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A SAMPLE ATTORNEY’S LETTER
FOR A “PERSONAL RELIGIOUS EXEMPTION
Disclaimer: The following letter is for educational purposes only. It is not intended to serve as legal advice, nor is it intended to take the place of appropriate legal counsel. As with any legal matter, you should consult a qualified lawyer for your specific needs.
Religious exemptions are acceptable in most U.S. states, but specific vaccination laws vary from state to state (and were listed in the previous section of this book). Be sure to check with the state department of epidemiology, vaccinations, immunizations, or whatever it is called in your state in order to find out the laws for your state.
Some require that you file for an exemption certificate; others require only a properly written letter. In any case, the following may help you with this process.
Reproduced below, is a copy of a letter from an attorney to an immunization nurse, regarding a religious exemption from vaccinations for his North Carolina clients’ children. This letter was accepted by health officials for a religious exemption in two different North Carolina counties. (North Carolina and Mississippi are two of the only States requiring medical exemptions.) One of those two letters was initially written by the parents; and they paid an attorney to add his comments at the front. That is the letter reproduced below. In the other North Carolina county, the attorney’s letter was copied; but the paragraphs which referred to the attorney’s introductory remarks were omitted. The parents modified the letter to be from themselves instead of from the lawyer.
You may not need to have the letter be sent through an attorney if you cannot find or afford one; but having a lawyer write or review your letter may be the only way to guarantee that your letter conforms to state legal requirements.
You will note that the letter mentions earlier “personal” religious exemption court cases, scattered throughout America. They establish that it may not be necessary to belong to a religious organization that specifically states opposition to vaccination in its official doctrine, in order to have an acceptable religious exemption from immunizations.
When you handwrite or type this letter, you may wish to modify it somewhat to reflect your own personal religious beliefs and make other changes where appropriate.
In order to make it more official, when you have finished writing this—your own Personal Religious Exemption from Immunization letter,—you would do well to have it notarized before submitting it to the appropriate authorities. You may also wish to send it by registered mail, in order to verify confirmation of its arrival and receipt by the appropriate official.
You will notice that this letter is written as coming from an attorney. If you hire an attorney to send it, he can modify it slightly. Otherwise, you would need to omit the portion that indicates that it is being sent by an attorney. You will also need to modify the portions within brackets.
The much more complete Letter Requesting Exemption from Vaccination on Religious Grounds, which you will find on pp. 188-194, is an enlargement of the letter below.
Here is the sample letter:
Personal Request for Exemption from Immunization
[Name of county] County Health Dept.
Attention: [Immunization nurse’s name]
RE: [first child’s name, date of birth. Second child’s name, date of birth, etc.]
Dear Nurse [name]:
This office has been retained as counsel to represent [parents’ names], individually, on behalf of their children, [children’s names], with regard to my clients’ rights for an exemption from immunizations as provided by North Carolina Statutes 130A-157.
The present situation stems from my clients’ refusal to have their children [children’s names] submit to immunizations and inoculations as prescribed by North Carolina Statutes 130A-152. My clients have the right to refuse to have their children receive these injections pursuant to North Carolina Statutes 130A-137,since they have sincere religious beliefs which prohibit them from having their children receive immunizations and inoculations.
Recent court decisions have upheld the rights of individuals seeking exemptions from immunizations based upon “personal” religious beliefs (Sherr and Levy vs. Northport East-Northport Union Free School District, 672 F. Supp. 81, E.D.N.Y., 1987; Allanson vs. Clinton Central School District, U.S. District Court, Northern District Court, Northern District of New York, 84 CV 174, 1984; Campain vs. Marlboro Central School District, Supreme Court Ulster County Special Term, November 15, 1985; Brown vs. City School District, 429 NYS2d 355; Maier vs. Besser, 73 Misc.2d 241).
My clients’ religious beliefs include the following:
[Note: Modify the beliefs, stated below, as needed to have them apply to you; what you put here is up to you. Should your exemption be challenged, it will be up to the challenger to prove that what you state here is not your bona fide religious belief, a generally difficult thing for him to prove. Your statement should definitely mention that you believe it morally wrong and against your religious belief to receive a vaccination for you or your children.]
“We believe in God, and that God has created us in His image. In being created in God’s image, we were given bodies which He commanded us in the Holy Bible to keep clean and pure. We are required to keep this wonderful gift, our human bodies, in good condition, and not to swallow or inject anything into it that would be unclean or diseased. We believe it is sacrilegious and a violation of our sacred religious beliefs to violate what God has given us by showing a lack of faith in God. Immunizations are a lack of faith in God and His plan for the care of our bodies. We believe it is morally wrong, and against our religious beliefs to receive a vaccination either for ourselves or for our children.
“We believe in Jesus’ many promises of protection for us, and that He loves us, and will take care of us if we place our trust in Him. I believe that immunizations show no faith in God’s promises of protection for us, saying to God that you trust man more than His holy words of protection for us.
“God desires us to love Him and our neighbors first and foremost. This is His first command. By loving Him, we are to fully trust in Him for all things. He is our Lord and Father. He is our Rock, our fortress, and our Saviour.
“Our faith is in God and in the Holy Word, being the Holy Bible which is authored by God. This is the instruction book for living that He has left us; and, in it, He tells us He is our protector and we stand firm on His promise. Our faith is in Him!”
My clients’ religious beliefs are also based upon the understanding of what God requires of them as provided for in the Bible.
[Note: add or delete quotations which agree with your personal beliefs.]
“When Jesus heard it, He saith unto them, They that are whole have no need of a physician, but they that are sick: I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”—Mark 2:17.
