How To Get A Vaccine Religious Exemption

Contrary to popular belief (some schools will even be dishonest with you until you remind them of the law) your children DO NOT have to be immunized to attend school. Almost every state in the US offers at least two types of exemptions: medical and religious. The only 3 exceptions are California, Mississippi, and West Virginia, which only offer medical exemptions.

Some of us, however, may be unsure exactly how to go about getting this religious exemption. The following link will walk you through everything you’ll need to know in order to obtain your religious exemption. Included in the article below is:

  1. A link to your state’s exemption laws.
  2. Detailed information that you will need to include in the letter you will write to obtain religious exemption as well as information NOT to include in your letter, complete with CDC and other government sources to cite as well as the applicable Bible verses that will also need to be cited.
  3. Short, succinct responses to any questions you may be asked to defend your position (if you are required to do so by your child’s school).

Since I have just gone through this process, I’ll add some extra information for those of you who will be obtaining your religious exemption in the state of Alabama. In Alabama, our right to a religious exemption is protected under Alabama Code Title 16. Education 16-30-3.

The first step is to contact your local health department and schedule an appointment to come in and sign the paperwork to obtain a religious exemption. Here is a link with the contact numbers of the health department in each county in Alabama:

Click on the link, select your county, then click on the “contact us” link to get a phone number.

My appointment was scheduled with the Marshall County Health Department. At this appointment, I was required to watch a video from the Alabama Department of Public Health to inform me of the “risks and benefits of vaccination” and to “discuss the risks of not having my child immunized.”

Be forewarned: this video is nothing short of propaganda and filled with misleading statements, incomplete information (I’ll just call them what they are- “lies of omission”), as well as outright incorrect information. So, do your research BEFORE you go so that you won’t be thrown off by false claims.
If you need to brush up on the basics, you can check out my post, “6 Things You Need to Know When Deciding Whether or Not to Vaccinate.”
Also, in the video, the term “herd immunity” is used as if this concept is fact. If you are unfamiliar with this, you can check out my article, “Do High Rates of Vaccination Make Us Safe? Let’s Talk About Herd Immunity.”

After the video, you’ll sign some forms, then you’ll be given your exemption certificate to give to your child’s school, daycare, etc. You’ll need one for each child.

*Note* While I was not required to submit a “letter” detailing how vaccinations conflict with my religious beliefs, there was a section on the form where I had to document that information. I highly encourage you to include a shortened version of the information that is presented in the Living Whole blog post above, complete with cited Bible verses. Some states are in the process of making it more difficult to obtain a religious exemption, so you might as well have your bases covered. I actually went ahead and wrote a letter that they attached with the forms I filled out so that a more complete explanation would be on file.

Now go get those exemptions!!


102 Replies to “How To Get A Vaccine Religious Exemption”

    1. Aen, I definitely wouldn’t let them get away with that if I were you. In my experience, it often helps to become the “squeaky wheel,” so to speak. Keep calling, or even go for a personal visit to get it worked out. Sometimes it can be a matter of simply finding the right person, or requesting to speak to someone’s superior.

  1. Hi, do you know if a person is out of state and wants to go to an Alabama university that requires certain vaccinations what they are supposed to do about obtaining religious exemption? Thank you

    1. Hi Dana!

      It is my understanding that colleges and universities may have different rules applicable to students. The National Vaccine Information Center website notes in their “Higher Education” category the following: “Higher Ed Vaccination Requirements & Exemption Information – Request college/university of choice for their Proof of Immunization Compliance, as each institution may use its own form.” So, it sounds like you may have to request your institution’s specific policy.

      Hope that helps!

  2. I want to make the appointment with my county health department. What did you tell them when they asked why you wanted an appointment. Did you tell them over the phone or wait until you were in the office? Did you make the appointment with the vaccine clinic?

    1. Hi Susan!

      When I called the county health dept (in my case Marshall County Alabama) I told them I wanted to schedule an appointment to get a religious exemption from vaccination for all 3 of my kids. They had no negative response whatsoever. When I arrived, I was required to watch a short propaganda video which contained more than a little erroneous information, clearly designed to cause me to question my decision. However, the personnel at the health department made no negative comments to me at all and were extremely friendly. I filled out the paperwork, received my exemption, and was on my way in a relatively short amount of time.

