Eliminate The Religion Exemption From North Carolina's Vaccination Policy

Eliminate The Religion Exemption From North Carolina's Vaccination Policy

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Elizabeth Ocampo started this petition to Roy Cooper

 North Carolina has a list of vaccinations that are required before a child is to start school. This list includes the diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, polio, measles, mumps, rubella, Hemophilus influenzae type B, hepatitis B, varicella and pneumococcal conjugate vaccines (immunizations for children). North Carolina requires a child to be vaccinated because schools are a big body of children where diseases spread quickly like wild fire and are later brought home and spread throughout the community. North Carolina is trying to prevent any outbreaks of these diseases. This is why vaccines are required and important, they help prevent them from spreading. A few exemptions exist in North Carolina that allow a child to go to school unvaccinated. An unmedical exemption to the school vaccines policy in North Carolina is the religion exemption that allows any child to be excused from being vaccinated if vaccines are against their beliefs or religion. That exemption is not strict and anyone who simply just doesn’t want to vaccinate their child for any reason can go under that exemption. Vaccinations are important and North Carolina’s school vaccination policy needs to be stricter. North Carolina needs to eliminate the religion exemption from their schools’ vaccination policy because unvaccinated children due to beliefs are causing dangerous outbreaks. 
Vaccines play an important part in schools to help prevent diseases from spreading. Ever since vaccines were created the numbers of cases in those diseases decreased. Vaccines save lives from deadly diseases. Before vaccines it was common for children to die from diseases that now are preventable with vaccines. Dube states vaccination decisions are complex and multi-dimensional. The author goes on to explain despite the strong scientific and medical consensus around usefulness and safety of vaccines, a proportion of people remain concerned and unsure about vaccines. Vaccine hesitancy is a term now commonly used to refer to the heterogeneous group of people with different levels of concerns, doubts and indecision about vaccination. (Dube 1) Science has proved to back up vaccines yet we have these people who are indecisive about vaccines and fall under the religion and beliefs exemption and result in children being able to go to school unvaccinated. Having unvaccinated children in our schools can be a danger and can lead to outbreaks of diseases such as the outbreak of the measles in California.  
California had the same religion and beliefs exemption policy in their schools, but due to a bad experience with a measles outbreak December 2014 they decided it would be best to eliminate it. According to Chemerisky “forty-two people in Disneyland were reported having been exposed to measles. Measles is a highly communicable respiratory diseases and the virus can linger on surfaces for up to two hours” (589-615). This is a great example of how dangerous a disease like the measles can be in such high populated places such as schools. Measles could spread so quickly over school as desk, chairs and school supplies are all shared throughout the day. Chemerisky states the virus mostly spread among those who had not been vaccinated either because they were too young or by choice. By the end of January 2015 there were confirmed sixty-seven cases and some cases had even spread outside of the California border. Overall approximately 147 people in the United States were infected and were linked to the initial exposure in California Disneyland. Gilkey states “The highly publicized “Disneyland outbreak” brought national attention to the rising incidence of measles specifically as well as to the issue of parents’ hesitancy to vaccinate their children against infectious diseases (1). As a result, June 2015 California passed a bill eliminating personal and religious belief vaccination exemption for children to be enrolled in or school. This bill went into effect July 1st, 2016 and made California the third state in the nation to remove the religious or personal belief exemption (585-615). North Carolina has already had an outbreak and shouldn’t wait for one as bad as California to decide to eliminate their religion exemption. 
North Carolina had an outbreak of chickenpox where children were affected. According to Samantha Long, Asheville Waldorf School had 36 children diagnosed with chickenpox. Out of 28 kindergarten students enrolled that year, there were 19 who had an exemption to at least one vaccine required by the state. Samantha Long argues “When we see high numbers of unimmunized children and adults, we know that an illness like chickenpox can spread easily throughout the community and into our playgrounds, grocery stores and sports teams” (1). Which means not vaccinating children is a danger not only to the child who is not vaccinated but also to the rest of the students in the school who then can also spread the diseases out to others in the community. Even though the painful rash seems to be a childhood rite of passage, the virus can have severe consequences for adults as well, including bacterial skin and bloodstream infections, pneumonia, and an infection of the brain known as encephalitis. These diseases are serious and shouldn’t be played around with. The vaccines for these diseases are important as they help prevent them. This school is in North Carolina and is a perfect example of the exemptions in North Carolina letting children attend school without being vaccinated and causing danger to others around them. 