“What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?”—1 Corinthians 6:19.
“That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.”—1 Corinthians 2:5.
“If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy: for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are.”—1 Corinthians 3:17.
“In vain thou shalt use many medicines; for thou shalt not be cured.”—Jeremiah 46:11.
“The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.”—Revelation 22:2.
“A people that provoked Me to anger continually to My face; that sacrificeth in the gardens, and burneth incense upon the alters of brick; which remain among the graves, and lodge in the monuments, which eat swine’s flesh, and broth of abominable things is in their vessels.”—Isaiah 65:3-4.
“And the fruit thereof shall be for meat, and the leaf thereof for medicine.”—Ezekiel 47:12.
“Neither shall ye defile yourselves with any manner of creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.”—Leviticus 11:44.
“His disease was exeeding great: yet in his disease he sought not to the Lord, but to the physicians.”—2 Chronicles 16:12.
I anticipate a prompt response from you or the appropriate official.
Very truly yours,
cc: [parents’ names]
[End of the letter.]
PHYSICIAN’S CONSENT FORM
Someone developed the following Consent Form. It is self-explanatory. Rarely will a physician be willing to sign it; for he regularly reads the medical journals and is well-aware of the dangers inherent in vaccines.
In some instances, parents have used the form to avoid vaccinations for their child.
However, it could happen that if you were to press the issue (that the form first be signed), instead of signing the form you request them to, in desperation the health department might sidestep the problem by issuing an order for the police to seize your child and place him in a foster home, declaring that you have refused permission for the vaccination to be done and, therefore, are an unfit parent. You, of course, could maintain before the judge that you are very willing for the vaccination to occur; all you are requesting is that the form be signed first. But, by that time, you would be involved in an expensive legal hassle which could require months before your child was returned to you.
Here is the form. If you wish to use it, you would want to retype it to fit a single-column 8½ x 11-size sheet. Be sure to type it double-spaced between lines:
FOR ADMINISTRATION OF VACCINE
If you will be administering a vaccination to me or my child today, I will need for you to complete the following consent form. Thank you.
I (physician name) ____________________________
do hereby state that I have advised my patient (patient or child name) _____________________________________
and/or parent of my patient (parent’s name) ______________________ that in my professional opinion this patient/child should be given the vaccination, drug, or other (name of vaccination/drug/other): ______________, Manufacturer’s name: ________________, Serial Number: _________, Batch number: __________.
I have on this (day) __________ (month) __________ (year) __________ administered this vaccination/medication/drug AFTER advising the above named patient/parent of minor patient that there is little or no risk involved with this vaccination/medication/drug therapy or treatment. I hereby do agree that should this patient/child at any time suffer or develop any permanent condition deleterious or injurious to his/her health as a result of this treatment, I will pay for any and all costs involved related to the care and treatment necessary for this patient/child for the rest of his/her natural life. I further agree that if my earnings are insufficient to meet these costs, I will sell my home, my business and all material possessions and put those proceeds towards meeting the patient-involved expenses.
Signature of responsible Physician _________________________________________________________
Date of signature _________________________________________________________
Signature of responsible person administering
Occupational title of person administering it _________________________________________________________
Date of signature _________________________________________________________
Witness: Parent or other person _________________________________________________________
Date of signature
ANOTHER WAY TO AVOID CHILDHOOD VACCINATIONS
On January 14, 2003, the New York Times reported on a way that 5,520 people, all across America, have used to protect their children from receiving childhood vaccinations.
We are not condoning the method, but the information in this section can explain many things to you. Thousands of Americans have sent a dollar to a certain chiropractor in northeast U.S., in order “to join his church.” However, according to the following article, doing so does not mean they have to stop belonging to another church, or even that they have to agree in their application letter to accept his teachings or practice them. In fact, in their application letter, accompanying the enclosed dollar, some of them tell him just that: They agree with none of his teachings and they tell him so. Religious disagreement does not matter to him, since his only concern is to oppose the vaccination of adults and children. I do not have Schilling’s address.
Here are a few quotations from this New York Times article:
“Once the families have confirmed that they “will aspire to live by” the tenets and have paid at least $1 of the $75 ‘customary donation’ as a sign of commitment, they receive their membership certificates. Dr. Schilling does not require that applicants give up other religions, and he is not too exacting about wording: he accepted a vague letter saying an applicant might follow the tenets if he chose to . .
“Dr. Schilling’s church was founded in 1975 to defend ‘straight chiropractors’ like himself, who regard Western medicine as paganism or Satanism. Now he claims 5,520 members, mostly families wanting to avoid vaccination, in 28 states.
“Forty-seven states—all but Arkansas, Mississippi and West Virginia—offer religious exemptions to vaccination; only 17 offer ‘philosophical’ exemptions, available virtually on demand. Parents opposing vaccination often apply for religious exemptions when they cannot get philosophical or medical ones, public health officials say . .
“Although more than 90 percent of all American children have had their vaccinations, exemptions appear to be increasing, and to
concentrate in pockets where higher numbers of parents object . .
“National data do not distinguish between exemption types, said Daniel A. Salmon, a vaccination expert at the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health. But in Massachusetts, which he has studied and which does not offer philosophical exemptions, religious exemptions are on the rise. The American Medical Association opposes both types, saying they increase the risk of epidemics.
“In many states, just what constitutes ‘religious exemption’ is hazy. A study in The American Journal of Public Health in 2000 showed that only 21 of the 47 states had ever denied one [to anyone seeking it]. ‘A lot of states call their exemptions religious, but anyone who wants it, gets it,’ Mr. Salmon said.
