One of the mysterious things about vaccine exemptions is the religious exemption, since most religions don’t have any particular problem with vaccination in general (Christian Scientists and some Dutch Reformed do, along with anti-abortion advocates who oppose vaccines derived from cell lines originally harvested from fetuses). Religious exemptions, which in some states have lax guidelines, are being used as an end-around medical exemptions (which aren’t always forthcoming). So it’s encouraging to see Maryland, which hasn’t had a measles case so far, outline this potential response policy (boldface mine):
Parents in Maryland have the right to opt out of vaccinating their children. But those rules would go out the window if there’s an emergency measles outbreak.
Maryland allows medical and religious exemptions to vaccines, but could revoke those exemptions in an emergency. Doctors would be instructed to review the medical exemptions they granted, to see if any of their patients were now healthy enough to get vaccinated. Parents who claimed a religious exemption would have to either vaccinate their children or keep them home from school. The state could require unvaccinated children to stay out of school, under quarantine, for 21 days.
The quarantine proviso is really important, as I noted in a slightly different context:
There is also a second policy that should be enacted: quarantining the unvaccinated when they return from abroad. Most of our measles outbreaks, when we can trace back the source, originate from an unvaccinated person returning from another country.
Unlike, let’s say, I dunno, Ebola, we really can’t tell if someone has the measles (a person can be contagious for up to a week with no symptoms). And you really can get it just by being in the same room as someone who has it. Quarantines would be appropriate here.
Well done, Maryland (even if you guys can’t drive very well…)