Parents belief to leaving their children without being vaccinated has been traced back to myths of autism and vaccines being related. Davidson explains  
myths that vaccines or mercury are associated with autism have been amplified by misguided scientists; frustrated, but effective parent groups; and politicians. Preventing the protection provided by vaccination or administration of mercury-chelating agents may cause real damage to autistic individuals and to innocent bystanders who as a result may be exposed to resurgent diseases that had already been “extinguished.” (403-407).  
 Parents don’t realize that although the lack of scientific background they are trusting in this belief of autism being linked to vaccines and leaving their children in the danger of diseases that could potentially even take their lives. They are so blinded by the fear of autistic children that they are putting their children at risk of death with these deadly diseases that are easily preventable by vaccines. They are also putting at risk the children around them at school to catching these deadly diseases. The connection between autism is not strong enough for parents to be able to hold on to that reason and sending their children to school unvaccinated, this is why North Carolina needs to delete the beliefs exemption from their policy. Children are at danger of these previously extinct diseases coming back and taking lives again. It took a lot for scientist to develop these vaccines to protect the children, vaccines have saved lives for years and an unscientifically backed up myth should not justify not using these vaccines. 
Another group of antivax families (families against vaccinations) decision not to vaccinate their children is because they feel it should be a right for it to be their own decision to vaccinate or not vaccinate their children. They believe North Carolina should not have the right make decisions for them to vaccinate their children. Antivax parents believe parents should have the right to say no to vaccines if they wish and not have to be “exempt” from it. Dube advices that “we need to positively value and acknowledge those who accept immunization and demand access to vaccines, by reinforcing that this is the social norm and that those who choose vaccination are not only protecting themselves, but also their community” (3907-3909). he explains it is important for children to be vaccinated. It is not fine for parents not to vaccinate their children just because they feel it should be their right to reject vaccines. A child's safety and life are more important than their beliefs in having the right to say no. Vaccines should not be up for debate as they are backed up by science and have been protecting children for years.  
Vaccines are important and were scientifically developed to protect from harmful deadly diseases. They have been protecting humans for decades and have even made some diseases become extinct. This is why North Carolina requires all children to be vaccinated before going to school to help prevent these vaccine preventable diseases from spreading throughout the children in schools. However, North Carolina has an exemption to this policy. North Carolina gives parents the right to not vaccinate their children if vaccines are against their religion or beliefs. Due to myth of autism being linked to vaccines and beliefs of the right to refuse vaccines the volume in unvaccinated children have increased. California had the same issue which lead to a measles outbreak where approximately 147 people in the united states were affected. After this experience California removed their religion and beliefs exemption from their vaccination policy. North Carolina has already started to see some outbreaks such as the outbreak in Ashville where 36 kindergartens were affected. This is why North Carolina needs to get rid of their religion and beliefs exemption from their vaccination policy.  
Works Cited 
Chemerinsky, Erwin, and Michele Goodwin. "Compulsory Vaccination Laws are Constitutional.” Northwestern University Law Review, vol. 110, no. 3, 2016, pp. 589-615. ProQuest, https://login.proxy033.nclive.org/login?url=https://search.proquest.com/docview/1791010531?accountid=9994 
Dube, Eve. “Vaccination Resilience: Building and Sustaining Confidence in and Demand for Vaccination.” Shibboleth Authentication Request, Elsevier, 13 July 2017, www-sciencedirect-com.proxy033.nclive.org/science/article/pii/S0264410X17307922 
Gilkey, Melissa B., et al. "Vaccination Confidence and Parental Refusal/Delay of Early Childhood Vaccines." PLoS One, vol. 11, no. 7, 2016. ProQuest, doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0159087. 
“Immunizations for Children.” NC DPH, WCH: Immunization: Family: Immunizations for Children, NC Department of Health and Human Services, 8 Dec. 2017, www.immunize.nc.gov/family/immnz_children.htm 
Long, Samantha. "Sick with Chickenpox at North Carolina School with High Vaccination Exemption Rate." UWIRE Text, 21 Nov. 2018, p. 1. Academic OneFile, http://link.galegroup.com.proxy033.nclive.org/apps/doc/A563022780/AONE?u=nclivececc&sid=AONE&xid=ae87fd0d 
Michael, Davidson. Dialogues in Clinical Neuroscience19 (2017): 403–407 

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