cases of rubella occurred in an unvaccinated religious community in the Netherlands. Twenty-nine women got rubella while pregnant. At least three women had babies with congenital rubella syndrome and one pregnancy ended in intrauterine death.
  • Multiple outbreaks of polio among Amish communities, with the latest occurring in 2005, infecting four members of an Amish community in Minnesota.
  • Several cases of Hib disease, including an unvaccinated 7-month-old who died in Minnesota in 2008 and at least three unvaccinated or incompletely vaccinated children in Pennsylvania who died in 2009.

Another problem is that some of these churches do mission work overseas in areas where many of these vaccine-preventable diseases are still very common.

An unvaccinated worker may go to one of these countries, catch measles, pertussis, or some other vaccine-preventable disease. They then return home and infect family members and other people in their church congregation who are also anti-vaccine, too young to be vaccinated, or who have a medical contraindication to getting vaccinated.

(Video) Religious exemptions for vaccinations in question following measles outbreak

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Vaccine Support From Religious Groups

One study of vaccine-preventable disease outbreaks among religious groups found that "while the church was the common link among cases, there was no formal advice regarding vaccination from the church before the outbreak. Instead, vaccine refusal was attributed to a combination of personal religious beliefs and safety concerns among a subgroup of church members."

Most religions offer no formal advice regarding vaccination. Rather, many religions have clear positions in support of vaccination including:

  • Catholics: While some people still believe that Catholics are opposed to some vaccines, the Catholic Church is clearly pro-vaccine. Even for the vaccines that some parents question, especially those for hepatitis A, rubella, and varicella, which are cultured in cells that were originally derived from aborted fetuses, the Church teaches that "if no safe, effective alternative vaccines exist, it is lawful to use these vaccines if danger to the health of children exists or to the health of the population as a whole."
  • Jehovah's Witnesses: Although Jehovah's Witnesses had a past opposition to vaccines, in 1952 they stated that vaccination "does not appear to us to be in violation of the everlasting covenant made with Noah, as set down in Genesis 9:4, nor contrary to God's related commandment at Leviticus 17:10-14."
  • Jews: Confusion still exists among some people over the fact that since some vaccines contain components with porcine (pig) and gelatin components, then it must be against Jewish dietary laws for their members to be vaccinated. However, the use of vaccines is "judged based on concepts of medical law contained in halachic codes" and is therefore encouraged.
  • Muslims: Except for areas where polio is still endemic, several imams and other Islamic leaders issued clear statements and fatwas describing how immunization is consistent with Islamic principles.
  • Hindus: None of the four major branches of Hinduism are opposed to vaccines and countries that are majority Hindu, including Nepal and India, have high vaccination rates.

A Word From Verywell

Although many of the large outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases occur among religious groups, few religions actually oppose vaccines. Instead, most actively encourage their members to get vaccinated and prevent vaccine-preventable diseases. Additionally, there is absolutely no truth behind the fear that vaccines are not safe. Vaccines save millions of lives each year.

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(Video) New York Ends Religious Exemption to Vaccines Amid Measles Outbreak

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Verywell Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.

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  2. Spaan DH, Ruijs WLM, Hautvast JLA, Tostmann A. Increase in vaccination coverage between subsequent generations of orthodox Protestants in The Netherlands. Eur J Public Health. 2017;27(3):524-530. doi:10.1093/eurpub/ckw248

  3. Zimmerman A, McKay B. Texas church is center of measles outbreak. The Wall Street Journal. August 27, 2013.

    (Video) Why Is Everyone Asking for Religious Vaccine Exemptions? | The Daily Show

  4. State health officials continue investigation and control of statewide measles outbreak. Hyde County, North Carolina. 2011.

  5. Blumberg S, Worden L, Enanoria W, et al. Assessing measles transmission in the United States following a large outbreak in California.PLoS Curr. 2015;1. doi:10.1371/currents.outbreaks.b497624d7043b1aecfbfd3dfda3e344a

  6. Quebec rushes to vaccinate against measles in Joliette. CBC News. March 12, 2015.

  7. Lisowski B, Yuvan S, Bier M. Outbreaks of the measles in the Dutch Bible Belt and in other places - New prospects for a 1000 year old virus. BioSystems. 2019;177:16-23. doi:10.1016/j.biosystems.2019.01.003

  8. Van Buynder PG. Large measles outbreak in a religious community in British Columbia. J Vaccines Vaccin. 2014;5(5). doi:10.4172/2157-7560.1000246

  9. Pager T, Mays JC. New York declares measles emergency, requiring vaccinations in parts of Brooklyn. The New York Times. April 9, 2019.

  10. Kennedy AM, Gust DA. Measles outbreak associated with a church congregation: A study of immunization attitudes of congregation members.Public Health Rep. 2008;123(2):126-134. doi:10.1177/003335490812300205

Additional Reading

FAQs

What religion prevents you from getting the flu shot? ›

Jehovah's Witnesses condemned the practice of vaccination in 1931 as "a direct violation of the everlasting covenant that God made with Noah after the flood", but reversed that policy in 1952. The decision of whether to vaccinate themselves or their family is left to individuals.

Who should not take the Covid vaccine? ›

The mRNA-based COVID-19 vaccines are not recommended for children under the age of 5 years for Pfizer-BioNTech/ Comirnaty COVID-19 vaccine and children under the age of 18 years for Moderna/Spikevax COVID-19 vaccine until more efficacy and safety data become available for these subgroups.

Is there a religious exemption for vaccines in NJ? ›

If you are an employee in New Jersey with a sincerely held religious belief, practice, or observance that conflicts with your employer's requirement that all employees physically entering the workplace be fully vaccinated against COVID-19, you may, or may not, be entitled to a religious exemption from your employer's ...

Do California charter schools require vaccinations? ›

All students enrolling in California Pacific Charter School must present either the immunization record or complete the Non-Immunization Confirmation form if a student has not received any/all of the required doses.

Why do healthcare workers decline influenza vaccine? ›

Multiple studies have been conducted worldwide to examine the reasons why HWCs decline the influenza vaccination. Reasons include concerns about adverse reactions, perceived lack of susceptibility, and alleged lack of vaccine effectiveness [4, 5, 10,11,12,13,14].

Is spirituality a religion? ›

Spirituality and religion can be hard to tell apart but there are some pretty defined differences between the two. Religion is a specific set of organised beliefs and practices, usually shared by a community or group. Spirituality is more of an individual practice and has to do with having a sense of peace and purpose.

