Friday, December 7, 2018

Number of Ky. parents claiming religious exemption for kids' shots rises 59% after new state rule makes exemption easier to get

Lexington Herald-Leader photo
More Kentucky children are not being immunized "for medical and religious reasons," Ashleigh Mills reports for Spectrum News. "Doctors worry the number could be growing because of misinformation circulating online."

In the last school year, parents of 442 sixth graders exempted them from vaccines. That was only 1.5 percent of the total, but an increase of 59 percent from the 278 in the 2016-17 school year.

One likely reason for the increase was a regulation enacted by the administration of Gov. Matt Bevin, which made it easier for parents to invoke a religious exemption. It allows them to download a form, have it notarized and submit it to their school upon enrollment, instead of having to obtain it from their health-care provider along with their signature.

"Groups like the Kentucky Vaccine Rights Coalition support the exemptions and health choice not to vaccinate," Mills reports. "However, Spectrum News One was turned down for an interview with the group."

Julie Miracle, a nurse consultant with the Cabinet for Health and Family Services, told Mills, "I think there is miscommunication out there. I think that people are looking on the internet, and there’s you know, false information out there. [Children] would not be protected, and so when they get those exemptions, that they are vulnerable to those diseases."

Miracle encourages parents to use authoritative sources, such as the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, for information on vaccines.

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