      1. Thats Great. My Daughter Will Be Here In About 40 Days and Ive Been Reading Non-Stop On How To Do This. Yall Have helped Me Alot

  3. I didn’t want my children vaccinated and I was told I had to have a letter from my minister for religious exemption. Parental choice isn’t an option. I can’t freely choose based in my personal research in Alabama. It has to be religious or medical recommendation only. Why can’t parents choose? When will we be able to make our own decisions regarding our children? Where is the line that says government control stops here?

    1. I completely agree Joan. Religious exemption should not be our only option here in Alabama. Unfortunately it is. The number of states that continue to offer a personal or philosophical exemption option is dwindling, and frankly the religious exemption is in danger of disappearing as well.

      Honestly, however, I truly believe framing the argument in terms of parental rights to accept or deny medical care is not the way to go. I know this is the tack that libertarians such as Ron Paul take, but I believe if we go this route we will lose. I say this because refusal to vaccinate a child is being compared to abuse of the child. In other words, choosing not to vaccinate the child is going to be made analogous with choosing not to feed the child or provide basic needs. If we allow them to establish this false premise, then parental rights over medical decisions will not apply.

      All that said, it NOT legal for them to require you to have a letter from a minister. You don’t even have to tell them what church or denomination you are associated with (if any at all). I just called the Alabama Dept of Public Health located in Montgomery to confirm this. I spoke with Shirley Calloway, an Administrative Assistant. She can be reached directly at 334-206-5023. If I were you, I would inform your local health department that it is illegal for them to require than information from you, and I would refer them to Ms. Calloway at headquarters. I told her that a local health dept was requiring this from you and she confirmed to me that you could refer them to her if they persist.

    1. Samantha,

      Yes, unfortunately it is legal for a doctor to refuse unvaccinated patients even if they have an exemption. I even know parents who have been “fired” from pediatricians they had been with for ages for only wanting to opt out of some vaccines. There is a really great group for Alabamians on Facebook called the Alabama Coalition for Vaccine Rights that you might find helpful :

      1. I’m just now finding this page! It’s so crazy I didn’t know that you had this blog 💚. For anyone that doesn’t know, I’m an admin for ACVR and we have had to set up our vetting process for pending members, so that’s why the delay in approval. Also, per the ADPH policy guidelines, you do NOT have to watch the video or sign their form.

        1. Glad you found my blog Helen! I suggest ACVR all the time to people who send me email questions 🙂

        2. Hello, I know this is an older thread but I sent a request to join your group. We’re moving from SC to AL and need all the info we can get on this topic. Are you still the admins for the group? Thank you!!

          1. Hey A L!
            I’m actually not affiliated with the group other than just being a member. Have you gotten approved yet? If not, I can try to message an admin and see if there is some kind of issue getting you approved.

  4. That is absolutely crazy. But at the same time I would probably question the doctor on everything if they had to let me be there but didn’t want me there. Thank you for the help, now I just have to get added to the group. I sent in my request 2 weeks ago and is still pending. Hopefully soon! Lol

    1. That’s exactly the way I see it. If we are so far apart on the vaccine issue, I wouldn’t trust their decisions anyway. That stinks that you’ve been waiting for 2 weeks! I just looked at the group and it gives me an option of inviting members. If you want, you can comment back what your FB name is and I’ll see if I can find you and invite you to the group myself. I won’t approve your comment, I’ll delete it after I see it so it won’t go up publicly here in the comments.

    2. Samantha,

      It wouldn’t let me pull up your FB account by name on the invite tab (probably because we aren’t friends), but it did let me send you an invite to your email. I used the email that shows up on your comments. Maybe this will work! If not, let me know and I’ll just post a question to the group asking if you can get a quick approval. 🙂

  5. We are having a hard time finding a pediatrician who accepts new patients on a delayed vaccine schedule in the Shoals (Northwest Alabama) area. Any suggestions or resources?

  6. Hello, can you also send me an email? I just moved to Fort Morgan, AL and my child will start preschool in August if I can get the ball rolling on the whole religious/medical exemption. I would like to pick your brain about pediatricians as well

  7. I’m so happy I found your post. I’ve been having a really hard time trying to find a pediatrician as well. I am going to contact the Madison Co health department so I can get the religious exemption, but would you be willing to give me some more information regarding the exemption as well as a doctor in the area for my 2 month old?

    1. Same here please. I spoke to my child’s pediatrician about religious exceptions and was told frankly that we would need to find another pediatrician. Unfortunately, I have no clue where to start

  8. Hi, I’m in Madison County AL as well, looking for a pediatrician for my 10mo. I don’t use Facebook. Could you please email me the info as well? I have a feeling we are going to get kicked by our current pediatrician soon lol. PS really glad I came across your site!

