Associated Press (04.22.12) - Thursday, April 26, 2012
Vermont lawmakers are deliberating whether to terminate the
"philosophical exemption" that allows parents to enroll
children in school or child care without being immunized.
The state Health Department and CDC call for about 20 shots
before a child begins kindergarten. Both agencies also note
Vermont has one of the highest state exemption rates for
A March state Senate vote (26-4) eliminated the philosophical
exemption, but a subsequent April House vote (93-36) retained
it. Left unresolved, the legislation will die, leaving Vermont
one of 20 states allowing philosophical exemptions from
All states allow medical exemptions, and nearly all offer
religious exemptions from immunization. An Associated Press
analysis of state health department data for 2010-11 found
that Alaska exempted 9 percent of kindergarteners; Colorado
exempted 7 percent; and Vermont and Washington each exempted 6
State Health Department Immunization Manager Christine Finley
said Vermont's percentage of fully immunized kindergarteners
fell from 93 percent in 2005 to 83 percent in 2010. While
exemption proponents decry a perceived profit-driven
pharmaceutical industry, exemption critics assert the decline
in state immunizations must be halted to preserve "herd
Some theorize that Vermont's recent outbreak of pertussis
(whooping cough), a vaccine target, is related to exemption.
"Do you want to wait until you've got a measles outbreak?"
asked Finley, who added that Vermont had 102 whooping cough
cases between January and the beginning of April, more than in
all of 2011. Washington had 640 cases from January through
March; 94 cases were reported for the same time in 2011.
Gov. Peter Shumlin has endorsed the House's call for more
education on immunization over the Senate's move to drop the