AMA Supports Tighter Limitations on Immunization Opt Outs

CHICAGO - June 8, 2015 - Addressing the re-emergence of vaccine preventable diseases in the United States requires states to move toward barring non-medical exemptions to immunization mandates, according to new policy adopted by the nation’s physicians at the American Medical Association’s annual meeting. Under new policy, the AMA will seek more stringent state immunization requirements to allow exemptions only for medical reasons.

Immunization programs in the Unites States are credited with having controlled or eliminated the spread of epidemic diseases, including smallpox, measles, mumps, rubella, diphtheria and polio. Immunization requirements vary from state to state, but only two states bar non-medical exemptions based on personal beliefs.

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When people are immunized they also help prevent the spread of disease to others, said AMA Board Member Patrice A. Harris, M.D. “As evident from the recent measles outbreak at Disneyland, protecting community health in today’s mobile society requires that policymakers not permit individuals from opting out of immunization solely as a matter of personal preference or convenience.”

New AMA policy recommends that states have in place an established decision mechanism that involves qualified public health physicians to determine which vaccines will be mandatory for admission to schools and other public venues. States should only grant exemptions to these mandated vaccines for medical reasons.

In recognition that highly transmissible diseases could pose significant medical risks for vulnerable patients and the health care workforce, new AMA policy also states that physicians and other health professionals who have direct patient care responsibilities have an obligation to accept immunization unless there is a recognized medical reason.

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he AMA also intends to support the dissemination of materials on vaccine efficacy to states as part of the effort to eliminate non-medical exemptions.

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Robert J. Mills
AMA Media & Editorial
(312) 464-5970
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About the AMA
The American Medical Association is the premier national organization dedicated to empowering the nation’s physicians to continually provide safer, higher quality, and more efficient care to patients and communities. For more than 165 years the AMA has been unwavering in its commitment to using its unique position and knowledge to shape a healthier future for America. For more information, visit ama-assn.org.

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About the American Medical Association (AMA) Since 1847 the American Medical Association has had one mission: to promote the art and science of medicine and the betterment of public health. Today, the core strategy used to carry out this mission is our concerted effort to help doctors help patients. We do this by uniting physicians nationwide to work on the most important professional and public health issues. In 2011 our strategic plan focuses on five areas that encompass the central elements in health system reform: Access to care Quality of care Cost of health care Prevention and wellness Payment models Vist the AMA's 2011 strategic plan at: http://www.ama-assn.org/ama/pub/about-ama/strategic-issues.page These topics represent the major areas of emphasis in which the AMA carries out its mission in the current environment. Our proposed actions are not only directed at solving reform issues at the policy level, but also at helping physicians adapt to—and adopt—changes in a productive way. To learn more about how the AMA is moving medicine forward, read our flyer at: http://www.ama-assn.org/resources/doc/about-ama/moving-medicine-forward.pdf.