      1. Could you email this info to me as well!!?? I’m currently in a situation where I’m looking for a new pediatrician bc we are expecting our second child and do not want vaccinations as I believe the vaccinations have had a negative impact on my 1st child’s health. And our current pediatrician is strict on following guidelines.

          1. Hello!! We just moved to Autauga county (Prattville) and are looking for non-v friendly Drs….do you have any info that would help us in our search?? Thank you!!

        1. So glad I found this blog! Can you send me the same email. I’m in Montgomery, AL and my child will be starting school in August.

          1. Can you email me again regarding doctors. I tried joining the group but still have not been accepted to it. Thanks.

  9. My appointment with the health department is t until August 19th. My son’s school is telling me he cannot come to school or even be officially enrolled until I have that paper in hand, which puts me in a position of my child missing 10 days of school or being strong-armed into getting the vaccinations. Are there no other options? I can’t help the county health department’s schedule.

    1. Hi Theresa! I’m glad I check my FB messages more often than my blog messages. Lol! Glad everything worked out 🙂

  10. I live in Shelby county Alabama, and I’m looking for a pediatrician and a preschool situation I can send my children too .. I also need to get a religious exemption.. please help

      1. Hello! So glad I found this page. I am also in Shelby County and need information on religious exemption, pediatricians, preschool ect.

      2. Hello! I just moved to Shelby Co as well and want to find a pediatrician as well that is okay with having a religious exemption. Can you send me an email as well?

  11. Hello I’m glad to find this post. I’m looking to start this process as well. Although my kids are current I don’t want them to have any more vaccines. So I’ve heard that doctors may refuse to see the children mainly because insurance will not pay and possibly because of any future lawsuits but if anyone have any doctors in the Montgomery or Prattville Al area that will see children can you please forward me their information

  12. Thank you so much for this article!!! I was stressing worried about getting the exemption and how to approach it. We’ve never vaccinated our son but are open to possibly an extremely limited alternative vaccine schedule, we will see, but for now we feel peace about no vaccines and he’s 2 1/2 years. I read and reread your article and the one from living whole so I would be ready and got the exemption today.. they were very kind and supportive actually! I was surprised it was such a smooth process! I live in Birmingham, AL and had two question for you since you’re also in Alabama.. 1. Do you know of any doctors within a 1 hour proximity that will see a child without vaccines? 2. Since we have the religious exemption now, what happens if we decide in a year or two to possibly get a few selected vaccines that we feel more okay about? Is it like an all or nothing thing? Either no vaccines with the religious exemption or if you do one shot after that point, the exemption is void and you suddenly have to get 27+ shots?

    1. Hi Caroline!

      So glad you benefited from this article!

      I sent you a message to answer your second question. To answer your first, no. Religious exemptions are not all or nothing. If you get a religious exemption, you are still free to selectively vaccinate 🙂

  13. Hey there! I’m about to make an appointment to get my son a religious exemption. I guess I’m a little worried about what to put in my letter. Also my pediatrician of 9 years( I have two older children) turned him away at his one year checkup bc I refused to vaccinate so now we need a doctor. Do you know any in the Shelby county area?

  14. I’m in Madison County in the city of Huntsville. Will you email a list of doctors. I turned down shots today due to discrepancies between Ga and Alabama. We just moved from Ga, when my son started school all shots were be up to date. We moved to Alabama less than a month later and they claim shots are due. Needless to say I was already curious about the religious exemption and his old immunizations causing his food and contact allergies. Today just pushed it over edge and religious exemption it is later this week.

  15. Hi! We are new to Shelby county and I would love a list of pediatricians if you don’t mind! I also sent you a message about getting a religious exemption as a healthcare worker in Alabama if you have any info about that. Just wanted to make sure you got it! Thanks!!

  16. I just moved to Colbert County, Alabama last week from Georgia. I have a 5 year old that starts kindergarten next year and I’m trying to get my letter of religious exemption prepared along with anything else I need to do before its time to register him. Are there any statements they require you to include in the letter in order for them to accept it? I’m so lost. Any info you can provide would be greatly appreciated. Thanks so much.

    1. Welcome to Alabama Alicia!

      When I got our religious exemption in Marshall County they did not require any statements other than just the fact that I was abstaining due to religious reasons. I did, however, write up a little extra statement of my own which included a few points about why I object to vaccination on religious grounds. I used info from the Living Whole blog post which I linked in this post. Just remember- less is more! And, be sure and keep your objections completely within the realm of the religious. Don’t wander into the realm of the philosophical.

