Achieving an Optimal Childhood Vaccine Policy

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Abstract

Policies to remove parents’ ability to opt-out from school immunization requirements on the basis of religious or personal beliefs (ie, nonmedical exemptions) may be a useful strategy to increase immunization rates and prevent outbreaks of vaccine-preventable disease. However, there is uncertainty about the effectiveness of this strategy and the range of possible outcomes. We advocate for a more deliberative process through which a broad range of outcomes is scrutinized and the balance of values underlying the policy decision to eliminate nonmedical exemptions is clearly articulated. We identify 3 outcomes that require particular consideration before policies to eliminate nonmedical exemptions are implemented widely and outline a process for making the values underlying such policies more explicit.

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