The Trump administration is considering revoking key requirements for school vaccinations, a reversal that would change the course of a decades-long movement that has dramatically increased vaccination rates in the United States.
New legislation would restrict parents’ ability to opt out of vaccinations on religious grounds, and to opt out of vaccinations for medical reasons for their children, CNN reported on Tuesday.
In a draft of the legislation obtained by CNN, the Trump administration is considering having the US Department of Health and Human Services “authorize and issue regulations to withdraw certain exemptions under the school-vaccination requirement, including the nonmedical exemption, the religious exemption, and the medical exemption.”
The draft also proposes requiring students who have not been vaccinated to receive at least 21 days of a state vaccine plan in order to be allowed back in school, which would be a change from the current law, which requires families to receive 21 days of a state vaccine plan.
More than 30 states already have laws requiring children to get vaccinated. Since 2015, 29 states have passed laws that require students to be vaccinated before they can return to school, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
Some of the laws extend nonmedical exemptions beyond religious and medical grounds, which currently allow for parents to opt out of immunizations if a physician explains that religious or medical objections justify their decision.
“Of the 43 million Americans not vaccinated because of their nonmedical objection, only 29% are based on religious or medical reasons, while the vast majority — 79% — are due to personal beliefs,” according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.
The current rules have proven controversial in the United States. In California, a state with the fifth-highest vaccination rate in the nation, a new law will restrict the use of religious and personal exemptions for school vaccinations, according to the state health department.
“I think it’s one of the most draconian state laws I’ve ever seen,” California State Sen. Richard Pan, a doctor, told CNN on Tuesday.
“This law ends personal belief exemption and will require vaccination for school entry. It’s also one of the strongest laws in the nation,” added Pan, who sponsored the bill that was recently signed into law.
“This has been a long time coming,” Pan said. “Parents should be able to choose for their children, but when there’s evidence that a vaccine may cause harm, particularly in those who are most vulnerable — for example, infants — we should err on the side of safety.”
California was the first state to require mandatory vaccines for school entry in 1990.
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