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Religious Beliefs or School Policy? Your opinion to immunize your child(ren)?

Religious beliefs or school policy? Your opinion to immunize your child(ren)? Do you or don’t you think this is a situation of religious beliefs or school policy?  Do you think it is a good idea to immunize your child(ren)? This blog is a bit different from what has been written in the past. I am looking for your opinion on a situation that recently happened with a client. Religious Beliefs or School Policy?

Recently, a preschool teacher where a close friend of mine works, encountered a situation with a new student who was not immunized. The reason was because the child’s parents’ religious beliefs aninjection-100257544 they chose not to immunize their child.

This situation brings up so many discussions. Let me preface, I have my own opinion on this topic. However, my blog is to hear both sides and to bring to your attention the discrepancy and the confusion in this situation it has for all involved.

A little background on this current situation… One of the teachers was looking through student files for something else. As she was looking for a different document, she found a sticky note on one of the student’s files that said, “no immunization” and nothing else. The immunizations that so many are concerned about are measles, mumps, and chickenpox. However in more recent years, whooping cough has become a big concern. Many immunizations are required, but whooping cough immunization is not and neither is the flu immunization. Further the law states that one can have an exemption from immunization for religious beliefs except for two states, Mississippi and West Virginia.

http://www.ncsl.org/research/health/school-immunization-exemption-state-laws.aspx

The teacher became concerned for herself, the child, the other children in her class and lastly, her sister. Her sister you ask? Yes, and here’s why… The teacher is the power of attorney for her sister. Her sister she has a debilitating health disease. The teacher was concerned because in the instance her sister’s health deteriorates, she wanted to know what happens if she (the teacher) gets sick, can the teacher be around her sister? What are their rights in this situation?

Today, I received a call from the teacher. She asked me what her rights are? She also asked me what to do for her sister and wanted her sister to call her doctor to find out some facts. I talked to the sister and her doctor. All of us had some “fine-line” questions.

Just a few questions:

  1. Can the teacher be around the child and then be around her sister?
  2. Does the teacher have permission to choose not to teach this child or have the child be put in a different classroom?
  3. What happens if the child gets sick? Does the child wear a mask? Do the other children have to wear masks? Can the child be in school while sick? How are the parents informed that the child is in school while sick?
  4. What can the teacher do to avoid getting sick?
  5. What happens if the sister gets sick and the teacher needs to act as her power of attorney?

Some comments from the doctor, not explaining his opinion, just comments and things to think about:

  1. To avoid getting sick, the teacher would need a “booster” and get the immunization for whooping cough.
  2. In this case, everyone else has to take precaution for one who doesn’t have to do anything.
  3. Suggestion, have the child wear a mask and gloves every day to protect them or have all the other children wear a mask a gloves everyday to protect, them.

A few more Questions to HR:

  1. What is the difference of telling parents that a child(ten) has lice, vs. a child(ten) that is not immunized? Do you find it to be the same type of scenario. Let me explain that in both situations, the child(ten) is protected under HIPAA. Further, this means the school may not tell who the student is, but that the letter only provides notice and ways to protect your child(ten) since exposed.
  2. Whose rights are being violated?
  3. Was the sticky note really appropriate?
  4. How would you make this policy better and more efficient?

As we were talking about many different scenarios, I explained to her that Peyton, my new black lab had to get her vaccines before she could go to doggie day camp. She snickered a bit…. And found that to be a black and white situation, they all have to have vaccines otherwise, they can’t join in the fun, no if, ands, buts or tails.I realize this situation is different from those with pets, but is it really? Let me ask you this, why does it matter if a child(ten) have or does not have immunizations if they go out in public? No one checks your immunization records at the front door of Target.

We all have freedom of religion and freedom to choose for ourselves what we want to do to keep ourselves healthy while keeping loyal to our faith. However, let me ask you this question… What would you do in this situation? Do you see it that one has to take extra precaution because one doesn’t have to do anything? Or do you see this situation as if the parents’ choose not to immunize their child(ren) they are taking the risk on their own child(ren). Would you take your child(ren) out of this school if you believe in having your child(ren) immunized?

In this situation, do you find this to be a violation of religious beliefs? Or do you see this as a violation of school policy? Or both? Neither? Some may say that if you don’t like the rules, you are welcome to choose to go somewhere else.

What do you think? Religious Beliefs or School Policy?