School Stops Accepting Religious Exemptions For Vaccines Amid Outbreaks

Religion has been used in the past by parents as an excuse for refusing to have their children vaccinated. But this week a school in Cleveland Heights, Ohio sent a note home to let parents know that will no longer be an acceptable excuse.

This action being taken by the Hebrew Academy of Cleveland comes on the heels of a reported outbreak of measles in New York and an outbreak of the chickenpox at a school in North Carolina. The Hebrew Academy of Cleveland is making it mandatory for all students to be up to date on their vaccinations.

“There’s really no good credible science for someone not to be vaccinated,” said Cleveland Clinic’s Dr. Baruch Fertel, whose children attend the school. “We see from these outbreaks that it can just spread like wildfire and cause harm,” stating this is a precautionary measure to make sure similar outbreaks mentioned above don’t happen in their community.

“We live in a global world. People have family coming from all over. People travel all across the country, so it’s certainly possible for something like that to come,” Fertel said. Plus, he added that for many parents, choosing to not vaccinate their children comes more from influences by culture than from religious beliefs. “A lot of it has to do with prominent celebrities all across the spectrum, even some politicians have weighted into this discussion,” he said.

According to part of the letter sent out by Cleveland 19, “We recognize that there are families that have strong views on both sides of this issue. However, this is not an area where we can accommodate any deviation from this new protocol.”

According to the World Health Organization and the Center’s for Disease Control and Prevention, between 2016 to 2017 there was a 30% increase in measles cases. And the increase in preventable diseases has been of major concern in the last several years. Everything possible should be done to ensure that outbreaks don’t happen with preventable diseases like measles and chickenpox. It is a way to protect not only children but those who cannot be vaccinated because of illness, age or allergies.

Depending on which grade the child is in, there are six vaccinations required for students in the state of Ohio, which include polio, chicken pox, and measles. Dr.Fertel also said that giving a flu shot vaccination to all students may not be out of the realm of possibility in the future.

“Choosing not to vaccinate, yes it’s a personal decision, but on the other hand, it can affect other people if one becomes infected,” Fertel said.