Measles outbreak raises questions about vaccine waivers in schools & daycares

The ongoing outbreak of measles in the U.S. has brought attention to the topic of immunization – and more specifically, why some parents choose not immunize their children against diseases like measles.

While every state requires children to have vaccines before they attend school or daycare, most states allow parents to sign a waiver form saying they don’t want their child to be vaccinated. Sometimes, children aren’t able to receive vaccines because of a medical reason – for example, if they have a weakened immune system because they had cancer or another serious illness. But many states also allow parents to object to vaccines on philosophical grounds, meaning they can decline vaccination for their children and still send them to school and daycare even if their children are medically able to receive vaccines.

In a recent National Poll on Children’s Health, parents were asked what they think about the vaccination policies at their children’s daycares. Most parents of children age 0-5 agreed that all children attending daycare centers should be vaccinated (59% said they strongly agree and 22% said they agree). Three-quarters of parents said daycare providers should check vaccination records every year to make sure kids are up-to-date.

Additionally, in a scenario where 1 in 4 children at their child’s daycare were not vaccinated, 74% of parents said they’d think about removing their child from that daycare.

Parents were also asked which daycare vaccination policies they preferred.  The largest group (41%) said children should be excluded from daycare until they are vaccinated. Read the full report: Parents support daycare policies to get kids up-to-date on vaccines.

Figure 1: Parent preferred daycare policies for children not up-to-date on vaccines
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What do you think?
Should children in daycares and school be required to have vaccines? Are you aware of the vaccination policies at your child’s daycare center or school? Share your experiences in the comments or on Facebook and Twitter @MottNPCH.