Who should not take Covaxin? ›

Individuals with a history of anaphylaxis to any component of the vaccine should not take it. Persons with acute PCR-confirmed COVID-19 should not be vaccinated until after they have recovered from acute illness and the criteria for ending isolation have been met.

Is Johnson and Johnson vaccine safe? ›

Summary. On April 24, the Western States Scientific Safety Review Workgroup concluded the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is safe and effective and recommended resuming use of the vaccine for all eligible Californians.

Where did the Pfizer vaccine come from? ›

As of January 2022, the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is manufactured between 11 sites across five countries, including the U.S., Germany, Belgium, Ireland, and Croatia, and engages more than 20 suppliers.

How do I get a religious exemption for Covid vaccine in NJ? ›

Must be completed by an employee who is requesting an exemption from the requirement to complete vaccination against COVID-19; 2. is only valid for application for exemptions from the requirement to complete vaccination against COVID-19; 3. Must be submitted to , along with all supporting documentation and materials.

Is vaccination mandatory in NJ? ›

All part-time and full-time individuals, employed by all public, private, and parochial preschool programs and elementary and secondary schools, including charter and renaissance schools, are required to be fully vaccinated or submit to testing.

Do homeschoolers have to be vaccinated in California? ›

2019 update regarding SB 276 and SB 714: California passed immunization legislation that will make it more difficult to receive a medical vaccine exemption in order to attend a public or private school. It does not apply to homeschoolers.

Do homeschoolers need to be vaccinated? ›

No: Homeschoolers do not need to be vaccinated; immunization requirements only apply to public and private schools, and homeschools are not considered private schools.

Do private schools in California require immunizations? ›

Students will no longer be required to have immunizations for entry if they attend: A home-based private school or. An independent study program with no classroom-based instruction.

Is the flu vaccine vegetarian? ›

Our standard quadrivalent and trivalent vaccines are produced by processes that include culture in embryonated hens' eggs. Only a trace of egg protein remains in the flu vaccine, but as the egg has been fertilised, some vegetarians and most vegans may object to this.

How can I avoid getting the flu shot at work? ›

Allowing the use of an approved mask as an alternative to vaccination. Allowing the use of other types of personal protective equipment, such as a protective hood with face shield, suit, gloves, etc. Temporarily assigning job duties that do not require direct patient care.

Is influenza vaccine mandatory? ›

All family members should get the flu shot every year to protect themselves from this deadly virus. Ask your local doctor today about the flu vaccination. Flu, which is often mistaken for the common cold because of similar symptoms, is an extremely contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza A or B viruses.

What is it called when you believe in God but not religion? ›

While the Nones include agnostics and atheists, most people in this category retain a belief in God or some higher power. Many describe themselves as “spiritual but not religious,” or “SBNR,” as researchers refer to them.

Do you think God exist? ›

Scientists don't try to prove or disprove God's existence because they know there isn't an experiment that can ever detect God. And if you believe in God, it doesn't matter what scientists discover about the Universe – any cosmos can be thought of as being consistent with God.

How can I get faith without religion? ›

5 Ways To Find A Sense Of Spirituality Without Religion
  1. Take 10 minutes to calm your mind when you wake up. ...
  2. Be useful to others. ...
  3. Know that you don't need India, Bali, or the Amazon jungle to locate your sense of spirit. ...
  4. Explore what spirituality without religion means for you and who embodies it. ...
  5. Keep it simple.
Mar 16, 2020

Should I avoid Covaxin? ›

WHO SHOULD NOT GET COVAXIN®? You should not get COVAXIN® if you: • Had a severe allergic reaction to any ingredients of the vaccine. Had a severe allergic reaction after a previous dose of this vaccine. Currently have an acute infection or fever.

Is there any side effects of Covaxin vaccine? ›

Some mild symptoms/AEFIs may occur like injection site pain, headache, fatigue, fever, body ache, abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting, dizziness- giddiness, tremor, sweating, cold, cough and injection site swelling. No other vaccine- related serious adverse effects have been reported.

Which is better Covaxin or Covishield? ›

According to the third-phase experiment, Covishield showed effectiveness of nearly 90%, whereas Covaxin has an effectiveness of about 80%. Both vaccination formulations in India have so far demonstrated satisfactory efficacy against numerous mutant variants of SARS-CoV-2.

Which is better Moderna or Pfizer? ›

In adults, their initial efficacy estimates were virtually identical — 95% for Pfizer's vaccine, 94% for Moderna's. They were issued emergency use authorizations by the Food and Drug Administration within a week of each other in the United States in December 2020.

Is Pfizer's vaccine safe? ›

Yes. The two mRNA vaccines, Pfizer and Moderna, authorized by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), are very safe and very good at preventing serious or fatal cases of COVID-19.

Is AstraZeneca vaccine safe? ›

The AstraZeneca vaccine is safe and effective at protecting people from the extremely serious risks of COVID-19, including death, hospitalization and severe disease.

Which country made the first vaccine for COVID-19? ›

On 25 February 2021, China announced the approval of the Wuhan vaccine for general use. The UAE subsequently became the first foreign country to approve the vaccine. The Chinese manufacturing partner of AstraZeneca, Shenzhen Kangtai Biological Products, has its own inactivated COVID-19 vaccine, known as Vero Cells.

Did FDA approve Pfizer vaccine? ›

The FDA has authorized the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine for use in individuals 5 years of age and older and has approved Comirnaty (COVID-19 Vaccine, mRNA) for use in individuals 16 years of age and older.

Where is AstraZeneca vaccine made? ›

Vaxzevria (AstraZeneca)

Biopharmaceutical company CSL manufactures the AstraZeneca vaccine in Australia. The TGA provisionally approved the AstraZeneca vaccine for use in Australia on 15 February 2021.

Can a company force you to get vaccinated? ›

A vaccination mandate should be job-related and consistent with business necessity. Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), an employer can have a workplace policy that includes "a requirement that an individual shall not pose a direct threat to the health or safety of individuals in the workplace."

What vaccines are required by law? ›

These PHLP menus examine state healthcare facility vaccination laws for the following vaccine-preventable diseases:
  • Hepatitis B. Menu of State Healthcare Facility Hepatitis B Vaccination Laws.
  • Influenza. ...
  • Measles, Mumps, Rubella (MMR) ...
  • Pertussis. ...
  • Pneumococcal disease. ...
  • Varicella.