“The issue has never come before the Supreme Court, but state laws that have listed exempt faiths (Christian Science, for example) have been struck down in courts on the basis of the First Amendment. [This paragraph means the courts consistently forbid states from restricting the giving of a religious exemption only to those who belong to certain churches, but not to others. According to this, it is a matter of one’s personal religion, not which church he might or might not belong to.] . .
“One of the toughest places to get an exemption is New York City . . Applicants must write letters detailing their personal beliefs . .
“In interviews, Dr. Schilling (‘Brother Schilling’ in correspondence) seems a polite, gentle man with pacifist and environmentalist beliefs and a sincere passion for his religion . . He adopts greyhounds facing euthanasia when their dog-track careers are over. He doesn’t own a gun and is religiously opposed to war, but joined the National Rifle Association because it fights government restrictions.
“He doesn’t smoke or drink and, as a chiropractor, even shuns X-rays because he considers them irreligiously invasive . .
“Dr. Schilling says, ‘what other people see as Western medicine, we see as a state-imposed pagan religion. We’re constantly intimidated by the system. Now, when we’re intimidated, we intimidate back.”—“Worship Optional: Joining a Church to Evade Vaccination,” New York Times, January 14, 2003.
“Here is a sample letter issued by Dr. Schilling:
“ ‘This is to certify that the family of Donald McNeil is enrolled as members of this religious order and is subject to the tenets and beliefs of this order. No member of the Congregation shall have injected, ingested or infused into the body any foreign materials of unhealthy or unnatural composition. No member of the Congregation shall have surgical instruments cutting or piercing the tissues of the body.’
“It is not hard to get a religious exemption to childhood immunization laws. To join the Congregation of Universal Wisdom, all it takes is a letter to this neat house in the Pine Barrens with ‘Don’t Tread on Me’ flag above the mailbox.”—Ibid.
Apparently, the only “tenets and beliefs” of the organization are not to take toxic materials into the body. This is something many today are discovering to be a helpful way to live. Membership in any other group or church is not forbidden; and Schilling does not even care if a person, when sending in his dollar, says he will only obey those teachings he believes in.
Especially significant is the fact that there are several states where you should not move to, if you want to protect your children from vaccinations. You will find the complete list in the next chapter of this book.
LEGAL EXEMPTION STATUTES IN THE UNITED STATES
What does the legal code of each State say regarding possible exemptions on religious grounds?
There are many serious health risks associated with any immunization, especially those given to infants and young children. These dangers have been well-documented.
Some states require that parents belong to a religion that has a written tenet opposing vaccination (several state high courts have found this requirement unconstitutional). Some 16 states provide for philosophical or “personal belief” exemption; but most parents are unaware of these exemptions and fewer than one percent in most states exercise them.
In 1986, Congress officially acknowledged the reality of vaccine-caused injuries and death by creating and passing The National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act (Public Law 99-660). The safety reform portion of this law requires doctors to provide parents with information about the benefits and risks of childhood vaccines prior to vaccination, and to report vaccine reactions to federal health officials. (See pp. 224-233.)
Demand to be fully informed as to the possible side effects. Ask to see the manufacture’s warning label. As a parent, you may decide against vaccinating your child. This is your legal right.
School officials often resort to “scare tactics” to intimidate parents into submission. How many time have you heard “Children won’t be permitted in school without being fully immunized.” School administrators are only referring to part of the law and only rarely mention the exemptions (which are listed on pp. 246-270). Some administrators may not know they exist.
Basically, in order to get an exemption, simply write your local school official and tell them it is against your religious belief to have your children vaccinated, as allowed for by law and (optionally) cite the particular section of the law. You need not explain your religious belief or go into any details. Describing you religious beliefs is not required by law.
Frequently, the local school administrator has never heard of an exemption letter and you might have to provide a copy of the appropriate section of the State law to educate them.
Although some may not share your belief, under Federal Law, “religious practices” is defined by law to include moral or ethical beliefs about what is right and wrong that are sincerely held with the strength of traditional views.
If anyone tries to pry, say, “Surely you’re not discriminating against my family based on my religion, are you? That’s a major Federal Civil Rights violation.”
Examine and read the laws of your State about what they actually say about exemptions. Most of them say something like this: Immunization of a person shall not be required for admission to a school . . if the parent files a letter or affidavit stating that the immunization is contrary to his or her beliefs.
These exemptions are written into most U.S. State government codes, which enable you to write a statement which will exempt your child from receiving required immunizations.
Read and follow the law regarding what needs to be done to obtain an exemption. Key sections are in bold print.
Most states permit you to submit a written statement that, because of your religious or conscientious principles, you do not want the vaccinations. Some states say that the exemption must be based on the religious beliefs of your church. A few states say that you must obtain a physician’s statement. (All states permit you to obtain an exception based on a physician’s statement.)
In some states, siblings (brothers and sisters) of a child already damaged by the pertussis vaccine do not have to receive vaccination. —You want to take precautions in advance; and you will not have to apply under that provision!
In many states, the exemption granted you does not apply in times of an epidemic (an occurrence which is extremely unlikely to occur).
We have listed below the section, subsection numbers, and the paragraph(s) stating the possible exemption by personal statement (or physician’s statement, if personal statement is not permitted).
These listings were accurate as of January 2003. For a copy of the entire immunization section, which would be up-to-date, phone your state capital; ask for the immunization section of the medical department, and request that a copy of the entire law covering mandatory childhood immunizations by mailed to you. They will send it free of charge.
ALABAMA GOVERNMENT CODE
Section 16-30-1 Immunizations . .
