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).

How To Get a Vaccine Religious Exemption

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:

http://www.alabamapublichealth.gov/about/health-departments.html

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!!

 

44 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
        Thanks

  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 : https://www.facebook.com/groups/AlabamaCoalitionVF/

      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.

  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?

  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!

  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

  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?
    Thanks!

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