FAQ About Religious exemptions for Students

August 27, 2021 Tara Eveland 5 min read

Over the last month my email has been exploding with questions so here is my first FAQ about Religious Exemptions for Students, I hope it helps someone out there. If you need examples of other’s Religious exemption to vaccine letters, check out this ongoing series of reader submitted exemptions for inspiration.

FAQs about Religious Exemptions for Students

Does one religious exemption cover all of my children/family?

Maybe, maybe not. If all of your kids go to the same school or say, the same district, then yes, one waiver should cover all your kids. To cover your bases, indicate on your letter that you request that this waiver cover all your children and name each of them. 

However, if you have several children going to different schools with different Boards, then you could receive a denial in one and an approval in another. Be sure to research your state and local laws, they all vary.

I am enrolling my child in a daycare. Do they have the same laws as public schools?

This varies in each state. Please check your state law first.

Some states I have lived in the daycares are considered private schools, in others they are independent businesses and not schools at all. Private schools and daycares that do not receive government funding, including religious institutions, do not have to accept non-medical exemptions to vaccines.

The exemption rules around daycares can also vary based on religion. For instance, Catholic and Hebrew schools often think they are the ultimate authority on all things religious. Some Catholic schools do not accept exemptions based on religion, even for vaccines that were developed using fetal cell lines. 

The policy of the specific school is often set by the local Diocese. As an official matter, the Vatican has ruled that use of aborted fetal cell lines in vaccines is not a basis for a church-based policy requiring use of a religious waiver to vaccination.

To whom do I submit my child’s religious exemption letter for school?

Please check your local law on this. The states tend to make the laws, but the school board and school district are the ones overseeing the actual letters. Some will have you take it to whoever you want at the school, other states, New York for instance, has a “Commissioner of Education Guidelines” that  recommends each building Principal handle applications for vaccine exemptions. But, schools can designate the responsibility to anyone they wish. Start with the lowest level of ‘authority’ school employees (like the secretary and/or nurse if you don’t want the secretary knowing you have it) and go up from there. 

Some school districts want the letters submitted directly to the school board, especially after the 2020 school year. Again, check your emails for back to school info and reach out to your individual school if you need extra guidance.

When do I need to turn in my vaccine exemption to the school?

Give the school the forms or letters you have written when they ask for it. If you are registering your child for school the first time you can likely go ahead and hand in all the paperwork with the exception of the vaccine records. This may have changed since the 2020 school year so make sure you open emails and stay on top of dates to turn in paperwork. The school will let you know if and when these are needed for their records. When asked you can simply tell them you are filing a religious vaccine exemption for your child and turn in the forms at this time. Keep all correspondence the school sends you in a separate email folder/label for easy access in the future.

Do both parents have to share the same religious beliefs for my child to get a vaccine exemption?

Only one parent has to have a genuine and sincere belief that is contrary to immunization. It helps if both of you agree and are able to present a united front. But it is not legally necessary in any state as of Aug. 2021. This guidance can vary however depending on your unique legal situation regarding custody and family law.

Can I get an exemption if I was/ have vaccinated in the past?

Yes, new thoughts and ideas happen to us daily, and over time humans oven change their believes or add to what they know to be true. Sometimes a life experience causes us humans to rethink a religious perspective. Sometimes we “know better, do better”… AKA, learn new information, such as a parent may learn of the components in the vaccines after their child has a negative reaction to one.

Even though they had agreed to and taken the vaccines prior to knowing this information, based on the findings they had a change of heart and adopted a new stance to align with their religious believes. This is totally acceptable. This is totally normal.

I would like to selectively vaccinate my child. Do I need an exemption?

If you want to selectively vaccinate your children, I support your decision 100%. However, I cannot help you because I give guidance for genuine religious exemptions to vaccines. I do not believe you can research and hold a sincere religious belief against some, but not all vaccines, therefore, my advice is not for you.

What if my religious exemption to vaccines is denied by the school?

I am not a lawyer nor do I have experience in this area nor can I advise you beyond How to write a religious exemption letter; at this point you would want to reach out elsewhere for legal advice.

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Where to start researching religious exemption laws by state

To obtain a vaccine exemption for your child to attend school, or for yourself as an adult (if applicable), you must follow the regulations outlined in your state’s vaccine law. These laws vary from state to state. NVIC’s State Law & Vaccine Requirements webpages are the most up-to-date resource I know of for each state’s vaccine requirements and exemption information.

Start your individual state exemption research here: https://www.nvic.org/Vaccine-Laws/state-vaccine-requirements.aspx

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Tara Eveland

Free thinker, freedom fighter, fierce mama bear and daughter of the King.

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