How do I get a Covid vaccine exemption in Texas? ›

To request a medical exemption from the COVID-19 vaccination requirement, complete the form below and submit to the System Office's unique link to the REDCap Portal: Medical Exemption Form (completed by the employee and the employee's healthcare provider).

Can your employer require a Covid vaccine in NJ? ›

An employer can require that an employee receive the COVID-19 vaccine in order to return to the workplace, unless the employee cannot get the vaccine because of a disability, because their doctor has advised them not to get the vaccine while pregnant, breastfeeding, or chestfeeding, or because of a sincerely held ...

Do you have to show proof of vaccination in New Jersey? ›

Because the statutes and rules do not permit an employer to verify an employee's vaccination status in NJIIS, employers should have employees submit vaccination documentation for verification.

Are Covid booster shots mandatory? ›

"Although skepticism abounds about whether the definition of 'fully vaccinated' will evolve to require boosters, right now boosters are optional," Thomas noted.

What vaccines are mandatory in California? ›

Immunization Requirements for School Entry
  • Diphtheria, Tetanus, and Pertussis (DTaP, DTP, Tdap, or Td) — 5 doses. (4 doses OK if one was given on or after 4th birthday. ...
  • Polio (OPV or IPV) — 4 doses. ...
  • Hepatitis B — 3 doses. ...
  • Measles, Mumps, and Rubella (MMR) — 2 doses. ...
  • Varicella (Chickenpox) — 2 doses.

What is California's law regarding immunization and enrollment in public schools? ›

California law requires all children enrolled in state schools, both public and private, to have certain doctor-recommended immunizations, or receive them when they enroll.

Can you get a medical exemption in California? ›

Medical exemptions can only be issued by MDs or DOs licensed in California and must meet applicable Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP), and American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) criteria.

Who shouldn't get the Covid vaccine? ›

People with a severe allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) to any component of either an mRNA vaccine or the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine should NOT receive that vaccine.

Is the Covid-19 vaccine mandatory in California? ›

To ensure sufficient time for successful implementation of new vaccine requirements, California will not initiate the regulatory process for a COVID-19 vaccine requirement for the 2022-2023 school year and as such, any vaccine requirements would not take effect until after full FDA approval and no sooner than July 1, ...

Is it illegal to homeschool in California? ›

In the past, rumors have circulated that homeschooling in California is illegal. That is not true. It is an established right of parents in the state.

Do Montessori schools require vaccinations in Florida? ›

All students are required to have on file a Florida Certificate of Immunization (Form DH 680), Student Physical Examination Certificate (HRS-H Form 3040). Kindergarten students are required Hepatitis B Vaccine series.

Is chickenpox vaccine mandatory in California? ›

Age appropriate vaccination against chickenpox is required for child care, preschool, and grade school entry in California.

Do charter schools require vaccinations in California? ›

All students enrolling in California Pacific Charter School must present either the immunization record or complete the Non-Immunization Confirmation form if a student has not received any/all of the required doses.

What is a immunocompromised condition? ›

Immunocompromised condition or weakened immune system. Some people are immunocompromised or have a weakened immune system, because of a medical condition and treatment for the condition.

What should you not do before vaccinations? ›

Avoid Heavy Foods Before – One of the things to do before getting vaccinated includes avoiding spicy and excessively fried food as it may further lead to sluggishness and reduce your overall health. However, it is equally important to not starve yourself before getting vaccinated.

Which is better Pfizer or Moderna? ›

In adults, their initial efficacy estimates were virtually identical — 95% for Pfizer's vaccine, 94% for Moderna's. They were issued emergency use authorizations by the Food and Drug Administration within a week of each other in the United States in December 2020.

How long after first vaccine do you get second? ›

You do not need to get your second dose exactly 21 (for Pfizer) or 28 (for Moderna) days after your first shot. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have advised that the second should be given no more than 8 weeks after the first dose.

Is asthma an underlying condition Covid? ›

Risk of severe illness from COVID-19

People with moderate-to-severe or uncontrolled asthma are more likely to be hospitalized from COVID-19. Take steps to protect yourself.

Can immunocompromised survive Covid? ›

Some people who are immunocompromised (have a weakened immune system) are more likely to get sick with COVID-19 or be sick for a longer period.

Is autoimmune and immunocompromised the same thing? ›

The term “immunocompromised” typically implies that your immune system is weaker than it should be. People with autoimmune disease aren't typically considered immunocompromised, unless they take certain medications that slow down their immune system.

Can I take ibuprofen after Covid vaccine? ›

Apply a clean, cool, wet washcloth to your arm to help reduce pain. It may also help to exercise your arm. If you have a fever, drink plenty of fluids and dress lightly. Over-the-counter medicines like Tylenol® (acetaminophen) or Motrin® or Advil® (ibuprofen) can help with pain, fever, headache, or discomfort.

Can I take ibuprofen after Covid booster? ›

To reduce discomfort from fever

For any pain and discomfort experienced after getting vaccinated, talk to your doctor about taking over-the-counter medicine, such as ibuprofen, acetaminophen, aspirin (only for people ages 18 years or older), or antihistamines.

Is Pfizer's vaccine safe? ›

Yes. The two mRNA vaccines, Pfizer and Moderna, authorized by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), are very safe and very good at preventing serious or fatal cases of COVID-19.

Is the Johnson and Johnson vaccine still available? ›

You can still get Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine if that is the vaccine you want. Be aware that anyone may develop rare blood clots after getting the vaccine.

Is AstraZeneca an mRNA vaccine? ›

There are 3 types of approved vaccines: messenger RNA (mRNA) – Pfizer and Moderna. vector – AstraZeneca.

Which vaccine is better Covaxin or Covishield? ›

According to the third-phase experiment, Covishield showed effectiveness of nearly 90%, whereas Covaxin has an effectiveness of about 80%. Both vaccination formulations in India have so far demonstrated satisfactory efficacy against numerous mutant variants of SARS-CoV-2.

Like the ADA, Title VII requires an employer to accommodate an employee’s sincerely held religious beliefs, practices and observances unless an accommodation would cause undue hardship.. To fall within Title VII’s protection, an employee’s religious objection to the use of fetal cells in the COVID-19 vaccines must be consistent with their practices with respect to other vaccines whose development has involved the use of fetal stem cells.. What a Religious Exemption Request Form Might Look Like. An employer may require employees simply to explain how COVID-19 vaccination is inconsistent with their religious beliefs, as the religious exemption form used by Duke Health does (hospitals have been among the earliest employers to require vaccination as a condition of employment and to have developed exemption forms).. If the objection is related to the use of fetal cells, the employer may ask about the employee’s use of drugs in whose development fetal cells played a role.. First, employers must accommodate those employees whose sincerely held religious beliefs do not allow them to be vaccinated against COVID-19, unless the employer would suffer an undue hardship.

