American Medical Association Announces New Mandatory
By Taylor Wofford
The American Medical Association (AMA), one of the largest and most
influential associations of medical doctors in the country, today endorsed
putting an end to religious exemptions to immunization requirements.
"Under new policy, the AMA will seek more stringent state immunization
requirements to allow exemptions only for medical reasons," the organization
said in a press release.
The AMA joins others in the fight against religious and "personal belief"
exemptions for vaccines. Among those already opposed to non-medical
exemptions is a group of California legislators who in April put forward
a bill designed to eliminate personal belief exemptions in the state.
But that bill, SB277, has faced an uphill battle, nearly dying in committee
and being besieged by those who are against childhood vaccinations,
called "anti-vaxxers," every step of the way. Crowds of protesters have
gathered outside the state legislature in Sacramento, hoping to convince
state legislators to scrap the bill.
The California bill came in response to an outbreak of measles last
year at the Disneyland theme park in Anaheim. According to the Centers
for Disease Control and Prevention, 173 people from 21 states were infected
with the vaccine-preventable disease. The AMA addressed the outbreak
when announcing its new policy: "As evident from the recent measles
outbreak at Disneyland, 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,"
said AMA board member Dr. Patrice Harris.
The AMA issued recommendations to state health departments and physicians
designed to banish non-medical exemptions from the landscape of American
medicine. But the group, while large and powerful, is not a government
body, and while it can (and does) lobby the government, it does not
make policy. Ultimately, it will be up to state legislators to remove
non-medical exemptions to immunization.
Newsweek (June 9, 2015)
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