The American Medical Association Just Voted to End Personal Vaccination Exemptions

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The American Medical Association, the country’s largest association of physicians, is weighing in on the vaccination debate by supporting the end of personal vaccination exemptions on both the state and federal levels.

At the group’s annual meeting in Chicago on Monday, members voted to mobilize the organization in order to persuade state legislatures to eliminate nonmedical reasons for exemption, such as religion, which are used to dodge crucial immunizations against diseases such as measles and whooping cough.

“As evident from the recent measles outbreak at Disneyland, protecting community health in today’s mobile society requires that policymakers not permit individuals from opting out of immunization solely as a matter of personal preference or convenience,” said board member Dr. Patrice Harris, according to Forbes. “When people are immunized they also help prevent the spread of disease to others.”

Last December, 117 people who had visited Disneyland in Orange County, California were infected with the highly contagious disease. Other states also reported outbreaks and an old debate about the safety of vaccines was revived.

CDC

At the time, the right to personal exemptions quickly became a lightening rod of controversy that even extended to potential presidential candidates who were asked for their position in the vaccine debate. Senator Rand Paul said vaccinations should be voluntary and suggested immunization could even lead to “profound mental disorders.” Hillary Clinton took a firmer stance than she had in previous years by supporting vaccinations outright.

Although the debate has died down in recent months on the national scale, on the state level vaccination remains a contentious issue. Today in California, where the measles outbreak began, the state’s assembly will vote on a bill to end personal waivers.

“It’s such a no brainer. You’re protecting the kid next to you,” said AMA member Dr. James Felsen. 

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You expect the big picture, and it's our job at Mother Jones to give it to you. And right now, so many of the troubles we face are the making not of a virus, but of the quest for profit, political or economic (and not just from the man in the White House who could have offered leadership and comfort but instead gave us bleach).

In "News Is Just Like Waste Management," we unpack what the coronavirus crisis has meant for journalism, including Mother Jones’, and how we can rise to the challenge. If you're able to, this is a critical moment to support our nonprofit journalism with a donation: We've scoured our budget and made the cuts we can without impairing our mission, and we hope to raise $400,000 from our community of online readers to help keep our big reporting projects going because this extraordinary pandemic-plus-election year is no time to pull back.

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