And there are clearly churches offering exemptions to those who don't want to get the vaccine.. Who wants a religious exemption?. While the Pope has supported the use of vaccines, CNN's Miguel Marquez talked to two health care workers seeking religious exemptions to the vaccine in September who were prepared to lose their jobs rather than comply with a requirement from New York state and get the shot.. Here's how one CNN report described the use of fetal cell lines from abortions in the 1970s and 1980s in the Covid-19 vaccines:. Service members already get a battery of vaccines, including those that were developed using cells similar to those used in the development of the Covid-19 vaccines.. Health care workers in Maine asked the US Supreme Court to force the state to honor their request for religious exemptions to the vaccine.

2:11COVID-19 vaccine mandates coming for travellers and federal workers. COVID-19 vaccine mandates coming for travellers and federal workers – Oct 6, 2021While the federal government and several provincial human rights commissions have promised that exemptions would be given out, public health experts, ethicists and even Prime Minister Trudeau have said they would be few and far between.. In a statement to Global News, the prime minister’s office said there would only be “very limited exceptions” to the vaccine mandate for travellers, in particular, to address “the realities of remote, fly-in communities; emergency travel; and exceptional medical reasons.”. As for federal employees, an earlier statement from Canadian Treasury Board said that any federal employees unable “to be fully vaccinated based on a certified medical contraindication, religion, or another prohibited ground of discrimination as defined under the Canadian Human Rights Act may request accommodation.”. “Managers can request additional information and supporting documentation, as may be appropriate,” the statement continued.. Indigenous leader says Pope Francis visit leaves room for reconciliation and change. Regarding vaccine mandates on a provincial level, some governments have also further addressed the topic of religious exemptions.. Quebec recently announced that it would not be taking religious exemptions as a reason for health-care workers not to get the jab by Oct. 15.. And while some federal workers not yet vaccinated rush to get their mandated jab, exemptions could be made in very special cases – mostly under the argument of medical or religious reasons.. “The world is a big place with people from a lot of different religions and beliefs who have got vaccines,” he wrote.. The first was whether it was ethical for the government to impose vaccine mandates given that people have a legitimate objection to them, and the second was whether it was ethical for people to even claim a religious exemption to the jab in the first place.. According to McArthur, the government was “more than justified” in imposing such mandates which were based on public health urgings, though it would also be hard for them not to accommodate religious exemptions with Canada being a liberal democracy that has its own charter of rights and freedoms.. There is a fear that it may be public policies that target people or religion or try to suppress certain kinds of religion — and I think that’s clearly not the case here,” said McArthur.. As for whether the majority of people trying to claim a religious exemption to the vaccine actually held “sincere” religious objections to it, McArthur was sceptical.

Therefore, Catholics are in no way obliged to relent to any Church authority, even in the person of the Holy Father, who insists they receive a COVID vaccine (or any vaccine).. The most that any Catholic (including a bishop) can say, then, is that a Catholic may take the vaccine, never that he must .. Logically and morally speaking, it does not follow that to say a Catholic can in good conscience take the vaccine means that a different Catholic cannot oppose the vaccine (particularly when mandated).. True, Pope Francis voiced such a blanket appeal, asserting on one occasion the moral obligation to get one of the COVID vaccines, since, as he suggested, it is “about the lives of others.” This remark by the Holy Father has been invoked as grounds for denying a religious exemption for those Catholics who request it.. Second, it ignores what has been highlighted above: that deciding whether to get vaccinated remains a matter of prudential judgment of conscience and that on such matters, Catholics are free to make their own judgment , regardless of what any bishop, priest, or pope might say.. A Catholic could also cite the National Catholic Bioethics Conference—a high-level, highly regarded scholarly authority on moral biomedical issues—which issued its Statement on COVID-19 Vaccine Mandates (on August 30, 2021).. As of this writing (almost a year since the release of the vaccines), data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control’s Vaccine Averse Event Reporting System ( VAERS ) show hundreds of thousands of adverse short-term effects, including over a hundred thousand serious injuries and deaths—with a Harvard Pilgrim Health Care study suggesting that only one percent of actual adverse reactions to the COVID vaccines are reported to VAERS.

Parents seem to take advantage of these rules: Researchers have found that broad philosophical and religious exemptions to vaccine requirements are associated with higher rates of unvaccinated children.. Religious exemptions allow parents to opt their children out of mandated vaccination policies if they object to the vaccine for religious reasons, and if they follow the state’s opt-out process.. And more than a dozen states offer philosophical exemptions, sometimes known as personal-belief exemptions, which don’t require that a parent’s desire to opt out be specifically about their religious beliefs.. Vaccine exemptions for children enrolled in kindergarten have slowly grown over the past decade, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, prompting some states to consider changes.. “Religious vaccinations exemptions impact public health,” Dr. Williams said.

Recent measles outbreaks in states such as Washington, New York and New Jersey have cast a spotlight on a group of Americans who receive exemptions from immunizing their children on the grounds that the vaccines violate their religious freedoms.. A Washington state representative has proposed tightening the state’s religious exemption while eliminating a separate law that allows for a personal or philosophical exemption from immunization.. Vaccination proponents and anti-vaccination activists are watching to see whether some states will follow California, which got rid of religious and personal exemptions for vaccines after a Disneyland-linked outbreak of measles that began in 2014.. Washington, which is one of the least religious states in the country, is one of the 17 states that allow a personal or philosophical exemption for the vaccine, which means that most anyone can opt out for any reason.. Researchers believe some parents use states’ religious exemptions even though they don’t necessarily have a religious objection, said Peter Hotez, a vaccination proponent and dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston.. States that have both a personal exemption and a religious exemption have higher rates of whooping cough than states that just have a religious exemption.

