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10.19.2007

To vaccinate or lie -- an autism dilemma

I signed one -- but in PA, the exemption is just not for religious reasons. Here's a snippet from PA code (note the part in bold):

"Religious exemption. Children need not be immunized if the parent, guardian or emancipated child objects in writing to the immunization on religious grounds or on the basis of a strong moral or ethical conviction similar to a religious belief."

And here's the Associated Press story as printed in the Boston Herald...

Parents take a shot at lying on vaccine forms
By Associated Press Thursday, October 18, 2007
Records show that a small but growing number of parents are claiming religious exemptions to avoid vaccinating their children, when the real reason is skepticism over their effectiveness or concern the shots may cause other illnesses.
Some say they are forced to lie because of the way the laws are written. Massachusetts and 27 other states allow parents to opt out for medical or religious reasons only.
Sabrina Rahim is not religious, but signed the form. She fears that earlier vaccinations may be to blame for her son’s autism.
State records and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data show rising rates of religious exemptions.
Dr. Paul Offit, head of infectious diseases at Philadelphia Children’s Hospital, and a harsh critic of skipping vaccines, said doing so is “irrational.”
The number of exemptions is just a few thousand of 3.7 million children entering kindergarten.
In Massachusetts, the number has more than doubled, from 0.24 percent, or 210, in 1996 to 0.60 percent, or 474, in 2006.
Officials say refusing vaccines carries a risk of disease outbreaks.
“You’re not just making a choice for yourself, you’re making a choice for the person sitting next to you,” said the CDC’s Dr. Lance Rodewald.
Rachel Magni, 35, a mom in Newton, is afraid of vaccines for her children. She got a religious exemption for her daughter, 4, and son, 1. “I felt that the risk of the vaccine was worse than the risk of the actual disease,” she said.
Dr. Janet Levitan, a Brookline pediatrician, tells worried patients to pursue the exemption. “I tell them, ‘If you don’t want to vaccinate for philosophical reasons and the state doesn’t allow that, say it’s for religious reasons,’ ” she said.

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