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Anxious to limit exemptions to vaccination, states face fierce resistance

Opponents describe stricter laws as an infringement of parental rights and freedom of religion. In Washington State, the opposition was so fierce that legislators only succeeded in eliminating exemptions based on personal beliefs and not on religion – and only on the measles, mumps and rubella.

Parents can continue to use religious exemptions to avoid MR. vaccine, and may cite other personal or moral beliefs to avoid other childhood vaccines.

"We would have preferred to remove the personal exemption for all vaccines, but we were not able – there has been so much political reluctance," said state representative, Monica Stonier , a democrat who also represents Vancouver. "We just wanted to do something."

Opposition to vaccines has been around for as long as vaccines themselves. Massachusetts became the first state to impose smallpox vaccination in the early 1800s, and in 1827 Boston became the first city to require the vaccine for schoolchildren. Nearly half of the states needed vaccines in the early 20th century. But they have not been uniformly applied and some have been repealed after protests.

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Officials from Cambridge, Massachusetts, sought to enforce the law during a smallpox epidemic in 1902 and laid charges against Henning Jacobson, a resident who refused to be vaccinated because a previous vaccine against smallpox had made him sick, as well as his son. The case was brought before the Supreme Court, which ruled in 1905 that states had the power to make vaccinations mandatory.

Today, the National Conference of State Legislatures, a bipartite organization that closely monitors immunization legislation in all 50 states, imposes certain vaccinations on school-going students, with exceptions for children who can not attend. not tolerate them because of underlying health problems.

Most states also grant waivers to people who oppose vaccination for religious reasons, and until recently, 16 states allowed derogations based on personal, moral, philosophical or other beliefs, according to N.C.S.L.

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