Crowded among them are controversial titles critical of vaccinations, the books Wilkinson used in her own homework researching vaccines.. Kentucky is among 47 states that allow some form of religious exemption from vaccination requirements for children to attend public schools.. Some measles outbreaks in New York and Ohio have been associated with religious communities opposed to vaccination, and that has intensified the debate about religious exemptions.. Kentucky and neighboring states in the Ohio Valley provide a case study and the potential for some timely lessons on the public health implications of vaccination exemptions.. “West Virginia started having state laws about vaccines i n the late eighteen hundreds and there’s never been any type of religious or personal belief exemption in our laws,” said Jamie Lynn Crofts, a civil rights attorney in Charleston, West Virginia.. The public health benefit of a vaccination depends in part on what’s called “herd immunity,” achieved only when a high percentage of vaccination keeps the disease at bay.. But a subset of church members like Wilkinson reject vaccines on moral grounds because of the past use of fetal cells in some vaccine development.. “While the Catholic Church does not oppose vaccinations in principle, it does consider as morally illicit the development of vaccines from aborted fetal tissues,” the statement read.. “There has not been any talk about eliminating exemptions to vaccines in Kentucky that I’m aware of at this point,” Kentucky’s Public Health Commissioner Dr. Jeffrey Howard said.

West Virginia’s Senate is reviewing a bill that would allow public school students to receive religious exemptions from vaccinations.. No major religion has explicit, doctrinal objections to vaccinations.. Grabenstein found that only two religious groups ― Christian Scientists and the Dutch Reformed Church ― have demonstrated a precedent of widely rejecting vaccinations, but even these are not explicitly laid out in their doctrine.. National nonmedical vaccine exemption rates rose 19 percent between 2009 and 2013, according to the American Journal of Public Health.. And in New Jersey, the number of school children whose parents sought exemptions on religious grounds rose from 1,641 in the 2005-06 academic year to 8,977 in the 2013-14 year.. The report, published in the journal of the American Academy of Pediatricians, found the majority of doctors said parents refusing or delaying vaccinations for their children do so because they believe the vaccine is unnecessary, taxing on their child’s immune system or for fear the shot will cause their child pain.. Individuals may hold personal, spiritual objections to vaccinations ― but what grounds these sentiments doesn’t appear to be religious tenets.. As Grabenstein found, the religious group most commonly associated with anti-vaccination sentiment is the Church of Christ, Scientist.. Christian Scientists routinely turn down vaccinations, which has been linked to a number of measles outbreaks among members of the faith.. Some unvaccinated pockets of the traditionalist Christian community have been at the center of measles outbreaks in the past, but as a whole the religious community has nothing against getting immunized.. Most major branches of Judaism hold that people have a moral responsibility to maintain their health ― including getting vaccinated.. However, a measles outbreak hit Southern California in January and specifically appeared to be spreading in the Orthodox Jewish community in Los Angeles.. They did not cite specific religious objections to the law, however.. The anti-vaccine movement developed largely around a since-retracted study linking certain vaccines to autism.. The doctor who lead the study was later discovered to have made up much of the data.Objections to vaccinations are sometimes rooted more in culture than religion.

Forty-seven states currently permit religious exemptions from vaccines, though the Constitution does not require them to do so.. Given the health risks to unvaccinated children and people with compromised immune systems, and the skyrocketing financial burden put on states due to vaccine-preventable illnesses, it is time for these states to change their laws so that fringe religious objections do not get in the way of protecting the safety of our communities.. Article 25 of the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that “Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for health and well-being of himself and of his family, including[…] medical care.” Surely, if we have the ability to prevent a life-threatening illness from harming a child, we should give that child the protection.. The diseases that vaccines prevent are not just mild illnesses; 355 people in the Philippines died of measles between January 1 and March 26 of this year; more than 1100 in Madagascar have died since October 2018.. So why do so many states still allow religious exemptions for vaccination?. None of the country’s largest religions prohibits the use of vaccines, and only a small handful of minor religions — Christian Science, Dutch Reformed Congregations, and certain faith healing denominations — resist vaccination due to theological objections.. Yet 47 states allow for religious exemptions.. Only 17 of those also allow for personal belief exemptions, which means that in 30 states, the only non-medical exemptions being granted are for people claiming their religion does not allow it.. In the 2016-2017 school year, nearly 27,000 public school children living in those 30 states were exempt from the MMR, DTaP, and varicella vaccines.. Ninety percent of unvaccinated individuals who come in contact with the measles virus will also become infected, and with the rising rate of measles prevalence all over the world, it is not hard to expect that many of these children will become infected.. With near total but not universal coverage, herd immunity can help protect people who cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons, but it begins to fall apart when exemptions are high and clustered together based on religious and social norms.. Would removing the religious exemption actually lead to increased vaccination rates?. Though the rate of medical exemptions increased, the overall prevalence of exemptions in the state decreased from 2.54 percent to 1.06 percent .. Now is the time to ban religious vaccine exemptions.. Flattum-Riemers and Alter are both recent graduates of Columbia’s Mailman School of Public Health and are public health educators who focus on vaccine communication.

While there is no overall data yet on exemptions for COVID-19 vaccines , a number of companies and state governments have seen interest in religious exemptions -- a protection stemming from the Civil Rights Act of 1964.. Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows that while requests for medical exemptions in schools remain low and fairly constant (around 0.3%), non-medical exemptions (including religious and personal belief exemptions) have risen from 1.4% in the 2011-'12 school year to 2.2% in the 2019-'20 school year (a 57% increase).. Ellen Wright Clayton, a professor of pediatrics, law and health policy at the Vanderbilt University Law School, believes that schools should take a stand against religious exemptions in the interest of protecting public health.. Forty-four states and the District of Columbia currently offer religious exemptions to vaccines, of which 15 offer broader personal belief exemptions for personal, moral or spiritual ideologies.. More religious exemptions despite decreasing religiousness. Williams, from the University of Colorado, noted that despite a decrease in religiosity among Americans, there has been an increase in religious exemption requests for vaccination, implying that these exemptions are “no longer serving their original purpose.”. In his research , Williams also investigated the influence of the availability of personal belief exemptions in states on the rate of religious exemptions for childhood vaccinations.. In 2016, Vermont eliminated its personal belief exemption policy which was followed by an increase in religious exemption applications from 0.5% to 3.7%.. This suggests that “perhaps people were increasingly using that religious exemption category, even though they might not necessarily have a religious objection to vaccines,” Williams said.. Unlike personal belief exemptions, which are relatively broad, religious exemptions have to be integrated into a holistic belief system, said Dorit Reiss, a professor of law at UC Hastings College of the Law.. In the face of a religious exemption application, employers or schools have the right to probe the exemption and question the applicant.. According to Williams, vaccine hesitancy and the misuse of religious exemptions can be attributed to not only a gap in knowledge caused due to vaccine misinformation and disinformation, but also due to a lack of trust between individuals and public health experts.. “It comes down to something scaring them of the vaccine and they’re using the religious exemption as a cover,” Reiss said.. When asked about alternatives to curb the spread of misinformation regarding vaccine side effects and composition and the misuse of religious exemptions, Williams suggested a collaboration with religious and faith leaders whom individuals have already built trust with.. With its relatively recent onset, experts agree that it might be too early to talk about the rate of religious exemptions on the COVID-19 vaccine mandate rollout.

