As health officials fight a measles outbreak that has affected about 120 people throughout the west coast, many U.S states are now considering laws to make it harder for parents to legally opt out of vaccinating their children. All U.S. states require certain vaccines for diseases such as mumps, rubella, tetanus, or polio. But according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, at least 20 states have school immunization laws that grant exemptions to children for medical reasons, including an inhibited immune system. Lawmakers in California, Oregon, and Washington state, which have all had recent measles outbreaks, want to remove exemptions based on personal beliefs. On Wednesday, lawmakers in California, which has 99 confirmed cases, said they would introduce legislation requiring all school children to be vaccinated unless a child’s life is threatened. Some lawmakers, however, are backing measures that expand parental freedoms disregarding mainstream medicine and science supporting vaccinations. Bills in New York and Montana are adding philosophical and personal beliefs to the current medical exemption. Proposals in Mississippi and West Virginia would add exemptions for “medical reasons or conscientious beliefs” and on religious grounds. How often do you discuss vaccinations with your patients? What are some of the questions regarding vaccinations that you typically respond to?
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