The US Food and Drug Administration official warns that states could "force the hands of federal health agencies" if they continue to allow vaccine exemptions in the event of a measles outbreak.
FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb told CNN on Tuesday that the federal government could step in if "some states keep up the momentum".
"Some states have put in place exemptions of such magnitude that they create a risk of epidemics of a magnitude that will have national implications," Gottlieb warned.
A measles epidemic has broken down in the state of Washington, resulting in the declaration of a public health emergency.
The outbreak hit Clark County, dubbed a "hot spot" anti-vaccination, especially hard. There were 62 confirmed cases in the county as of Tuesday, mostly among those who were not immune to the infection.
Washington is one of 17 states that allow vaccine exemptions to "philosophical beliefs" because of personal, moral or other beliefs, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. The vast majority of states – 47 – allow parents not to be vaccinated for religious reasons.
Almost all states allow children to go to school even if they are not vaccinated, noted CNN.
According to state data, approximately 7% of Clark County students were exempt from the mandatory vaccine upon entering kindergarten due to personal or religious reasons during the 2017-2018 school year.
Gottlieb said he is "deeply skeptical" about the exemptions that are not for medical reasons.
He did not specify what kind of action the federal government could take against mandatory immunization exemptions.
"You can impose some rules on what is allowed or not allowed to allow people to benefit from exemptions," he told CNN.
Axios first reported on Gottlieb's criticisms of "lax" vaccine laws.
Dr. Adam Ratner, director of the pediatric infectious diseases division at NYU Langone's Hassenfeld Children's Hospital, described Gottlieb's fight against vaccine exemptions as "fantastic news."
"I think some states might need that kind of pressure," Ratner told CNN.
Others, like California State pediatrician and senator Richard Pan (D), said federal intervention in state laws could cause legal problems.
"Traditionally, school entry requirements were the responsibility of the states, so there could be a constitutional problem if the federal government tried to impose these requirements by law," he said. declared.
Some states themselves have begun to ban personal or philosophical exemptions from vaccines.
A bill was passed Friday by the Washington State Health and Wellness Committee to ban exemptions from the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine.
An additional bill proposed by the Washington State Senate would ban personal or philosophical exemptions for all mandatory vaccines, not just for the ROM vaccine.
The Iowa Senate on Tuesday rejected a bill banning health insurance companies and insurance companies from discriminating against people who refuse to be vaccinated.