So, as vaccines are increasingly available across the country, and increasingly even required by employers, how are we still in this same position?. This slow vaccination rate, coupled with the highly contagious Delta variant, is causing COVID-19 cases to grow while reducing the amount of hospital space and resources And although the Delta variant can still infect those who have received the vaccine, it is estimated that 98 to 99 percent of recent COVID-related deaths are among those who are unvaccinated.. Some communities have very valid reasons for not receiving the vaccine, from medical exemptions to lack of accessibility—especially among marginalized and disabled communities.. The Biden Administration recently announced that companies employing more than 100 people will have to require workers to be vaccinated or take weekly COVID tests.. Religious exemptions for school immunizations have been around for quite some time: forty-four states and Washington, DC still offer some form of religious exemption for students.. Over time, we’ve seen the dire effects of allowing such loopholes.. Following earlier guidance from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, many businesses that are instituting a vaccine mandate are allowing for religious objections .. This means that many who are attempting to utilize religious exemptions provided by the state or employers are most likely anti-vaxxers or those basing their decisions on poor data and conspiracy theories.. Although legal experts believe these won’t hold up in court, the process for accepting religious exemptions differs from state to state and from employer to employer.. These communities not only experience a higher risk of COVID-19 infection, but in many cases, they also have a harder time accessing COVID-19 vaccines .. Refusing to get vaccinated also puts immunocompromised individuals with valid medical exemptions at risk, making it harder and more dangerous for these communities to go back to school or into the office.. Although they will be facing legal challenges from opponents, the Governor has expressed the importance of this bill and the “public health impact that it has on our children, families, and communities.”

Compulsory coronavirus vaccination has been a specter hovering over vaccine skeptics throughout the pandemic, but the issue is coming to a head, after President Biden announced federal mandates affecting up to 100 million Americans and such enormous institutions as the Los Angeles Unified School District mandated vaccinations, too.. Opponents of vaccination mandates are ready to fight and are aiming to use religious, philosophical and personal-belief exemptions to abstain from required vaccinations.. In recent years, many states, including California, Connecticut, New York, Maine and Vermont, rolled back personal-belief exemptions from mandatory vaccination, making it nearly impossible to claim that individual convictions prevent you from being vaccinated.. Since most traditional religious institutions do not oppose vaccination, personal beliefs, whether “religious” or not, have been the only way for individuals to avoid vaccination mandates.. This group, now the National Vaccine Information Center, advocated for greater transparency about vaccine safety and ingredients, financial compensation for victims of vaccine injury and an alternative version of the vaccine.. Congress passed the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act in 1986 (under which the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program was created), and, after enough parents abstained from giving their children DPT shots and vaccine manufacturers saw significant financial losses, the vaccine was reformulated into an acellular version in the early 1990s (now the DTaP) known to have fewer possible side effects.. From 2003 to 2007 , the number of parents seeking and receiving religious exemptions from vaccination for kindergartners doubled or tripled in 20 of the 28 states where religious and philosophical exemptions were allowed at the time.. Rather than pressing for changes to the formulations of vaccinations, as their predecessors had for DPT, this movement’s goal was to opt out of vaccination (or specific vaccines) altogether, and to use state exemption policies to do so without being excluded from schools.. But with all major religions supporting vaccination, coronavirus vaccine opponents’ desires to avoid immunization will have little institutional backing or traditional religious doctrine to support their attestation to beliefs opposing vaccination.

That finding was driven primarily by the US, where measles has been spreading among religious communities in states that have allowed religious vaccine exemptions.. That’s mostly how outbreaks in religious communities have played out in the US.. The problem of vaccine doubt spreading in religious communities shows up in several countries.. “This finding is driven predominantly by the US, where people who have a religion are almost twice as likely to believe their religious teachings (60 percent) as science (32 percent) in cases of disagreement.”. Saad Omer, director of the Yale Institute for Global Health , who was not involved in the survey, noted that tightly knit groups that aren’t affiliated with any religion have also seen major outbreaks, though “there is substantial data to support that it’s mainly religious communities.”

As an ethicist and attorney practicing religious liberty law, we have engaged in dozens of conversations over the past few weeks regarding vaccination mandates, as well as religious exemptions.. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act prohibits discrimination on the basis of federally protected classes, including religion, and provides that applicable employers must provide a religious accommodation to an employee who holds a “sincerely held religious belief, practice, or observance” against a workplace requirement.. In this type of situation, they would claim the requirements violate their religious beliefs and seek formal religious exemptions.. Seeking a religious exemption should very clearly rest on apparent and applicable religious beliefs.. It is also important to remember that illegitimate appeals to religious liberty are perhaps the greatest threat to legal protections of religious liberty.. Appealing to a religious accommodation that is not sincerely held and uniformly applied dilutes legal options to appeal to when religious liberty is genuinely threatened in the future.. Whatever reasons a person may have for refusing vaccination, it is important to resist the temptation to endow those reasons with religious significance merely as a strategy for securing exemption from an employer mandate.. As stated, the request for a religious exemption should rest on the foundation of a sincere and applicable religious belief.

Toni Wilkinson said faith guided her decision not to vaccinate her three youngest children.. Kentucky is among 47 states that allow some form of religious exemption from vaccination requirements for children to attend public schools.. Some measles outbreaks in New York and Ohio have been associated with religious communities opposed to vaccination, and that has intensified the debate about religious exemptions.. While Kentucky and Ohio allow the exemptions, West Virginia does not.. “While the Catholic Church does not oppose vaccinations in principle, it does consider as morally illicit the development of vaccines from aborted fetal tissues,” the statement read.. Researchers found that people in those communities made up nearly half of the cases in the national outbreak.. Gaskell said that outbreak began after Amish men traveled to the Philippines, which still has a high number of measles cases.. “There has not been any talk about eliminating exemptions to vaccines in Kentucky that I'm aware of at this point,” Kentucky’s Public Health Commissioner Dr. Jeffrey Howard said.. Gottlieb said religious exemptions are on the rise along with the number of cases of measles.

