With school starting soon, I've been getting requests for the vaccine exemption letter we use. I have this posted within a long post I did on "Why We Don't Vaccinate". But, some people have had trouble finding it so I thought I'd post it separately. This one is specific to Illinois so if you live in another state, please check with your state's requirements first. In Illinois, you have to use the word "spiritual" or "personal religious beliefs" at least three times in your letter. Of course, IL could change their policy at any time, so please check the IL Vaccine Awareness Coalition web site. In IL you can also get a letter of medical exemption written by your doctor. Good luck with that. Some doctors will sign one if your child has some autoimmune disease or something.
When submitting your religious exemption letter, here are a few tips. Get the school physical form that the school gives you (if they need a physical that year). Have the doctor fill out everything else. If you refuse vaccines, they just write over the vaccine section "Refused." Don't be scared by the nurses in your doctor's office either. They are usually totally unaware of the laws because I can't tell you how many times I've been asked by the nurses, "How will your kids go to school?" I was told my kids would not be allowed to attend school without their vaccines. Wrong. That's what the pharmaceutical companies want you to think.
Behind this form put your exemption letter. Usually, you'll have a few other forms to turn in to the school at the same time. Registration info, dental exam, etc. Just turn it in with all of that together. This is better than turning it in separate because it brings less attention to your letter. If ever questioned about your letter, be very confident like you know the laws and your rights. Sometimes it is the school receptionist who is questioning you, and most of the time they have no idea what the laws are. If it's the school nurse, they are usually better informed. If they are fully aware of all of the laws, they will not give you a hard time at all. They will simply tell you that if one of these diseases were to break out at the school, then you will asked to keep your child at home until it is under control.
In the last 10 years, I've never once been asked to keep my kids at home. Why? Because there has never been an outbreak of one of these diseases. If there were, I'm sure we would have gotten a letter home to the class about it. We get letters every time someone has strep. I also believe if there were an outbreak, some nurses may not remember which kids were the ones who were not vaccinated. I'm thinking they are just required to tell us that.
If questioned by a school administrator who does not know the law, they may question your religious belief. This is illegal and tell them so. They cannot question your personal religious belief.
I heard of someone in IL who was denied religious exemption at a Catholic school because she stated she was refusing vaccines based on her Catholic religion (because of the fact that some vaccines are made from aborted fetuses). She should have stated in her letter that it was due to her own personal religious beliefs. You cannot use your religion. They told her that the Catholic church was not against vaccines and therefore she could either vaccinate or take her child out of that school. I believe she took him out of the school. Knowledge is everything!
Some people have asked me about what they should do if they have already vaccinated their child some, but have decided to stop. You can use the same letter. You can have the same life-long held belief, but just recently discovered what vaccines are made of, etc. and just recently decided to stop vaccinating.
I vaccinated my first son on two occasions until he was two months old. I chose not to reveal this. It helped that I switched doctors when he was about a year old or so. When we switched to our new doctor, I just told them that we didn't vaccinate. I didn't tell them that we did a couple times, and then stopped. So, they didn't push to get all of our old records since they mostly want their vaccine records. Or you can get a copy of your old records sent to you, not your new doctor, and not pass along the vaccine records.
We also sometimes to go the Walgreens Take Care Walk-In Clinic for some of our school physicals. Our insurance is terrible and we have a high co-pay so it's cheaper for me to go to Walgreens sometimes. They have no records. You just tell them that you don't vaccinate and they will fill out the rest of the form.
Click below for more information about the laws in Illinois pertaining to vaccines as well as some more sample letters. This is the web site I used to form my letter.
IL Vaccine Awareness Coalition Sample Exemption Letters
You also want to keep your letter short and sweet and to the point. Don't over-explain anything. This will just give them more things to catch you on. You don't need to explain how vaccines are made or give them any stats.
Realize that your letter will probably be read by the school nurse and probably the school principal. In keeping with the law, the school simply needs to keep your letter on file. If you turn it in at a time when the school is very busy and accepting a lot of applications, they may not spend much time on it. The school officials also may not be up to speed on the laws so don't be concerned if they try to give you a hard time. They will only be doing so if they are unaware of the laws. Your letter is like garlic to a vampire. :) Flash it in their face and tell them to ask no questions. Schools don't want to spend money on attorneys to look over your letters either. If the letter looks somewhat valid, they should just accept it. The only time they have to worry about it is if they were audited by the state for some crazy reason. I've never heard of that happening, especially in IL who has one of the worst records in the country for school performance. They have a lot more problems to deal with in Chicago and the fact that the whole state's school system is running out of money.
You will need to hand in your exemption letter every time your child is required to have a school physical so that is usually day care, preschool, Kindergarten, 2nd grade, 6th grade, high school, and college. I've used the below letter for the last 10 years at about 8 different schools - public, private, churches, preschools, etc. Never once have I been questioned.
Although, this year there is a new principal at our Christian school and they sent out a rather threatening e-mail that reads: "Families that are non-compliant with completing required immunizations will be referred to the appropriate school administrator and your child may be withheld from school attendance if non-compliance persists." I laughed.
Last year, their letters would state something to the effect of: "If you choose not to vaccinate, please turn in an exemption letter, etc."
Our family's letter:
To Whom It May Concern:
As parents, based on our personal religious beliefs, we object to the following vaccinations, including but not limited to, Dtap/DPT, HepB, Hib, Tetanus (TB), MMR, Polio, and Varicella (Chicken Pox), for our child, ___________.
Our child’s body is the temple of God. Our family’s personal religious beliefs prohibit the injection of foreign substances into our bodies. To inject into our child any substance which would alter the state into which he was born would be to criticize our Lord and question His divine omnipotence. Our faith will not allow us to question our Lord and God, nor to challenge His divine power.
I Corithians 6: 19-20, “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have received from God? …Therefore honor God with your body.”
II Corinthians 7:1, “…let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God.
Our objection is based on our lifelong, deeply-held spiritual beliefs based on scripture.
The vaccination of our child violates laws put forth within us by a higher force at the time of conception.
Our personal religious beliefs include our obedience to God’s law, the Holy Bible, and we believe that we are responsible before God for the life and safety of our child, created by God.
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