Section 16-30-3: Exceptions to chapter. The provisions of this chapter shall not apply if:
(1) In the absence of an epidemic or immediate threat thereof, the parent or guardian of the child shall object thereto in writing on grounds that such immunization or testing conflicts with his religious tenets and practices.
(Acts 1973, No. 1269, p. 2113, §3)
ALASKA ADMINISTRATIVE CODE
4 AAC 06.055 Immunizations . .
(b) This section does not apply if the child
(3) has an affidavit signed by his parent or guardian affirming that immunization conflicts with the tenets and practices of the church or religious denomination of which the applicant is a member.
ARIZONA REVISED STATUTES
15-872 . .
A. Documentary proof is not required for a pupil to be admitted to school if one of the following occurs:
1. The parent or guardian of the pupil submits a signed statement to the school administrator, stating that the parent or guardian has received information about immunizations provided by the department of health services, understands the risks and benefits of immunizations and the potential risks of non-immunization and that due to personal beliefs, the parent or guardian does not consent to the immunization of the pupil.
TITLE 6 - Education
Subtitle 2 Elementary and Secondary Education Generally.
Chapter 18 Students
Subchapter 7 Health
§ 6-18-702 Immunization . .
(f) The provisions of this section shall not apply if the parents or legal guardian of that child object thereto on the grounds that such immunization conflicts with the religious tenets and practices of a recognized church or religious denomination of which the parent or guardian is an adherent or member.
CALIFORNIA HEALTH AND SAFETY CODES
[Note: Section 120365 is the key section regarding exemptions.]
120365. Immunization of a person shall not be required for admission to a school or other institution listed in Section 120335 if the parent or guardian or adult who has assumed responsibility for his or her care and custody in the case of a minor, or the person seeking admission if an emancipated minor, files with the governing authority a letter or affidavit stating that the immunization is contrary to his or her beliefs.
TITLE 25 - Health.
25-4-903 - Exemptions from immunization
(1) (Deleted by amendment, L. 97, p. 409, § 2, effective July 1, 1997.)
(2) It is the responsibility of the parent or legal guardian to have his or her child immunized unless the child is exempted pursuant to this section. A student shall be exempted from receiving the required immunizations in the following manner:
(b) By submitting to the student’s school a statement of exemption signed by one parent or guardian or the emancipated student or student eighteen years of age or older that the parent, guardian, or student is an adherent to a religious belief whose teachings are opposed to immunizations or that the parent or guardian or the emancipated student or student eighteen years of age or older has a personal belief that is opposed to immunizations.
Sec. 10-204. Vaccination . .
(3) presents a statement from the parents or guardian of such child that such immunization would be contrary to the religious beliefs of such child . . or (5) in the case of haemophilus influenzae type B has passed his fifth birthday or (6) in the case of pertussis, has passed his sixth birthday, shall be exempt from the appropriate provisions of this section.
Sec. 10-208. Exemption from examination or treatment.
No provision of section 10-206 or 10-214 shall be construed to require any pupil to undergo a physical or medical examination or treatment, or to be compelled to receive medical instruction, if the parent or legal guardian of such pupil or the pupil, if such pupil is an emancipated minor or is eighteen years of age or older, in writing, notifies the teacher or principal or other person in charge of such pupil that such parent or guardian or pupil objects, on religious grounds, to such physical or medical examination or treatment or medical instruction.
TITLE 14 Department of Education
Subchapter II. Powers and Duties
§ 131. Public school enrollees’ immunization program; exemptions . .
(6) Provision for exemption from the immunization program for an enrollee whose parents or legal guardian, because of individual religious beliefs, reject the concept of immunization. Such a request for exemption shall be supported by the affidavit herein set forth:
AFFIDAVIT OF RELIGIOUS BELIEF
STATE OF DELAWARE
1. (I) (We) (am) (are) the (parent(s) (legal guardian(s) of
Name of Child
2. (I) (We) hereby (swear) (affirm) that (I) (we) subscribe to a belief in a relation to a Supreme Being involving duties superior to those arising from any human relation.
3. (I) (We) further (swear) (affirm) that our belief is sincere and meaningful and occupies a place in (my) (our) life parallel to that filled by the orthodox belief in God.
4. This belief is not a political, sociological or philosophical view of a merely personal moral code.
5. This belief causes (me) (us) to request an exemption from the mandatory school vaccination program for
Name of Child
Signature of Parent(s) or Legal Guardian(s)
SWORN TO AND SUBSCRIBED before me, a registered Notary Public, this
.......... day of ............, 198 .....
My commission expires:
FLORIDA STATUTES (1998)
232.032 Immunization against communicable diseases; school attendance requirements; exemptions—
(1) The Department of Health may adopt rules necessary to administer and enforce this section. The Department of Health, after consultation with the Department of Education, shall adopt rules governing the immunization of children against, the testing for, and the control of preventable communicable diseases. The rules must include procedures for exempting a child from immunization requirements . .
(3) The provisions of this section shall not apply if:
(a) The parent or guardian of the child objects in writing that the administration of immunizing agents conflicts with his or her religious tenets or practices;
CODE SECTION 20-2-771 G
20-2-771 . .
(e) This Code section shall not apply to a child whose parent or legal guardian objects to immunization of the child on the grounds that the immunization conflicts with the religious beliefs of the parent or guardian; however, the immunization may be required in cases when such disease is in epidemic stages. For a child to be exempt from immunization on religious grounds, the parent or guardian must first furnish the responsible official of the school or facility an affidavit in which the parent or guardian swears or affirms that the immunization required conflicts with the religious beliefs of the parent or guardian.
