Letters to the Editor

Letter: Religious exemptions to vaccinations

To the Editor:

The school system has always been a source of community for our towns, always bringing people together by nurturing our children and providing jobs. This can only be done if schools remain a safe space for people to be apart of.

However, this safety is at risk due to a loophole that people have been misusing recently: religious exemptions for vaccinations. Outbreaks of these preventable viruses is a social problem that our community can no longer ignore. Illinois should join New York in creating a policy that bans religious exemption for vaccinations in schools so that safety can be maintained.

The Vanderbilt University Medical Center in 2013 lists around seven religions that prohibit vaccinations. Large religions like Islam and Judaism have had people who follow that religion come together to discuss and approve that vaccinations do not go against their values.

Therefore, the basis of providing an exemption on the basis of religion isn’t applicable due to the fact that many major religions in the United States don’t oppose vaccinations. The CDC states that 2019 is the highest number of cases of measles since 1992. In children, measles can transform into complications like pneumonia which kills 1 in 20 children. The measles vaccination program started in 1963 and with two doses of the vaccine are 97% effective.

In 2000, measles was declared eliminated in the United States. In short, measles is something that can easily be stopped by the vaccine which has a history of being greatly effective.

As a social work student, one of the values from the NASW Code of Ethics is service meaning to help people in need and address social problems. Measles is a social problem that affects people who cannot protect themselves against this virus.

Due to the loophole of religious exemptions, society is failing to create safe spaces, like schools, by not vaccinating their children. I ask you, the readers, to educate yourself on the facts of vaccinations, report to your school boards about banning religious-based exemptions from the school systems and call your local senators about Illinois joining New York in this policy. 

Gretchen Birong

Richmond

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