Parents seek more exemptions for vaccinations

CHARLESTON (AP) — West Virginia has some of the strictest limits on exempting schoolchildren from vaccines. Some parents are lobbying the Legislature to change that.

Only one other state, Mississippi, also does not allow children to skip immunizations for religious reasons. Twenty states allow philosophical objections, including neighboring Ohio and Pennsylvania.

Parents who addressed legislators at a House-Senate hearing last month seek a religious exemption for West Virginia. They argue vaccines should be treated like any other medical procedure.

These parents also express concerns that vaccines contain cells from abortions, or are for sexually transmitted diseases. They also suspect a financial motive behind vaccination requirements.

Public health officials sought to address such concerns at the legislative hearing. These officials warn that further exemptions will worsen West Virginia’s already poor immunization rates.

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