BUCKLAND, Mass. (WWLP) – A growing measles outbreak has put a nationwide focus on childhood vaccinations. Under Massachusetts regulations, parents can refuse to vaccinate their children for religious and medical reasons, and schools have to honor that choice.
Susan Mitchell, District Nurse Leader for the Mohawk Trail Regional School District, told 22News that parents do not need to provide any proof for a religious exemption.
The Massachusetts Department of Public Health does require all children provide documentation of necessary immunizations before they start school, however, if parents object to these immunizations for religious reasons, they are allowed to sign a form from the state stating that their child is not vaccinated.
“We’re not here to doubt the parents. If the parents come in and say they have a religious exemption, we have them sign the form, but we also do a counseling with them. We explain to them if there is an outbreak, those students whose parents refuse to have them vaccinated, will have to be excluded from school if there’s an outbreak,” Mitchell said.
HIPA laws do not allow schools to notify other parents if their children’s classmates are not vaccinated.
Mitchell also told 22News that if a child is homeless or under the care of the Department of Children and Families and they don’t have medical records, they are exempt and still allowed to enroll in school.
Mitchell says that the biggest reason that parents do not vaccinate children, other than religious reasons, is concerns that vaccinations could compromise the child’s health.