Study determines which states have the most, least effective vaccine exemption policies

States with lax vaccination laws that allow philosophical exemptions and use standardized exemption forms have higher rates of pertussis, or whooping cough, according to a new study from the University of Georgia that was published in the journal Health Affairs.

Vaccination exemption rates have increased drastically in the past 10 years, and the study suggests the increase is due largely to religious and philosophical reasons, which fall under the nonmedical exemption category.

"We are seeing a significant association between pertussis rates and vaccination exemption," said study author David Bradford, PhD. "States with stricter policies have lower pertussis rates, which shows that policymakers do have it within their power to further limit the spread of these diseases."

Ultimately, the study revealed three state laws and policies that were linked to lower whooping cough rates, including requiring state health department approval for nonmedical vaccination exemptions, allowing exemption from only specific vaccines instead of all vaccines and levying criminal and civil punishment against those who do not comply with vaccination policies.

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The researchers also ranked states by their vaccination policies and whether they were most, somewhat, less or least effective.

The 18 states with the most effective vaccination exemption policies are:

  • Alabama
  • Arkansas
  • Delaware
  • Florida
  • Indiana
  • Iowa
  • Kansas
  • Kentucky
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • Missouri
  • Montana
  • Nebraska
  • Nevada
  • New Mexico
  • North Carolina
  • South Dakota; and
  • Tennessee

The nine states with the least effective laws are:

  • Colorado
  • Idaho
  • Michigan
  • Minnesota
  • Texas
  • Utah
  • Vermont
  • Washington; and
  • Wisconsin

To read more about the study and state vaccination policies, click here.



More articles on vaccines:
Psychologists explore how best to convince vaccine skeptics to reconsider
Parents' vaccine views are shifting: 5 things providers should know
California Gov. signs bill to limit vaccine exemptions in schools

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