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Can parents choose not to vaccinate their child?

Parents have the ultimate decision-making authority about their children's health unless they are putting the child at risk of harm. Most states allow parents to "opt out" of state vaccination requirements for school entry / progression on "religious" grounds. Most of us Pediatricians feel very strongly that vaccination is essential in trying to prevent many very serious and potentially life-threatening preventable illnesses. By not vaccinating your child, you place not only him or her at serious risk, but also other children in the community, some of whom may be on chemotherapy for cancer so have compromised immunity and cannot yet be (re)-vaccinated.

Parents have the right and responsibility to make medical decisions for their children, and this includes decisions about vaccines. However, this must be balanced against the community's desire and need to protect itself from contagious diseases. Therefore, states have varying laws governing and limiting the rights of parents to refuse vaccinations for their children. In most states this affects school attendance and requires some kind of written documentation as to the reason for refusal to vaccinate.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.