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Illinois tried tightening up religious exemption for vaccinations, but failed

Friday, Jun 14, 2019

* Elyse Forkosh Cutler, president and founder of Sage Health Strategy

In Illinois, children can obtain religious exemptions from mandated vaccines. In 2015, Illinois tightened the religious exemption requirement—parents claiming a religious exemption now must obtain certification from a physician that they have received education on vaccine safety. The logic at the time was that the number of religious exemptions in Illinois would fall.

Unfortunately, we were wrong. In 2013, before the law’s passage, there were 13,000 Illinois children claiming a religious exemption. This past year, the number of religious exemptions was up 46 percent, to over 19,000. Today, more than 100,000 Illinois schoolchildren attend a school with a measles vaccine rate of less than 95 percent. This is the threshold for “herd immunity,” meaning these schools are at increased risk of an outbreak. The large increase in religious exemptions also makes clear that parents opt-out of vaccination because of misinformation, not religious practice. The social media echo chamber has so frightened parents that some now don’t even trust their pediatrician.

So now what? The General Assembly needs to take up legislation in the fall veto session eliminating the religious exemption. That is what California did after a 2014 outbreak that started in Disneyland infected nearly 150 people. At that time, the vaccination rate in California was 92 percent. It is now nearly 98 percent.

In the meantime, there are steps the state can take now. The Illinois State Board of Education should issue a public report listing schools with low vaccination rates. Parents deserve to know if they are putting their children at risk. Additionally, the IDPH religious exemption process must be redesigned to prevent fraud. At present, all someone wanting a religious exemption for their child must do is give a doctor a form to sign that says the parent received vaccine-safety education. It’s all done on paper and there is no process to verify that a licensed clinician signed the form.

We all had hoped the law passed in 2014 would increase vaccination rates. We were wrong. The General Assembly must again step in and prevent Illinois from becoming the next ground zero for measles.

There are no constitutional protections that allow you to put the population at risk of deadly disease outbreaks. Look it up if you don’t believe me.

The governor has taken some unilateral actions to step up vaccinations. But it’s not gonna be enough as long as legions of clever dimwits and grifters are fooling more and more people into thinking they and their children don’t need to be vaccinated.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

26 Comments
  1. - El Conquistador - Friday, Jun 14, 19 @ 1:27 pm:

    Truth Rich. Although, I might define the anti-vac crowd a bit more harshly. We are in an age of misguided ignorance on many fronts.


  2. - Bourbon Street - Friday, Jun 14, 19 @ 1:31 pm:

    Let’s not forget the celebrity crowd in your list, Rich, of those who are pushing the anti-vaccination agenda. Honestly, why parents would rather listen to Jenny McCarthy than their pediatrician is a total mystery to me.


  3. - Rich Miller - Friday, Jun 14, 19 @ 1:32 pm:

    ===Let’s not forget the celebrity crowd===

    “legions of clever dimwits”


  4. - Three Dimensional Checkers - Friday, Jun 14, 19 @ 1:33 pm:

    How about making the parent or parents prove their actual association with a religious group that disapproves of vaccinations, like by making a pastor or someone else verify their membership in such a religious organization? I do not think this Supreme Court would agree with you Rich that the state could remove the religious exemption entirely.


  5. - Rich Miller - Friday, Jun 14, 19 @ 1:35 pm:

    === I do not think ===

    I do not care.


  6. - Rich Miller - Friday, Jun 14, 19 @ 1:40 pm:

    ===prove their actual association with a religious group that disapproves of vaccinations===

    lol

    And how would we do that? By certifying religious organizations by vaccination stances? That would be pretty unconstitutional.


  7. - Jocko - Friday, Jun 14, 19 @ 1:42 pm:

    Jessica Biel: “I believe in giving doctors and the families they treat the ability to decide what’s best for their patients and the ability to provide that treatment.”

    Then why come out in opposition to the bill?


  8. - Three Dimensional Checkers - Friday, Jun 14, 19 @ 1:46 pm:

    == And how would we do that? ==

    Make them fill out a form. The law would not need to certify a religious organization’s vaccination stance. The form could just state the the parent belongs to a religion that does not approve of vaccination. The parent could even invent their own religion. But, the state could fine the parent if the parent lies on the form.


  9. - Three Dimensional Checkers - Friday, Jun 14, 19 @ 1:52 pm:

    The state could argue that the purpose of the law is not to hinder religious practice, but to prevent people from dropping out of vaccination because of their belief in junk science. The state makes people fill out affidavits for all kinds of things from police brutality claims to public benefits. Why not include the religious exemption as well?


  10. - Jocko - Friday, Jun 14, 19 @ 2:01 pm:

    ==By certifying religious organizations by vaccination stances==

    Unless you’re Christian Scientist or member of the Dutch Reformed Church…you don’t have a leg to stand on. Your personal beliefs shouldn’t give you the right to endanger public safety


  11. - JoanP - Friday, Jun 14, 19 @ 2:04 pm:

    =The parent could even invent their own religion. =

    Really? Then the exception would swallow the rule.