HAWAII REVISED STATUTES (HRS)
§302A-1154 Immunization upon entering school . . §302A-1156] Exemptions. A child may be exempted from the required immunizations:
(1) If a licensed physician certifies that the physical condition of the child is such that immunizations would endanger the child’s life or health; or
(2) If any parent, custodian, guardian, or any other person in loco parentis to a child objects to immunization in writing on the grounds that the immunization conflicts with that person’s bona fide religious tenets and practices. Upon showing the appropriate school official satisfactory evidence of the exemption, no certificate or other evidence of immunization shall be required for entry into school [L 1996, c 89, pt of §2].
TITLE 39 - Health & Safety
CHAPTER 48 - Immunization . .
39-4801. IMMUNIZATION REQUIRED. Except as provided in section 39-4802, Idaho Code, any child in Idaho of school age may attend grades preschool and kindergarten through twelve of any public, private or parochial school operating in this state if otherwise eligible, provided that upon admission, the parent or guardian shall provide a statement to the school authorities regarding the child’s immunity to certain childhood diseases.
39-4802. EXEMPTIONS. (1) Any minor child whose parent or guardian has submitted to school officials a certificate signed by a physician licensed by the state board of medicine stating that the physical condition of the child is such that all or any of the required immunizations would endanger the life or health of the child shall be exempt from the provisions of this chapter.
(2) Any minor child whose parent or guardian has submitted a signed statement to school officials stating their objections on religious or other grounds shall be exempt from the provisions of this chapter.
ILLINOIS COMPILED STATUTES (ILCS)
(410 ILCS 315/0.01)
Sec. 0.01. Short title. This Act may be cited as the Communicable Disease Prevention Act.
(410 ILCS 315/2)
The provisions of this Act shall not apply if:
1. The parent or guardian of the child objects thereto on the grounds that the administration of immunizing agents conflicts with his religious tenets or practices or . .
TITLE 20 - EDUCATION
Article 8.1 ELEMENTARY AND SECONDARY SCHOOL PUPILS
Chapter 7 Health Measures . .
Section IC 20-8.1-7-2 Sec. 2. (a) Except as otherwise provided, a school child may not be required to undergo any testing, examination, immunization, or treatment required under this chapter when the child’s parent objects on religious grounds. A religious objection does not exempt a child from any testing, examination, immunization, or treatment required under this chapter unless the objection is:
(1) made in writing;
(2) signed by the child’s parent; and
(3) delivered to the child’s teacher or to the individual who might order a test, an exam, an immunization, or a treatment.
CHAPTER 139 - COMMUNICABLE AND REPORTABLE DISEASES AND POISONINGS 139.9 Immunization of children . .
4. Immunization is not required for a person’s enrollment in any elementary or secondary school or licensed child care center if that person submits to the admitting official either of the following:
b. An affidavit signed by the applicant or, if a minor, by a legally authorized representative, stating that the immunization conflicts with the tenets and practice of a recognized religious denomination of which the applicant is an adherent or member; however, this exemption does not apply in times of emergency or epidemic as determined by the state board of health and as declared by the director of public health.
Article 52—HEALTH PROGRAMS
72-5209 . .
(b) As an alternative to the certification required under subsection (a), a pupil shall present:
(2) a written statement signed by one parent or guardian that the child is an adherent of a religious denomination whose religious teachings are opposed to such tests or inoculations.
KENTUCKY REVISED STATUTES (KRS)
TITLE XIII EDUCATION 158.035 Certificate of immunization . .
[Note: The exemption is listed in a entirely different section, which is reprinted here:]
TITLE XVIII PUBLIC HEALTH 214.036 Exceptions to testing or immunization requirement. Nothing contained in KRS 158.035, 214.010, 214.020, 214.032 to 214.036, and 214.990 shall be construed to require the testing for tuberculosis or the immunization of any child at a time when, in the written opinion of his attending physician, such testing or immunization would be injurious to the child’s health.
Nor shall KRS 158.035, 214.010, 214.020, 214.032 to 214.036, and 214.990 be construed to require the immunization of any child whose parents are opposed to medical immunization against disease, and who object by a written sworn statement to the immunization of such child on religious grounds.
LOUISIANA ADMINISTRATIVE CODE
TITLE 20 - Education Code
[Note: Check current statute, by phoning the state capital and requesting a copy.]
§ 6355. Enrollment in school. No superintendent may permit any child to be enrolled in or to attend school without a certificate of immunization for each disease or other acceptable evidence of required immunization or immunity against the disease, except as follows.
3. Moral, philosophical or personal reasons. The parent states in writing a sincere religious belief which is contrary to the immunization requirement of this subchapter or an opposition to the immunization for moral, philosophical or other personal reasons [1983, c. 661, § 8].
TITLE 7 - PUBLIC SCHOOLS SUBTITLE 4. HEALTH AND SAFETY OF STUDENTS - 403 - Immunizations (a) Rules and regulations . .
(b) Exception. - (1) Unless the Secretary of Health and Mental Hygiene declares an emergency or an epidemic of disease, a child whose parent or guardian objects to immunization on the ground that it conflicts with the parent’s or guardian’s bona fide religious beliefs and practices may not be required to present a physician’s certification of immunization in order to be admitted to school. (2) The Secretary of Health and Mental Hygiene shall adopt rules and regulations for religious exemptions under this subsection.
[Note: You should go to a library and obtain a copy of the Maryland State Regulations, to find the specific things you need to do to fully comply with the exemption requirements.]
MASSACHUSETTS GENERAL LAWS
Chapter 76: Section 15. Vaccination and immunization . .
