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Federal judge rules in favor of religious exemptions for school vaccinations in Mississippi

flu shots mississippi
Photo courtesy of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs

Parents across Mississippi may soon be allowed to enroll their children in schools throughout the state without having received certain vaccinations following a recent ruling from a federal judge.

On Monday, U.S. District Judge Sul Ozerden handed down the decision requiring the state to allow religious exemptions from vaccinations in public or private schools.

The decision follows a lawsuit filed by parents against Mississippi last year, with the families expressing that their religious views prevent them from aligning with requirements set by the state.

At this time, children can receive medical exemptions for the following vaccinations:

  • Diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis
  • Polio
  • Hepatitis
  • Measles, mumps, and rubella
  • Chickenpox

Mississippi does not require children to have COVID-19 vaccinations before being enrolled in schools.

For over four decades, state lawmakers have rejected attempts to allow religious exemptions for childhood vaccinations in schools following the Mississippi Supreme Court’s decision in the 1979 case of Brown v. Stone.

At this time, other states including California, Connecticut, Maine, New York, and West Virginia do not offer immunization exemptions for religious or personal beliefs.

In addition, Ozerden ordered the Mississippi State Department of Health (MSDH) to abide by the new ruling by July 15.

MSDH Director of Communications Liz Sharlot has issued the following statement in regards to Ozerden’s recent decision:

“The Mississippi State Department of Health continues to support strong immunization laws that protect our children. Beyond that, it is our long-standing policy that the Agency does not comment on pending litigation.”

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