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In 1905, the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed the legal authority of state governments to pass laws requiring citizens residing in the state to use smallpox vaccine (or other vaccines) if the state considers mass use of the vaccine necessary to protect the "public health".
As of 2011, all 50 states have enacted vaccine laws that require proof children have received certain vaccines in order to attend daycare, middle school, high school and college.
However, in most states citizens currently have the legal right to opt out of using vaccines.
All 50 states allow a medical exemption to vaccination (medical exemptions must be approved by an M.D. or D.O.); 48 states allow a religious exemption to vaccination; and 18 states allow a personal, philosophical or conscientious belief exemption to vaccination.
However, also be aware that vaccine exemptions are currently under attack in every state because the wealthy and powerful Pharma/Medical Industry lobby is trying to take them away, especially the religious and philosophical or conscientious belief exemptions.
All Americans need to know options for legally opting-out of vaccinations, but also need to know why it's so important to protect this legal option, whether or not you choose to use every government recommended vaccine for yourself and your children.
Interested in Using the Religious Exemption to Vaccination?
The religious exemption to vaccination is one way you can protect your religious freedom and human right to exercise voluntary, informed consent to medical risk-taking. The right to life and liberty is what the United States was founded on, after all, and the first amendment of the U.S. Constitution was put in place to protect your right to worship freely.
All but two states (West Virginia and Mississippi) allow religious exemption to vaccination. The legal language defining religious exemptions are worded differently in different state laws and there are different kinds of written documentation that must be submitted to state governments when filing this vaccine exemption.
Many mistakenly believe that in order to claim a religious exemption to vaccination, you must belong to an organized religion or be a member of a church that "officially" opposes vaccination. -- but this is not the case! If you belong to a church or an organized religion (Christian, Jewish, Muslim, etc) that does not take an official position opposing vaccination, this does not prevent you from following your spiritual beliefs and filing a religious exemption to vaccination.
In America, there is a constitutional right to worship freely and follow individual spiritual beliefs and conscience.
In fact, many organized religions, such as Catholicism, do emphasize the "duty to obey the certain judgement of conscience" and act in ways that do not violate conscience. However, U.S. law prohibits discrimination against citizens based on religious belief and so you can also hold personal spiritual beliefs about vaccination that allow you to claim a religious exemption.
As long as your beliefs about vaccination are religious/spiritual in nature; are sincerely and truly held; and you are able to define and attest to your beliefs in a state court, if necessary, you should be able to file and receive a religious exemption to vaccination for yourself or your child. Remember that the religious and concientious belief exemptions to vaccination are being threatened in many states so you need to be prepared to defend your spiritual beliefs about vaccination to school, health or other state officials. In some cases this may even progress further to include your being questioned by state attorneys.
However, if your religious beliefs about vaccination are deeply and sincerely held, do not let this sway you from standing up for your right to worship freely and exercise religious belief exemption to vaccination.
As James Filenbaum, attorney at law, explains:
"A parent's religious "beliefs" are sufficient to qualify for the religious exemption. The
"belief" is defined as a faith that occupies a place in their lives parallel to that held by the orthodox belief in God or any sincere religious beliefs which are based upon a power or being to which all else is subordinate and on which all else is ultimately dependent
They qualify if they believe that not giving the vaccines is what they must do to follow God's will for them in fulfilling their role as responsible parents. Their child's immune system is a creation of God and that God has given their child and that to vaccinate would violate their faith in what God created.
The parents do NOT have to be part of a recognized religious organization. You don't have to join any church, you can be any religion at all. But if they are a part of an established religion (Catholic, Protestant, Islam, etc.) they can still have their own perceptions of what it means to follow God's will which may be counter to what that organization states.
The case is established with legal precedent at the US Supreme Court level. (United States Supreme Court in Sharon Levy vs. Northcourt cases)
The important rule here is that if a school district denies religious exemption they are violating your federally protected civil rights under the first amendment by what is called state action and under federal law you are entitled to money damages."
Unfortunately, the religious exemption is being targeted for elimination by lobbyists working for pharmaceutical corporations and medical trade associations funded by Pharma. In some states, like New York, parents are being grilled about the sincerity of their religious beliefs by state officials and denied religious exemptions to vaccination for the purpose of barring their partially vaccinated or unvaccinated chidlren from attending public schools.
Your Spiritual Advisor Can Support Your Religious Exemption
Some states require a notarized affidavit or letter from a spiritual advisor attesting to the sincerity of a person's religious beliefs about vaccination.
Even if your state does not require a notarized affadavit from a spiritual advisor in order to file a religious exemption to vaccination, you may want to obtain added support by sitting down and talking with your minister, pastor, priest, rabbi or another trusted spiritual counselor. Explain to him or her why you have deeply held spiritual and conscientioiusly held beliefs on the matter of vaccination and ask for a letter that attests to the sincerity of your beliefs. If you are ever questioned,you will have a letter from your spiritual advisor to provide to whomever is questioning you.
Two Other Types of Vaccine Exemptions: Medical and Conscientious Belief
All 50 states allow a medical exemption to vaccination if you or your child has a verifiable medical reason to defer or avoid use of one or more vaccines.
Unfortunately, since 1986 the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) have eliminated most officially recognized medical reasons for withholding vaccination (contraindications) so that almost no medical condition qualifies for a medical exemption to vaccination. In most states, a medical exemption to vaccination written by a medical doctor can be denied if the medical reason given does not strictly conform to CDC and AAP contraindication guidelines.
Medical exemptions to vaccination must be written by a medical doctor (M.D.) or doctor of osteopathy (D.O.) and are usually reviewed annually by school or state health officials.
Depending on where you live, you may have the option of using a philosophical or conscientious belief exemption. This exemption, like the religious exemption, is under attack by forced vaccination proponents who want to eliminate non-medical exemptions to vaccination in America. Eighteen states allow conscientious, personal or philosophical belief exemption to vaccination. These states come the closest to protecting a citizen's right to exercise voluntary, informed consent to vaccination in America.