Section 15 . . In the absence of an emergency or epidemic of disease declared by the department of public health, no child whose parent or guardian states in writing that vaccination or immunization conflicts with his sincere religious beliefs shall be required to present said physician’s certificate in order to be admitted to school.
MICHIGAN STATUTES ANNOTATED
333.9205 Immunization of child required.
Sec. 9205 . .
Sec. 9215. (1) A child is exempt from the requirements of this part as to a specific immunization for any period of time as to which a physician certifies that a specific immunization is or may be detrimental to the child’s health or is not appropriate.
(2) A child is exempt from this part if a parent, guardian, or person in loco parentis of the child presents a written statement to the administrator of the child’s school or operator of the group program to the effect that the requirements of this part cannot be met because of religious convictions or other objection to immunization.
Chapter Title: STUDENT RIGHTS, RESPONSIBILITIES, AND BEHAVIOR
Section: 121A.15 Health standards; immunizations; school children . .
Subd. 3. Exemptions from immunizations . .
(d) If a notarized statement signed by the minor child’s parent or guardian or by the emancipated person is submitted to the administrator or other person having general control and supervision of the school or child care facility stating that the person has not been immunized as prescribed in subdivision 1 because of the conscientiously held beliefs of the parent or guardian of the minor child or of the emancipated person, the immunizations specified in the statement shall not be required. This statement must also be forwarded to the commissioner of the department of health.
MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972 (As Amended)
[Note: Unfortunately Mississippi is one of the few states which permit exemption only due to medical reasons. A pursuasive parent should be able to convince a doctor of the medical dangers by reviewing the warnings which are already supplied with the vaccine. Another such state is North Carolina].
SEC. 41-23-37 . .
A certificate of exemption from vaccination for medical reasons may be offered on behalf of a child by a duly licensed physician and may be accepted by the local health officer when, in his opinion, such exemption will not cause undue risk to the community.
Immunization of School Children
167.181. Immunization of pupils . .
3. This section shall not apply to any child if one parent or guardian objects in writing to his school administrator against the immunization of the child, because of religious beliefs or medical contraindications. In cases where any such objection is for reasons of medical contraindications, a statement from a duly licensed physician must also be provided to the school administrator.
MONTANA CODE ANNOTATED
TITLE 20 - Education Code
20-5-403 . .
20-5-405. Medical or religious exemption.
(1) When a parent, guardian, or adult who has the responsibility for the care and custody of a minor seeking to attend school or the person seeking to attend school, if an adult, signs and files with the governing authority, prior to the commencement of attendance each school year, a notarized affidavit on a form  prescribed by the department stating that immunization is contrary to the religious tenets and practices of the signer, immunization of the person seeking to attend the school may not be required prior to attendance at the school. The statement must be maintained as part of the person’s immunization records. A person who falsely claims a religious exemption is subject to the penalty for false swearing provided in 45-7-202.
LAW 79-217 . .
LAW 79-221 Immunization shall not be required for a student’s enrollment in any school in this state if he or she submits to the admitting official either of the following: . .
(2) An affidavit signed by the student or, if he or she is a minor, by a legally authorized representative of the student, stating that the immunization conflicts with the tenets and practice of a recognized religious denomination of which the student is an adherent or member or that immunization conflicts with the personal and sincerely followed religious beliefs of the student.
NEVADA REVISED STATUTES
NRS 392.435 . .
NRS 392.437 Immunization of pupils: Exemption if prohibited by religious belief. A public school shall not refuse to enroll a child as a pupil because the child has not been immunized pursuant to NRS 392.435 if the parents or guardian of the child has submitted to the board of trustees of the school district or the governing body of a charter school in which the child has been accepted for enrollment a written statement indicating that their religious belief prohibits immunization of such child or ward.
NEW HAMPSHIRE STATUTES
TITLE 10 Public Health
§ 141-C:20-a Immunization . .
§ 141-C:20-c Exemptions. - A child shall be exempt from immunization if: . .
II. A parent or legal guardian objects to immunization because of religious beliefs. The parent or legal guardian shall sign a notarized form stating that the child has not been immunized because of religious beliefs.
NEW JERSEY PERMANENT STATUTES
26:1A-7. State Sanitary Code
HEALTH AND VITAL STATISTICS
Title 26 . .
26:1A-9.1. Exemption for pupils from mandatory immunization; interference with religious rights; suspension . .
Provisions in the State Sanitary Code in implementation of this act shall provide for exemption for pupils from mandatory immunization if the parent or guardian of the pupil objects thereto in a written statement signed by the parent or guardian upon the ground that the proposed immunization interferes with the free exercise of the pupil’s religious rights. This exemption may be suspended by the State Commissioner of Health during the existence of an emergency as determined by the State Commissioner of Health.
NEW MEXICO STATUTES
CHAPTER 24 - Health & Safety
24-5-2 . .
24-5-3 Exemption from immunization.
A. Any minor child through his parent or guardian may file with the health authority charged with the duty of enforcing the immunization laws: . .
(1) a certificate of a duly licensed physician stating that the physical condition of the child is such that immunization would seriously endanger the life or health of the child; or
(2) affidavits or written affirmation from an officer of a recognized religious denomination that such child’s parents or guardians are bona fide members of a denomination whose religious teaching requires reliance upon prayer or spiritual means alone for healing; or
(3) affidavits or written affirmation from his parent or legal guardian that his religious beliefs, held either individually or jointly with others, do not permit the administration of vaccine or other immunizing agent.
B. Upon filing and approval of such certificate, affidavits or affirmation, the child is exempt from the legal requirement of immunization for a period not to exceed nine months on the basis of any one certificate, affidavits or affirmation.