      As far as registering your child for school- all they should need is the religious exemption. I’ve never been asked a single question from the school. Just to be prepared though, I’d be sure to carefully read the suggestions from the Living Whole blog for the scenario in which a school does ask questions. Always best to be ready just in case a surprise gets thrown at you 🙂

  17. My pediatrician just told me today that he can’t see my son any longer bc he’s not vaccinated, can you please send me an email as well? I’ll be looking for a new pediatrician soon 😩

  18. Looking too relocate to Birmingham, AL due to husbands job. Trying to find a vaccine friendly doc in the area, if we can’t find one might have to reconsider moving. Do you happen to know any? Thank you!

  19. Hello! We are considering a move to Birmingham from Oregon. Do you feel like there are good integrative doctors/naturopaths in Birmingham? Both of my children are vaccine injured (ages 2&4) so we will be seeking the religious exemption. We are looking at the Vestavia/Hoover area. Thank you!

  20. Sorry one more question! Do healthcare workers in Alabama have receive vaccinations as well?! Is the religious exemption accepted for those as well? Thank you!

    1. I think that’s kind of a mixed bag too, but I don’t work in healthcare and am not 100% sure. It seems to me to depend on what health care facility one works at. Some do require certain vaccinations and they do not have to accept a religious exemption. For example, even though the flu vaccine is not a required vaccine on the Alabama schedule, some hospitals may be able to require their employees to have it.

  21. Hello!
    First, thank you for this blog it has been sooo helpful! I recently moved here(Huntsville/Cullman area) and am due in June. I am also looking for any pediatricians in the area that are open to vaccine free children! Any help would be greatly appreciated.
    Thank you!!

  22. HI there!!! I’m very grateful to have found this page. My family and I are moving to the Huntsville area from Atlanta. The exemption was very easy to get for Georgia. It seems like it might take a little more legwork for AL. No big deal though. I am looking for some Pediatrician options in the Hunstville, Harvest area of Alabama that accept non vaccinated kids. LEt me know if you have any information on this. Also i was completely unable to locate the ACVR page on Facebook. Could you let me know if they still exists or have moved to another location? Thanks so much!

      1. I live in Birmingham and have a 2year old son with medical illnesses that see various specialists. I am looking into obtaining a religious exemption for vaccines. I have several questions. Can medical specialists deny care for him if he has religious exemption? Is the medical exemption valid for all licensed daycares in Alabama? Is there a pediatrician in Birmingham that will care for a child with a religious exemption? Your help would be greatly appreciated

        1. Hi Monique!

          I’m honestly not sure what legal rights specialists have to deny care. I actually have a friend that messaged me just yesterday that has had multiple pediatricians refuse to see her daughter due to the fact that she is not up to date with vaccinations. It’s incredibly frustrating. Now, if you took your child to the ER, I don’t believe they can refuse care. But, that’s not very helpful when you just want to take your child to the doctor non-emergently.

          It is my understanding that any school or daycare facility that accepts state funding in any way must, by law, accept the religious exemption. Regarding your question about doctors in the Birmingham area, I’ll send you an email shortly 🙂

  23. This site is a Godsend, as this subject is something that has given me so much stress. Thank you so much for providing the research and guidance to help us make informed decisions. I know that I am like the 80th person that has asked this, but could you send me any inside info concerning pediatricians or alternate doctors. I live outside of Birmingham (Vestavia Hills, Jefferson County) and would be willing to drive an hour to find some care for my 1 and a half year old son. The 3 pediatricians that have visited have turned us down when questioning vaccines, or even delayed schedules. Lastly, I live closer to the Shelby County health department vs Jefferson Co. Can you apply for the religious exemption at any health dept or only in the county which you reside?

  24. Can you please give me some advice on how to prepare an exemption letter in Bibb Co AL. My children have been in the same school now for a couple of years and I’ve never had to show records, thankfully. No, they’re requesting.

    1. Hi!

      I would suggest that you just give your nearest health department a call and ask to make an appointment to get a religious exemption for your children. It’s usually a very simple process, and you leave that day with a certificate for each child. You can then submit a copy of the certificate to the school your children attend. 🙂

  25. Hi,
    Can you please send me any information on a pediatrician in the Birmingham/Hoover area that is willing to see children who are no longer receiving vaccinations? Thanks!

  26. Hi! I am currently a nursing student. They will soon mandate the Covid vaccine for me. By Law, do they have to accept a religious exemption form? I’m also breastfeeding my infant.

