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Episode Info: uch that I do every day for children that saves lives. Immunizations are something that I do every day that I know makes a huge difference. LISA STARK: Rinehart and other doctors helped push the state to tighten Vermont’s vaccine laws. So did Hockett, with Mia in tow. In 2015, lawmakers eliminated the state’s philosophical exemption. Parents can still opt out for religious or medical reasons. Partly because of the change in law, Brewer Louis is homeschooling her 8-year-old. But she is relying on the religious exemption to send another daughter to preschool. What is your religious objections to vaccines? ARIEL BREWER LOUIS: I don’t have a religious objection to vaccines, but that’s my only option. And the way I see it, I have done my research, and there’s no way I am going to vaccinate my children to send them to school. LISA STARK: What do you say to people who say to you, I should have the right not to vaccinate my child? MIA HOCKETT: I absolutely agree with that, but none of this legislation actually forces someone to get immunized. What is says is that, if you’re opting out of your right and responsibility to vaccine, then you also have to bear the burden of opting out of the benefits of organized education. LISA STARK: Here in Vermont, parents have at most six months from the start of school to either make sure their child has all the required vaccinations or to claim an exemption. If they don’t, that child is no longer welcome at school. School nurse Pruitt says no student has been excluded from her school yet, but some have come close. She believes the new law has had an impact. NANCY PRUITT: So we had a 2.3 percent increase on our student body being fully vaccinated. LISA STARK: And do you think that’s because of the change in the law? NANCY PRUITT: I do. LISA STARK: As for Hockett, she’s focused on a return to normalcy. Merin is considered cured of leukemia, and, in August, was deemed healthy enough to resume her vaccines. So, this school year, Merin’s parents hope she can count on her own immunity, not just others, to stay healthy. For the PBS NewsHour and Education Week, I’m Lisa Stark in Burlington, Vermont. The post Vermont’s rules on vaccines for school met with parents’ support and pushback appeared first on PBS NewsHour. ......
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