NEW YORK STATE STATUTES
[Note: There are two relevant sections, Education Code and Public Health. The exemption is found at the end of the Public Health Statute.]
§ 914. Immunization of children . .
9. This section shall not apply to children whose parent, parents, or guardian hold genuine and sincere religious beliefs which are contrary to the practices herein required, and no certificate shall be required as a prerequisite to such children being admitted or received into school or attending school.
NORTH CAROLINA STATUTES
Elementary and Secondary Education.
§ 115C-547 Policy . .
In conformity with the Constitutions of the United States and of North Carolina, it is the public policy of the State in matters of education that “No human authority shall, in any case whatever, control or interfere with the rights of conscience,” or with religious liberty and that “religion, morality and knowledge being necessary to good government and the happiness of mankind . . the means of education shall forever be encouraged” . .
(3) Exemptions from the immunization requirements where medical practice suggests that immunization would not be in the best health interests of a specific category of children.
[Note: Unfortunately North Carolina is one of the few states which permit exemption only due to medical reasons. (Mississippi is another one.) A pursuasive parent should be able to convince any doctor of the medical dangers by reviewing the warnings which are already supplied with the vaccine. Pointing out the first paragraph, quoted above (which is not next to the exemption paragraph), would help.]
NORTH DAKOTA CENTURY CODE
TITLE 23 - Health & Safety
23-07-17 Vaccination or inoculation not required for admission to any school or for the exercise of a right. Repealed by S.L. 1975, ch. 224, § 2.
3. Any minor child, through the child’s parent or guardian, may submit to the institution authorities either a certificate from a licensed physician stating that the physical condition of the child is such that immunization would endanger the life or health of the child or a certificate signed by the child’s parent or guardian whose religious, philosophical, or moral beliefs are opposed to such immunization. The minor child is then exempt from the provisions of this section.
OHIO REVISED STATUTES
TITLE 33 Education — Libraries
[§ 3313.67.1] § 3313.671 Required immunizations; exceptions . .
(3) A pupil who presents a written statement of the pupil’s parent or guardian in which the parent or guardian objects to the immunization for good cause, including religious convictions, is not required to be immunized.
§70-1210.191 . .
Any minor child, through the parent, guardian, or legal custodian of the child, may submit to the health authority charged with the enforcement of the immunization laws of this state: . .
2. A written statement by the parent, guardian or legal custodian of the child objecting to immunization of the child; whereupon the child shall be exempt from the immunization laws of this state.
OREGON REVISED STATUTES
433.267 . .
(c) A statement signed by the parent that the child has not been immunized as described in paragraph (a) of this subsection because the child is being reared as an adherent to a religion, the teachings of which are opposed to such immunization.
Title 28 Health & Safety
§ 23.83 Immunization requirements . .
§ 23.84 Exemption from immunization . .
(b) Religious exemption. Children need not be immunized if the parent, guardian or emancipated child objects in writing to the immunization on religious grounds or on the basis of a strong moral or ethical conviction similar to a religious belief.
RHODE ISLAND STATUTES
TITLE 16 - Education Code
Offenses Pertaining to Schools
SECTION 16-38-2 Immunization . .
(a) Every person upon entering any public or private school including any college or university in this state as a pupil shall furnish to the administrative head of the school evidence that the person has been immunized against such diseases as may from time to time be prescribed by regulation of the director of health and tested for tuberculosis, or a certificate from a licensed physician stating that the person is not a fit subject for immunization for medical reasons, or a certificate signed by the pupil, if over eighteen (18) years of age, or by the parent or guardian stating that immunization and/or testing for communicable diseases is contrary to that person’s religious beliefs. It shall be the responsibility of the administrative head of the school to secure compliance with these regulations.
SOUTH CAROLINA CODE
TITLE 44 HEALTH
CHAPTER 29 CONTAGIOUS AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES
SECTION 44-29-40 . .
(D) A South Carolina Certificate of Special Exemption signed by the school principal, authorized representative, or day care director may be issued to transfer students while awaiting arrival of medical records from their former area of residence or to other students who have been unable to secure immunizations or documentation of immunizations already received. A South Carolina Certificate of Special Exemption may be issued only once and is valid for only thirty calendar days from date of enrollment. At the expiration of this special exemption, the student must present a valid South Carolina Certificate of Immunization, a valid South Carolina Certificate of Medical Exemption, or a valid South Carolina Certificate of Religious Exemption.
[Here is the second section on this, located later in the legal code:]
CODE OF REGULATIONS
CHAPTER 61. DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND ENVIRONMENTAL CONTROL
61-8 Vaccination, Screening and Immunization Regarding Contagious Diseases . .
2. Religious Exemption. A South Carolina Certificate of Religious Exemption may be granted to any student whose parents, parent, guardian, or person in loco parentis signs the appropriate section of the South Carolina Certificate of Religious Exemption stating they are members of a recognized religious denomination in which the tenets and practices of the religious denomination conflict with immunizations.
3. Special Exemptions . . A South Carolina Certificate of Special Exemption may be issued only once and shall be valid for only thirty (30) calendar days from date of enrollment. At the expiration of this special exemption, the student must present a valid South Carolina Certificate of Immunization, or a valid South Carolina Certificate of Medical Exemption, or a valid South Carolina Certificate of Religious Exemption.
B. Blank forms for the South Carolina Certificate of Medical Exemption, South Carolina Certificate of Religious Exemption, and South Carolina Certificate of Special Exemption will be provided by the Department of Health and Environmental Control.
[Note: As does Texas, South Carolina only gives the religious exemption to those belonging to a “recognized” church or denomination which does not believe in vaccinations.]
