Mandatory Childhood Immunization Programs: Is There Still a Role for Religious and Conscience Belief Exemptions?


  • Mariette Brennan
  • Kumanan Wilson
  • Vanessa Gruben


Childhood immunizations are a vital component in controlling and stopping the spread of diseases. In recent years, we have seen an increase in anti-vaccine sentiment and, as a result, the rise of vaccine-preventable disease. We are also now living through a global pandemic in which COVID-19 vaccines are required for society to return to pre-pandemic normalcy. Childhood immunization programs are vital for public health. This article examines childhood vaccination programs and the use of exemptions in such programs. The article analyzes the constitutionality of religious and conscience belief exemptions in vaccination programs and highlights their applicability in terms of both routine childhood immunizations and in the case of COVID-19 vaccines. The article ultimately proposes ways to restructure religious and conscience belief exemptions and provides guidance on how to move childhood immunization programs forward in the COVID-19 era.