Restoring Some Vaccination Choice in Mississippi

by | Apr 18, 2023


Like every American state government, the Mississippi government pressures parents to ensure their children take a slew of vaccination shots as a condition for the children to attend school. But, unlike most states, Mississippi law does not recognize the right of parents to refuse, based upon philosophical or religious objections, to follow the state-imposed childhood vaccination schedule.

Instead, the only exemption Mississippi parents have had available is a medical exemption that has turned out for almost all parents to be the same as having no exemption at all. I wrote about this in an April of 2015 article:

The New York Times  reported in February how extremely restricting vaccination mandate exemptions causes a significant increase in vaccination rates, pointing to Mississippi as an example. Mississippi has among the strictest vaccination requirements in America — barring philosophical and religious exemptions and allowing only a medical exemption for students in both public and private schools. In the 2013-14 school year the Times reports that only 17 out of 45,179 kindergarten students in the state were exempt from the state’s vaccination mandate.

The medical exemption could more accurately be called the mirage exemption. In contrast, philosophical and religious exemptions can allow much greater ability for parents to refuse government pressure to have their children subjected to each and every state-mandated shot at each and every state-mandated time in a child’s life.

Since I wrote that article in 2015, California and New York, two of the largest population states, have joined Mississippi by eliminating all exemptions other than the medical exemption. Three additional states — Connecticut, Maine, and West Virginia — also recognize only the medical exemption.

Some good news came for Mississippi parents this week. The Informed Consent Action Network (ICAN) has announced that on Monday a federal court “ruled that the First Amendment requires that, by July 15, 2023, the State of Mississippi afford its residents a religious exemption for their children to attend school without one or more state mandated vaccines.” ICAN, which has supported the lawsuit that led to the court’s ruling, provides more information in a legal update at its website.

Hopefully, religious and philosophical exemptions, in addition to medical exemptions, will soon be exercisable by parents in all states.


  • Adam Dick

    Adam worked from 2003 through 2013 as a legislative aide for Rep. Ron Paul. Previously, he was a member of the Wisconsin State Board of Elections, a co-manager of Ed Thompson's 2002 Wisconsin governor campaign, and a lawyer in New York and Connecticut.

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