Vaccine Exemption Requires Care Provider Signature

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SPRINGFIELD – The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) says a new law will require parents or legal guardians objecting to immunizations, for religious reasons, to get a signature from their health care provider.

This new legislation was signed into law on August 3, 2015. It will take effect beginning October 16, 2015.

Parents objecting to their child being immunized for school entrance can do so, but they need to have a health care provider sign a Certificate of Religious Exemption. In doing that, health care providers are confirming they have provided education to the parents or legal guardians about the benefits of immunization and the health risks of not vaccinating students.

Educational information may include nationally accepted recommendations from federal agencies, information from vaccine information statements and vaccine package inserts.

IDPH Director Nirav D. Shah, M.D., J.D., acknowledges that vaccines are not always 100 percent effective but still stresses the importance of being vaccinated.

“It is important that as many people as possible are immunized to decrease the amount of disease circulating and help prevent illness and possibly even death,” Shah explains.

State Superintendent of Education Tony Smith, Ph.D., says the Illinois State Board of Education recognizes the importance of providing an option for religious exemption but goes on to say there must also be a “balance between family rights and the health of all students.”

This certificate also ensures parents or legal guardians understand their child may be excluded from school in the case of an outbreak or exposure. It must be submitted to their local school authority prior to entering kindergarten, sixth grade and ninth grade.

The new Certificate of Religious Exemption form will be available on both the IDPH and the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) websites in the near future.

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