With kids returning to school, it’s worthwhile to remember that North Carolina is one of 48 states (along with the Department of Defense) that provides a religious exemption for vaccines. As provided by G.S. 130A-156 and 130A-157, North Carolina permits medical and religious vaccine exemptions. A medical exemption may be obtained from a licensed physician who certifies that a required vaccine is or may be detrimental to a person’s health. A religious exemption may be obtained by submitting a statement to a school official that confirms in writing that a person has a “bona fide” religious belief against immunization, in general, or certain immunizations (such as those cultured on aborted fetal tissue). According to the N.C. Immunization Branch: “Statements of religious objection to immunization do not need to be notarized or prepared by an attorney. They do not need to be submitted to the state for review or approval.”
Given that two of the vaccines required by the state — chickenpox and rubella — are cultured on aborted fetal tissue, it is good to know that parents still have the right to choose whether to vaccinate or not. Under current law, state officials have no right to question the reasons or motives behind a request for a religious exemption. Such a request can also be based on personal religious beliefs, even when such beliefs do not enjoy formal ecclesiastical support.
For more information on vaccine exemptions, see http://www.immunizenc.com/Exemptions.htm