Hi all -
We're claiming religious exemption from vax for preschool for the fall, and we want to "have all our ducks in a row". We have the official form for the state of MD for signing religious exemption, and we would like to have on-hand a printout of the official MD law/regulation stating that religious exemption must be permitted, in case we are questioned about this. I have searched online and found several links from "pro-vax- choice" organizations, but I would really like a link for the official regulations. Does anyone have a link they can share? I thought this would be easier to find online than it has turned out to be!
Also if anyone has been through this process recently, particularly for a private (pre)school, and can provide reassurance, I would love to start sleeping at night again! This is really stressing me out! (Are private schools *required* to accept religious exemptions? I've read mixed answers to this question online.)
Annotated Code of Maryland: Heath General (ghg) Title18-403 outlines the general law re: vaccinations. Guidance to childcare providers is provided by COMAR 13A.15.03.02 and 13A.16.03.02. Guidance to schools is provided by COMAR 10.06.04.05. You can look up the complete COMAR documents on the state website. Excerpts can be found here: http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&source=web&cd=5&sqi=2&ved=0CDMQFjAE&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.exemptmychild.com%2Fmedia%2F%2FDIR_27501%2FMaryland%2420Vaccine%2420Exemption%2420Laws.pdf&rct=j&q=maryland%20vaccine%20exemption&ei=4wMBTr3rJZORgQeK2_HxDQ&usg=AFQjCNHeJNIvwh58GTadeJXaJSDDU3RC7g&cad=rja
Although the family daycare regulations (COMAR 13A.15) do not explicitly allow for religious exemptions, I have called the licensing board and they confirmed that religious exemptions are permitted for home (family) daycares as well as child care centers.
In answer to your question about private preschools, I believe that although accepting non-vaccinated students is technically at discretion of the private school, the school could be sued for discrimination for refusing to accept a religious exemption. It would depend on how vehemently the school wanted to fight. I would make sure your preschool has a non-discrimination policy in place as that will help your case. Most private preschools do not have a problem accepting non-vaxxed students once you point out that their license is not at risk.
See "Maryland Immunization Certification Form (DHMH 896 - February 2011)" for the form and "Click here to view the COMAR Preschool & School Regulations" for the law, here: http://ideha.dhmh.maryland.gov/IMMUN/back-to-school-immunization-requirements.aspx
The form is quite explicit in allowing the religious exemption. There is no basis for anyone to question your claiming the religious exemption. Just smile and hand in your form.
(FYI you can also submit titers in lieu of some vaxs, which we have done. Our school had not seen anyone do that before, but again, it is right on the form. No problem.)
As far as I understand, private schools are NOT required to accept religious exemptions. They can choose not to admit any unvaxed kids. I read the info at the link posted, and it just said private schools had to report a list of medical and religious exemptions, it didn't say they had to accept religious ones in the first place.
Thanks to all who responded. And thanks for the link to the official regulations - that's good to have on hand. So, has anyone had success with local private preschools? It sounds the regs are being interpreted that private (pre)schools have the option to allow religious exemption but aren't required to do so...anyone?
no experience with preschools, but our public and private schools and camps have all taken the exemption, no questions asked. some may object, but i wouldn't stress out about it. i'm sure they've seen it before.
Maryland moves to Eliminate Religious Exemption for Vax