SOUTH DAKOTA STATUTES
TITLE 13 Education
§ 13-28-7.1 . .
(2) A written statement signed by one parent or guardian that the child is an adherent to a religious doctrine whose teachings are opposed to such test and immunization.
Requirements do not apply to any “child whose parent or guardian files with proper authorities a signed, written statement that such immunization and other preventative measures conflict with the religious tenets and practices of the parent or guardian affirmed under penalties of perjury.”
TEXAS EDUCATION CODE
Sec. 38.001 . .
(c) Immunization is not required for a person’s admission to any elementary or secondary school if the person applying for admission:
(1) submits to the admitting official:
(B) an affidavit signed by the applicant or, if a minor, by the applicant’s parent or guardian stating that the immunization conflicts with the tenets and practice of a recognized church or religious denomination of which the applicant is an adherent or member.
UTAH HEALTH CODE
53A-11-301 Certificate of immunization required . .
(1) Unless exempted for personal, medical, or religious objections as provided in Section 53A-11-302, a student may not attend [school without having received immunization] . .
53A-11-3025. Personal belief immunization exemption. (1) The Department of Health shall provide to all local health departments a form to be used by persons claiming an exemption from immunization requirements based on a personal belief opposed to immunization. The form shall include a statement printed on the form and drafted by the Department of Health stating the department’s position regarding the benefits of immunization. The form shall require, at a minimum:
(a) a statement claiming exemption from immunizations required under Section 53A-11-302, signed by a person listed under Subsection 53A-11-302(3)(c);
(b) the name and address of the person who signs the form;
(c) the name of the student exempted from immunizations; and
(d) the school at which the student is enrolling.
TITLE 18 - Health Code
§ 1121 . .
§ 1122 Exemptions.
(3) If the person, or in the case of a minor the person’s parent or guardian states in writing that the person, parent or guardian has religious beliefs or moral convictions opposed to immunization.
§ 32.1-46 . .
D. The provisions of this section shall not apply if:
1. The parent or guardian of the child objects thereto on the grounds that the administration of immunizing agents conflicts with his religious tenets or practices, unless an emergency or epidemic of disease has been declared by the Board.
REVISED CODE OF WASHINGTON (RCW)
TITLE 28A RCW COMMON SCHOOL PROVISIONS
CHAPTER 28A.210 RCW HEALTH—SCREENING AND REQUIREMENTS
RCW 28A.210.090 Immunization program . .
Exemptions from on presentation of alternative certifications.
Any child shall be exempt in whole or in part from the immunization measures required by RCW 28A.210.060 through 28A.210.170 upon the presentation of any one or more of the following, on a form prescribed by the department of health: . .
(2) A written certification signed by any parent or legal guardian of the child or any adult in loco parentis [in place of the parent] to the child that the religious beliefs of the signator [the one who signed it] are contrary to the required immunization measures; and
(3) A written certification signed by any parent or legal guardian of the child or any adult in loco parentis to the child that the signator has either a philosophical or personal objection to the immunization of the child.
[Note: Here is a significant separate portion of the code, requiring the local county superintendent to inform parents of their legal rights:]
RCW 28A.210.130 Immunization program—Superintendent of public instruction to provide information.
The superintendent of public instruction shall provide for information about the immunization program and requirements under RCW 28A.210.060 through 28A.210.170 to be widely available throughout the state in order to promote full use of the program.
[Another separate portion of the legal code:]
RCW 28A.330.100 Additional powers of board: . . (12) To appoint a practicing physician, resident of the school district, who shall be known as the school district medical inspector and whose duty it shall be to decide for the board of directors all questions of sanitation and health affecting the safety and welfare of the public schools of the district who shall serve at the board’s pleasure: PROVIDED, that children shall not be required to submit to vaccination against the will of their parents or guardian.
DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA CODE
TITLE 31 Education & Cultural Institutions
§ 31-502 . .
§ 31-506 Exemption from certification.
No certification of immunization shall be required for the admission to a school of a student:
(1) For whom the responsible person objects in good faith and in writing, to the chief official of the school, that immunization would violate his or her religious beliefs; or
(2) For whom the school has written certification by a private physician, his or her representative, or the public health authorities that immunization is medically inadvisable.
WEST VIRGINIA STATUTES
TITLE 20 - Public Health
Any parent or guardian who refuses to permit his or her child to be immunized against . . [many diseases] . . showing that immunization for any or all is impossible or improper, or sufficient reason why any or all immunizations should not be done, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor, and except as herein otherwise provided, shall, upon conviction, be punished by a fine of not less than ten nor more than fifty dollars for each offense.
[Note: The above, one sentence, provides for three outcomes. Rephrased, it reads as follows:
Any parent who refuses to permit the child to be immunized, who cannot give proof of these immunizations OR provides a doctor’s certificate OR sufficient reason, may be fined.
These are very similar to other state’s requirements, although phrased differently. “Sufficient reason” is that it is against your religious belief.
120.12(16) (16) Immunization of children . .
252.04 Immunization program . .
252.04(3) The immunization requirement is waived if the student, if an adult, or the student’s parent, guardian or legal custodian submits a written statement to the school, day care center or nursery school objecting to the immunization for reasons of health, religion or personal conviction. At the time any school, day care center, or nursery school notifies a student, parent, guardian or legal custodian of the immunization requirements, it shall inform the person in writing of the person’s right to a waiver under this subsection.
Title 21 Education
21-4-309 . .
Waivers shall be authorized by the state or county health officer upon submission of written evidence of religious objection or medical contraindication to the administration of any vaccine.