AMA: End Personal, Religious Vaccination Exemptions – Forbes
The American Medical Association endorsed an end to non-medical exemptions for immunization, saying the nationâ€™s largest doctor group would throw its considerable lobbying clout behind state and national efforts to halt personal and religious exemptions from vaccinations for children entering schools.
The vote today by the AMAâ€™s policy-making House of Delegates to seek more stringent state and federal immunization requirements comes at a critical time opponents of vaccination exemptions are successfully lobbying lawmakers in California and elsewhere for legislation to end non-medical exemptions from vaccination. Last December, a highly publicized outbreak of measles at Disneyland sickened more than 130 Californians.
â€œAs evident from the recent measles outbreak at Disneyland, protecting community health in todayâ€™s mobile society requires that policymakers not permit individuals from opting out of immunization solely as a matter of personal preference or convenience,â€ said Dr. Patrice Harris, an AMA board member. â€œWhen people are immunized they also help prevent the spread of disease to others.â€
The AMA said there is no scientific basis for non-medical exemptions and that they put the publicâ€™s health at risk. Immunization programs, the AMA said, have helped control or even eradicate the spread of smallpox, measles, mumps, rubella, diptheria and polio.
The AMAâ€™s support to end non-medical exemptions is key given the organization is the nationâ€™s largest doctor group and its 538 delegates represent state medical societies and national specialty doctor groups that have considerable lobbying clout in Washington and state capitals across the country.
California is among 19 states that have so-called â€œpersonal beliefâ€ exemptions and 48 states allow religious exemptions. â€œNationwide, about 1.7% of kindergarten age children have religious or philosophical exemptions to mandatory immunization,â€ a report from the AMAâ€™s council on science and public health and its council on ethical and judicial affairs said.
AMA members in favor of ending exemptions say people who decide not to get immunized put others at risk as well as themselves and health care workers. Â Doctors at the AMA annual meeting here in Chicago also say parents are misinformed when it comes to the idea that vaccinations cause autism.
AMA members testified during the meeting earlier this week that more than 100 reports and scientific papers indicate there is no relationship between vaccination and autism.
â€œThese exemptions are used for convenience,â€ said Dr. James Felsen, an AMA alternate delegate and public health physician from West Virginia, one of two states that doesnâ€™t allow either religious or personal exemptions from vaccination. â€œItâ€™s such a no brainer. Youâ€™re protecting the kid next to you.â€