  12. - Pundent - Friday, Jun 14, 19 @ 2:09 pm:

    =prove their actual association with a religious group=

    Your association with any group, religious or otherwise, does not afford you the right to put the health of others at risk.


  13. - Perrid - Friday, Jun 14, 19 @ 2:28 pm:

    Jocko, Jessica Biel seems to think that the bill will make it harder to get MEDICAL exemptions for certain people, which is why she came out against the bill. From what I have read she’s wrong.


  14. - Captain Obvious - Friday, Jun 14, 19 @ 2:44 pm:

    The state can remove the religious exemption because they have an overriding public interest in keeping the population free from harmful or deadly diseases which have a high probability of occurring with the exemption in place. They should do this forthwith.


  15. - A Jack - Friday, Jun 14, 19 @ 3:00 pm:

    I am surprised some enterprising State’s Attorney has not sued social media for allowing the posting of false and misleading claims that could result in a clear and present public danger. Such claims are not protected speech under the Constitution.


  16. - Nonbeliever - Friday, Jun 14, 19 @ 3:03 pm:

    This whole religious exemption really bugs me. It should not exist. Peoples health and maybe even lives are at stake.

    Perhaps there might be medical exemptions as to not have them and if there are that is another issue.


  17. - PJ - Friday, Jun 14, 19 @ 3:03 pm:

    ==sued social media for allowing the posting==

    As someone who wishes all anti-vaxxers would be ejected into the sun, I’m glad no one has done this because all it would do is earn some easy paychecks for twitter’s lawyers.


  18. - Moby - Friday, Jun 14, 19 @ 3:04 pm:

    == The social media echo chamber has so frightened parents that some now don’t even trust their pediatrician. ==

    Except for when their kids contract the measles.


  19. - Three Dimensional Checkers - Friday, Jun 14, 19 @ 3:05 pm:

    ==Then the exception would swallow the rule.==

    The rule is simply that you cannot lie about your religious beliefs just for the purpose of not having your children vaccinated. That rule would apply regardless of a particular religious belief.


  20. - Rich Miller - Friday, Jun 14, 19 @ 3:11 pm:

    === The parent could even invent their own religion===

    And so what the heck is the point then? You’ve accomplished zero.


  21. - Lake County Mom - Friday, Jun 14, 19 @ 3:11 pm:

    Jessica Biel lied. She is in fact an anti-vaxxer. Biel made it sound as though California’s bill SB276 removed medical exemptions. It does not. What it does is insure that medical exemptions are legitimate to avoid quack doctors using exemptions as loopholes.


  22. - Amalia - Friday, Jun 14, 19 @ 3:16 pm:

    if I had a kid in school now, I would want to know which kids were not vaccinated. harsh, but truth. vaccinate. now.


  23. - Three Dimensional Checkers - Friday, Jun 14, 19 @ 3:22 pm:

    ==And so what the heck is the point then? You’ve accomplished zero.==

    The courts do not want to be in the business of defining what is a religion and what is not a religion. But if you claim you don’t want to vaccinate your kids because of a religious belief, then never do anything else associated with that religion, then you’ve lied about your religious belief. I can’t explain the difference between the truth and lies more than that.


  24. - Still Trying - Friday, Jun 14, 19 @ 3:55 pm:

    ==I do not think this Supreme Court would agree with you Rich that the state could remove the religious exemption entirely.==

    The SC has ruled on this many times, going back at least 100 years. See Jacobsen v. Massachusetts (1905) and Prince v. Massachusetts (1944)

    “It is within the police power of a State to enact a compulsory vaccination law, and it is for the legislature, and not for the courts, to determine in the first instance whether vaccination is or is not the best mode for the prevention of [disease] and the protection of the public health.”

    https://supreme.justia.com/cases/federal/us/197/11/

    “The right to practice religion freely does not include liberty to expose the community or the child to communicable disease”

    https://supreme.justia.com/cases/federal/us/321/158/


  25. - Honk Honkler - Sunday, Jun 16, 19 @ 1:41 pm:

    So my unvaccinated kid is a danger to your vaccinated kid? LOL
    Check Children’s Heath Initiative by Robert Kennedy Jr.


  26. - Rich Miller - Sunday, Jun 16, 19 @ 2:35 pm:

    ===my unvaccinated kid is a danger to your vaccinated kid? LOL===

    No. Your unvaccinated kid is a mortal danger to kids who are too sick or are too young to be vaccinated. I let this comment through because your attitude is so horribly selfish and stupid.

    I also wanted to post your IP address: 47.50.171.66

    Vaccinate your kids before you kill somebody.


Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.


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