    1. Hi Elizabeth!

      When it comes to careers in health care, I’m honestly not sure what they can require you to do by law. From what I can tell, employers in other industries are generally required to honor religious exemptions. I have no idea why the healthcare industry would be any different. But according to what my nurse friends tell me about their personal experiences, their employers are very successful in mandating vaccines. I don’t know that there is a firm “yes” or “no” answer to this legal question, and it’s probably going to have to be played out in the courtroom to see where the chips fall.

      However, these Covid vaccines are a different story, at least for now, because they are being given under Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) and have not been through the process for full FDA approval. This Harvard Law article says that, historically, the FDA and CDC have said that products under an EUA cannot be mandated:

      If I were you, I would mention to them that you are not comfortable getting this vaccine since there is no safety data for breastfeeding mothers. Below is the information that healthcare providers in the US get for the Pfizer vaccine. Section 11.2 states that, “Data are not available to assess the effects of Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine on the breastfed infant or on milk production/excretion”

      Below is the information that US healthcare providers get for the Moderna vaccine. The section on pregnancy and lactation reads, “Available data on Moderna COVID‑19 Vaccine administered to pregnant women are insufficient to inform vaccine-associated risks in pregnancy. Data are not available to assess the effects of Moderna COVID‑19 Vaccine on the breastfed infant or on milk production/excretion.”

      This Covid 19 vaccine guidance published by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) may also be helpful:

      ACOG supports pregnant and lactating women being able to receive Covid vaccines. However, they also state:

      “Vaccines currently available under EUA have not been tested in pregnant women. Therefore, there are no safety data specific to use in pregnancy. See details about the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) EUA process below.”

      “Pregnant patients who decline vaccination should be supported in their decision.”

      “…there are no safety data specific to mRNA vaccine use in pregnant or lactating individuals and the potential risks to a pregnant individual and the fetus are unknown.”

      Of course, true to form, ACOG speaks out of both sides of their mouth. This sentence is also in the document:

      “Theoretical concerns regarding the safety of vaccinating lactating individuals do not outweigh the potential benefits of receiving the vaccine.”

      Personally, I would point out that no one could possibly know if this is statement is true since there is absolutely no safety data for lactating individuals.

      There has been at least one VAERS report from a lactating mother that, after the receipt of the vaccine, her nursing child experienced a full body rash. This same full body rash has been described in some of the individuals who have experienced an anaphylactic response. I don’t have the link to that VAERS report handy. A search of the VAERS database should turn it up, but would probably take a lot of reading to locate it.

      A friend of mine mentioned to me the other day that those who are pregnant or breastfeeding and being pressured by nursing school administration to get the covid vaccine may be covered under Title IX. I have no idea if that would hold water, but it would be worth a mention as well. Here’s a Harvard Law article explaining Title IX:

      Best of luck to you Elizabeth!

  27. Hello, I live in the Shelby County area and would like more info on pediatricians that accept non-vaccinated children.

  28. Hi! I have 2 request, the first being to ask, like most others, for a list of any non-v friendly pediatricians in my area (auburn/Lee county).
    Second, how do I as an adult, get a medical or religious exemption since my employer has currently requested one from me? THANK YOU!

    1. Hi Jasmine!

      Regarding the pediatrician question, I sent you an email 🙂

      On the second question, it’s very interesting that your employer has asked for a religious or medical exemption since there is no adult religious (or medical that I’m aware of) that an employer is required to honor. This is something that those in the health care industry particularly struggle with. Medical exemptions must be obtained from a doctor. Religious exemptions are obtained from your local health department. Usually, they are issued for children. But, since your employer has requested one, I imagine you can just call your health dept and make an appointment to have them issue you one.

      Best of luck to you!

  29. Hi there Jasmine. Another option might be to comb through your medical history and find an “underlying condition” to keep you from having to take it. A confidant of mine is working on developing a service for this, as she is a physician. Hope this helps a little.

  30. I just moved to Huntsville from Michigan where I had no problem getting a waiver. My daughter is vaccine injured from the mmr but her doctor refused to write me a note. I’m not sure what to put in a letter for a religious exemption or what doctor to take her to, she is 9.

    1. Hi Rachel!

      Welcome to Alabama!

      You don’t need a letter or a doctor to get a religious exemption from vaccination. Just make an appointment at your local health department to fill out the paperwork and they will issue your religious exemption that day. Finding a primary care doctor that will accept unvaccinated or partially vaccinated patients is a whole different can of worms. I’ll send you an email regarding the latter issue.

Leave a Reply