Law would tighten religious exemptions on vaccinations

In the wake of the recent suburban measles outbreak, a state lawmaker wants to tighten rules on families claiming religious exemptions from state-mandated vaccinations.

“In recent years, there has been a groundswell of parents who see vaccines as a harbinger of other diseases despite evidence to the contrary,” state Sen. John Mulroe, a Chicago Democrat said. “What we don't want is someone's personal beliefs putting other people at risk, which is often the case with vaccination exemptions.”

Under current law, students who have claimed religious objection are considered to have met state vaccination standards.

But Mulroe wants to make it more difficult to claim those exemptions. The proposed law would create more hoops for parents to jump through before receiving a religious exemption from vaccinating their children.

Mulroe proposes that parents wishing to receive the exemption must present a “bona fide religious exemption statement from any religious official” to the Department of Public Health. A form must also be signed by a child's regular doctor or medical practitioner.

And his plan would require the State Board of Education to post the religious exemptions from local school districts on the board's website.

Measles vaccination rates vary widely by schools in the suburbs, with some schools reporting less than 75 percent vaccination rates.

Senate Republican Leader Christine Radogno of Lemont also filed legislation to further the discussion on who is required to receive vaccinations.

“Sen. Radogno's goals are similar to Mulroe's,” said Radogno spokeswoman Patty Schuh. “We need to tighten the rules and laws that govern the vaccination process.”

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