Columbus, OH—American Atheists, on behalf of its more than 1,200 constituents in Ohio, has submitted testimony urging Ohio lawmakers to amend HB 559, a bill related to vaccination requirements for students to attend public schools, to eliminate religious exemptions from mandatory immunizations for children attending Ohio schools.
While American Atheists does not take a position on the underlying legislation, we are concerned that the bill maintains and even expands current exceptions to immunization requirements for students whose parents or guardians object to immunization “for reasons of conscience, including religious convictions.”
American Atheists believes that no exception should be made from neutral immunization requirements intended to further public health and the well-being of children based on religious beliefs. Such exceptions are both unnecessary and dangerous from a medical and public health perspective. Successful population immunity to disease depends upon a significant level of vaccination since some young people are unable to receive immunization for medical reasons.
Allowing religious exemptions needlessly puts these youth (as well as the youth who are not receiving vaccination due to the religious exemption) at risk.
According to studies published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, children exempt from immunization requirements are more than 35 times more likely to contract measles and 6 times more likely to contract pertussis, compared to immunized children. Multiple outbreaks of measles have recently occurred in religious communities known to be either hesitant to vaccinate or completely opposed to vaccination.
“No young person should be subject to harm or illness based on the religious beliefs of their caretakers or their classmates.”
You can read American Atheists’ full testimony here.