There are plenty of conspiracy theories that can become believable if you stay on the internet long enough, but vaccinations causing autism isn’t one of them.
The Center for Disease Control confirmed that there have been over 1,200 cases of measles in 31 different states since the beginning of the year. Last week alone, there were six cases of mumps at High Point and Elon University. This illness is completely preventable with the MMR vaccine, which is required across the state at all public institutions. Well, that is of course, if you don’t have a government-approved exemption.
There are only two ways to bypass vaccination requirements in North Carolina, the first being a certified medical exemption from a licensed physician. This exemption is usually only offered when an immunization could potentially be detrimental to an individual’s health and is reserved for immunosuppressed individuals who adhere to other preventative measures. The other way to get out of the vaccination stipulations, and the one that is used regularly by anti-vaccination families, is exemption by religious belief.
Under current North Carolina law, a parent can simply prepare a statement that includes their religious beliefs, why those beliefs prevent their child from completing the immunization requirements and who they are requesting exemptions for. And just like that, upon submission of the statement, the child may attend a university, school, facility or program without presentation of an official immunization record. The kicker? These statements do not need to be notarized, signed by religious leaders, prepared by an attorney or even submitted to the state for approval.
This isn’t just a North Carolina problem either; 44 other states allow vaccination exemptions based on religious or "personal" beliefs. According to the Center for Disease Control, 2017-2018 is the third consecutive year that the MMR vaccination rate has dropped, and the number of children with exemptions for vaccine requirements has increased.