In 1 Corinthians, Paul writes, “do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, which you have from God, and that you are not your own?. For you were bought with a price; therefore glorify God in your body.” (1 Corinthians6:19-20) Here, Paul is repeating a refrain from earlier in this same letter: “Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?” (3:16). And yet, Paul sees no reason for this to cause strife: “We are God’s servants, working together; you are … God’s building.” Paul and Apollos cooperate in building on the foundation that Christ himself laid.. Far from suggesting that the Holy Spirit cannot dwell in a body that is physically contaminated by illness, microchips, medicines, or other substances, Paul is urging them to keep themselves free from sin .. Paul has something similar in view in his second letter to the Corinthians: “let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and of spirit, making holiness perfect in the fear of God” (2 Corinthians 7:1).. If the Holy Spirit cannot dwell in a body that has been contaminated by chemicals or debilitated by injury (let alone in a body injected with a safe and effective vaccine), then countless people who have fallen victim to natural or manmade disasters would be bereft of the presence of God.

SAN DIEGO, CA - SEPTEMBER 28: Anti-vaccine protest outside of the San Diego Unified School District ... [+] office to protest a forced vaccination mandate for students.. (Photo by Sandy Huffaker/Getty Images). Getty ImagesEven if the federal government’s authority to institute a general vaccine mandate is unclear, it is quite possibly justified from a Constitutional law standpoint.. Moreover, even though there is a secular exception that allows people to be exempt from a vaccine mandate—for example, if a person has medical contraindications—the exception does not undermine the government’s interest.. It is part and parcel with it.. Private employers who institute vaccine mandates also have a legitimate leg to stand on from a purely juridical standpoint.. But questioning a person’s religious claims will rarely come across as respectful, and the devolution of religion in America has turned everyone into their own religious authority.. However, claiming a religious exemption means something much greater than preferring not to be vaccinated.. When someone claims that a certain act goes against their religious identity, they are saying that it goes against who they are as a person.. Even if employees will submit to vaccine mandate pressure against their religious identity, a company’s increase in vaccination compliance may come at the expense of other goals and values, such as employee retention, productivity, and satisfaction.. Ultimately, coerced employees may leave for other opportunities.. Coercion need not only come in the form of physical force.. Delta Airlines seems to understand the negative impact of coercive mandates and the benefits of alternative strategies—on both increasing their vaccination rate and maintaining a non-threatening work environment.. Most importantly, this policy gives people who are claiming religious exemption time to consider, not whether they should uphold their beliefs or not, but rather whether the information on which they are basing their beliefs—such as how the vaccines are made and how they work—is accurate or not.. Delta Airline’s approach is a good a model for companies that want to maximize their overall goals of creating a safe environment, retaining employees and maintaining productivity instead of limiting their focus only to increasing vaccination compliance.

Researchers say more parents are using religious exemptions against vaccinations as more states get rid of personal exemption statutes.. A new study suggests that “problematic, outdated” religious exemptions to vaccines are on the rise because fewer parents can cite personal beliefs for why they’re not vaccinating their children.. This is occurring even though few religions have stated objections to vaccinating children.. Nonetheless, some of the larger outbreaks of vaccine preventable infections in recent years have occurred in communities united in, among other things, their religious beliefs.. The use of vaccine exemptions is of particular concern as the United States is coming out of a problematic year for vaccine preventable diseases, namely measles .. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), as of October 3 there were 1,250 confirmed measles cases in 31 states, with the majority occurring in New York.. Experts attribute the rise to growing numbers of unvaccinated kids with their parents typically grouped together in geographic location as well as around personal — or religious — beliefs.. The Colorado-based team of pediatricians and public health researchers found that from 2011 to 2018, in the 15 states that allow both personal and religious exemptions, kindergarteners were one-fourth less likely to have parents who cited religious beliefs for not vaccinating their child.. The researchers noted that Vermont ranked second to last in all 50 states when it came to strong religious beliefs the year before the policy changed.. But researchers don’t think people are suddenly converting to religions that prevent them from vaccinating their children.. Instead, parents are using religion for “personal religious exemptions,” meaning they personally believe their religion exempts them from vaccinations, he said.. More states are passing laws limiting vaccine exemptions.. Those protesters and others who oppose restricting vaccine exceptions typically don’t voice their concerns about vaccines citing scripture, but rather on whether the government has the right to force vaccines on children, or if the vaccine and the current vaccination schedule are safe.

As the COVID-19 crisis deepens and communities across the country struggle with a shortage of hospital beds, support is falling for religious exemptions to vaccine mandates.. In general, Americans are skeptical of those who say vaccine mandates, like the one proposed this month by President Joe Biden that will affect private employers with more than 100 workers, violate their religious freedom.. Here’s what you need to know about those ongoing cases and the broader debate surrounding religious exemptions to vaccine mandates:. Requests for religious exemptions to COVID-19 vaccine mandates are controversial for the same reason that requests for religious exemptions to any vaccine mandate are controversial: Almost no faith group formally opposes vaccination.. “There is no actual religious basis for exemptions from vaccine mandates in any established stream of Christianity,” argued Curtis Chang, a former pastor, in a recent op-ed for The New York Times .. “If the employer is already providing such accommodations for those who cannot be vaccinated because of a health conditions that genuinely prevents vaccination ... it may be difficult to justify not providing them for those with a genuine religious objection to vaccination,” Cook wrote for the Deseret News.. It’s likely that some Americans take advantage of the relative ease of accessing religious exemptions and claim them even when their vaccine concerns aren’t primarily religious, according to legal experts.. Currently, there are several cases involving religious objectors to vaccine mandates working their way through the legal system.. In Connecticut, officials are awaiting a court decision on whether they can stop offering religious exemptions to public school vaccine rules.. In cases involving religious objections to vaccine mandates, officials who support the challenged mandate are typically required to articulate why the availability of a religious exemption would put public health at risk.. One thing that supporters and detractors of religious exemptions agree on is that the legal battle over vaccine mandates is far from over.

States that offer religious exemptions but do not provide personal belief exemptions are four times as likely to have kindergartners with religious exemptions, compared with states that grant both types of exemption, the December 2019 paper in Pediatrics reveals.. When schools ban all exemptions except for medical exemptions, medical exemptions increase.. Kindergarteners are less likely to get vaccine exemptions for religious or philosophical reasons when schools require their parents to get medical counseling and a signed form from a health care provider before they can be considered for exemptions.. A main takeaway: Not only are nonmedical exemptions much more common than medical exemptions, a growing percentage of kindergarteners have received nonmedical exemptions.. Six of the studies report on the percentage of health care personnel who received religious or medical exemptions to the flu vaccine requirement, finding that religious exemptions were less common than medical exemptions at the health care facilities studied.. “Although the rise in medical exemptions could indicate that some children who may have received nonmedical exemptions in the past are now receiving medical exemptions, the net effect following the California policy was still an increase in vaccination coverage,” the researchers write.

