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AMA supports tighter limit on non-medical vaccine exemptions

West Virginia and Mississippi are the only states in the country that already ban non-medical exemptions.

By
Stephen Feller
The AMA approved a policy to more tightly limit non-medical exemptions from vaccination in order to help prevent future outbreaks of diseases thought eliminated from the U.S. population. Photo: JPC-PROD\Shutterstock
The AMA approved a policy to more tightly limit non-medical exemptions from vaccination in order to help prevent future outbreaks of diseases thought eliminated from the U.S. population. Photo: JPC-PROD\Shutterstock

CHICAGO, June 10 (UPI) -- Following outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases in the United States in the last couple of years, the American Medical Association approved a policy to seek tighter limits on non-medical exemptions to vaccinations.

The policy specifically recommends that states establish a method to involve "qualified public health physicians" to determine the vaccines required for admission to schools, as well as that physicians and public health officials be obligated to accept immunization in the absence of an accepted medical reason.

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"As evident from the recent measles outbreak at Disneyland, protecting community health in today's mobile society requires that policymakers not permit individuals from opting out of immunization solely as a matter of personal preference or convenience," said AMA board member Dr. Patrice Harris in a press release.

A law in California is currently moving through the state legislature's health committee that would bar non-medical exemptions.

The law was motivated by the Disneyland measles outbreak in December, which eventually grew to 136 people contracting the disease. If the law is eventually approved by legislators and signed by the governor, that state would become only the third in the country, after West Virginia and Mississippi, to eliminate the exemptions.

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Immunization programs in the United States have controlled or eliminated the spread of epidemic diseases, including smallpox, measles, mumps, rubella, diphtheria and polio.

"When people are immunized they also help prevent the spread of disease to others," Harris said.

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