In the Wake of a Pandemic: Revisiting School Approaches to Nonmedical Exemptions to Mandatory Vaccination in the US

Erin Talati Paquette*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations

Abstract

Mandatory school vaccination policies with exclusion of unvaccinated students can be a powerful tool in ensuring high vaccination rates. Some parents may object to mandatory vaccination policies, claiming exemptions based on medical, religious, or philosophical reasons. Individual schools, school systems, or local or regional governments have different policies with respect to whether, and what kind of, exemptions may be allowed. In the setting of the current pandemic, questions regarding the acceptability of exemptions have resurfaced, as schools and local governments struggle with how to safely return children to school. Anticipating that school attendance will be facilitated by the development of a vaccine, school systems will face decisions about whether to mandate vaccination and whether to permit exemptions. The American Academy of Pediatrics promulgates policy favoring the elimination of nonmedical exemptions generally in schools. This discussion considers whether schools should eliminate nonmedical exemptions to vaccination as proposed in the American Academy of Pediatrics policy, ultimately concluding that broad elimination of exemptions is not justified and advocating a more nuanced approach that encourages school attendance while promoting vaccination and broader public health goals.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)17-23
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Pediatrics
Volume231
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health

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