This speed is due in large part to the concerted and concentrated efforts by governments, medical providers, researchers, local communities, and pharmaceutical companies around the world.. This was seen most recently in the announcement from the Food and Drug Administration in the United States which gave the first full approval to the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines.. Many of the pressing concerns and ethical quandaries have been addressed by medical professionals, as well as Christian ethicists , who support their use and wide distribution throughout society.. As the likelihood of vaccine requirements for certain aspects of society become more of a reality, many pastors and church leaders will also be involved in these decisions because people may seek religious accommodation in order to not take the vaccine.. Religious objectors may be entitled to accommodations in some circumstances.” ADF also encourages anyone seeking these types of religious accommodations or exemptions from vaccine mandates to seek to determine whether one’s objections actually rise to the level of a religious objection, not simply a medical, social, or political objection.. Pastors and ministry leaders need to take caution in counseling or even endorsing these types of exemptions because of the gravity of the moral and conscience-based issues involved.. Not only can it be disingenuous to claim a religious exemption when one is not present, but spurious claims can also damage the integrity of other religious freedom assertions in the future and what level of trust religious organizations still have in society.. Therefore, pastors and ministry leaders should proceed with caution if asked to give counsel or endorse a religious exemption claim to vaccine mandates.. Still, it is important to remember that approaching questions about religious liberty claims is something of deep consequence.. We must not allow or give support to mere personal or political preferences masquerading as religious liberty claims.

Yet parents can opt out of one or more vaccines for medical, religious, or personal reasons.. Vaccine exemption laws vary from state to state.. Many of the people who got sick lived in communities where there were groups of unvaccinated people.. In 2020, the number of cases of measles in the U.S. declined for the first time in six years.. Other states soon followed with their own vaccination laws.. States have had to balance people's rights to personal and religious beliefs with the need to protect public health.. Parents can ask for a medical exemption if a vaccine wouldn't be safe for their child.. Reasons that children can get an exemption include:. To get a medical exemption, parents need to have their child's doctor sign a form.. This exemption allows parents to opt their child out of vaccines based on their religious beliefs.. One reason was that some doctors began writing medical exemptions for parents who had personal objections to vaccines.. States that make it easy to get nonmedical exemptions have more exemptions, and higher rates of vaccine-preventable diseases, than states with tougher laws, research finds.

In Washington state, thousands of state workers are seeking similar exemptions.. The allowance was enshrined in the federal Civil Rights Act of 1964, which says employers must make reasonable accommodations for employees who object to work requirements because of “sincerely held” religious beliefs.. Roman Catholic leaders in New Orleans and St. Louis went so far as to call Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 shot “morally compromised.” J&J has stressed that there is no fetal tissue in its vaccine.. The city has mandated that municipal employees get vaccinated by Oct. 5 unless they are granted a medical or religious exemption.. Jay Inslee that they be fully vaccinated by Oct. 18 or lose their job, unless they obtain a medical or religious exemption and receive an accommodation that allows them to remain employees.. As of Tuesday, more than 3,800 workers had requested religious exemptions.. The form asks people to sign it and attest that “my sincerely held religious belief is consistent and true and I do not use or will not use” any of the listed medications.

An estimated 2,600 Los Angeles Police Department employees are citing religious objections to try to get out of the required COVID-19 vaccination.. In Washington state, thousands of state workers are seeking similar exemptions.. In the states, mask and vaccine requirements vary, but most offer exemptions for certain medical conditions or religious or philosophical objections.. The allowance was enshrined in the federal Civil Rights Act of 1964, which says employers must make reasonable accommodations for employees who object to work requirements because of “sincerely held” religious beliefs.. That puts employers in the position of determining what is a legitimate religious belief and what is a dodge.. He is a Catholic who believes fetal stem cells were experimented with in making the vaccine.. “A lot of these people who have signed ... have already taken the vaccine.. The city has mandated that municipal employees get vaccinated by Oct. 5 unless they are granted a medical or religious exemption.. Jay Inslee that they be fully vaccinated by Oct. 18 or lose their job, unless they obtain a medical or religious exemption and receive an accommodation that allows them to remain employees.. As of Tuesday, more than 3,800 workers had requested religious exemptions.. So far, 737 have been approved, but officials stressed that an exemption does not guarantee continued employment.. In Arkansas, about 5% of the staff at the privately run Conway Regional Health System has requested religious or medical exemptions.. The form asks people to sign it and attest that “my sincerely held religious belief is consistent and true and I do not use or will not use” any of the listed medications.

Opponents may challenge vaccination requirements based on claims of religious liberty or under specific laws that would allow for a religious exemption from any COVID-19 vaccine mandates.. But other experts have raised the possibility of a vaccine being mandatory as part of a “if/then” proposition – in other words, someone can only do something if they are first vaccinated.. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission suggests that a request to be exempted from an employer’s flu vaccination mandate based on “sincerely held religious belief, practice, or observances” would be protected under Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.. The guidance doesn’t explicitly state that the same rule would apply for COVID-19 – because there is no COVID-19 vaccine at this time – but it seems clear that the commission would prefer that “employers consider simply encouraging employees” to get vaccinated.. There are no Constitutional or ethical obligations to require an opt out to a vaccine that may be key to stopping a pandemic, should a state wish to prioritize protecting their residents from COVID-19 through mandating vaccination.. However, as the Supreme Court stated in 1941 , “The right to practice religion freely does not include liberty to expose the community … to communicable disease.” Justice Antonin Scalia, speaking for the court nearly 50 years later , came to a similar conclusion that laws advancing civic obligations such as compulsory vaccination may override claims of religious freedom.

Videos

1. Community reacts to NY banning religious exemptions for vaccines
(PIX11 News)
2. IL may halt vaccine religious exemptions
(Newsy)
3. Advocates worry military vaccine challenges could jeopardize other religious freedom cases
(KPBS Public Media)
4. New York ends religious exemption to vaccine requirements
(Eyewitness News ABC7NY)
5. Debate over vaccine exemption bill
(KING 5)
6. Religious exemptions from COVID-19 vaccine mandates grow
(CBS News)

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