AMA Takes Tough Stance on Vaccinations

In what could be a tough political fight, members of the American Medical Association's House of Delegates today passed a resolution authorizing a campaign to get all states to ban philosophical and religious beliefs as grounds for opting out of routine vaccinations. Only medical exemptions should be allowed, the delgates agreed.

Rejecting parts of its own internal advisory committees’ recommendations, delegates to the American Medical Association’s annual House of Delegates (HOD) meeting in Chicago, IL today vowed to try to get states to reject allowing parents’ philosophical or religious beliefs as grounds for not having their children vaccinated.

In a resolution passed today, the delegates endorsed launching an AMA campaign to get states to “eliminate philosophical and religious exemptions from state immunization requirements,” and to require that medical reasons are the only grounds for refusal.

The goal will likely face much opposition as most states allow such opt-outs.

The delegates also called for beginning an AMA education campaign aimed directly at parents to help dispel fears that vaccinations can be harmful.

So far only 2 states (Mississippi and West Virginia) bar non-medical exemptions based on personal beliefs.

Standard vaccinations required for admission to school, preschool, or other public venues protect people from contagious illnesses such as smallpox, measles, mumps, rubella, diphtheria and polio. States set policies on which vaccinations they require.

Though an internal report from the AMA HOD’s council on science and public health and council on ethical and judicial affairs would have recommended an AMA policy giving states’ more leeway in accommodating personal belief objections, the delegates took a harder line.

“Protecting community health in today’s mobile society requires that policymakers not permit individuals from opting out of immunization solely as a matter of personal preference or convenience,” AMA board member Patrice Harris, MD, said in an AMA news release.