More than 4,000 students were exempt from vaccinations for religious reasons last school year

Over than 4,000 students exempt from vaccinations last year

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - The Alabama Department of Public Health is reminding parents to keep their children up to date with vaccinations before school begins.

“There are kids who truly cannot medically get the vaccines and that’s why it’s very important for all the ones who are eligible to receive the vaccine get it," said Cindy Lesinger, the Alabama Department of Public Health immunization division director.

By law students in public and private schools are required to get vaccinations, however, some are exempt. Students can get medical and religious exemptions.

Click here to see the recommendations and requirements for students.

There were 4,503 students who had partial religious or religious exemptions in the 2018-2019 school year, according to the Alabama Public Health Department data. There were 644 students with medical exemptions. This makes up less than one percent of the student population in Alabama.

You can see the county breakdown for exemptions here.

Here is the breakdown of the number religious exemptions for some Alabama counties:

  • Madison County there were 435 religious exemptions
  • Jefferson County there were 389 religious exemptions
  • Montgomery County there were 57 exemptions.

Theresa Wrangham is with the National Vaccine Information Center, which is a nonprofit advocating for people to make their own decisions regarding vaccinations.

“It needs to be voluntary and people need to have access to accurate information on diseases and vaccines so that they can make an informed decision," Wrangham said.

Some Alabama lawmakers tried to get rid of the religious exemptions earlier this year, but that bill died during the 2019 legislative session.

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