I wrote this letter to a parent in early September of 2010, to explain the religious and medical exemptions for Wyoming children. During the summer of 2010, the Wyoming Department of Health changed its Rules and Regulations regarding vaccination for children. If you would like detailed information about these changes, please let me know. With a few minor changes, this is the letter I sent to the parent.

September 9, 2010

Wyoming state law recognizes medical and religious exemptions from vaccinations for children. In March 2001, Susan LePage won her Wyoming Supreme Court case in which she wanted to exempt her child when the Wyoming Department of Health was refusing to let her have the religious exemption.  The law says they must grant the request, but for several years prior to 2001, they had been weighing the evidence and making the decision as to whether or not a person really had a sincere religious objection to vaccines.  Since that 2001 WY Supreme Court decision, though, the health department can't make such a decision.  If a person asks for it by filling out the form, and having it notarized, the state health department must grant it.

Most people with whom I have discussed vaccination believe in God and want to please Him. Such people feel that He objects to our putting harmful products into our children's bodies.  It is easily a religious issue, in the opinion of many people.

If you decide to not comply with the state health department’s vaccine requirements, you have one month in which to start the exemption process. I wouldn’t wait until the last minute, though, but would get it started right away, if that is what you choose to do. I believe that the month begins when they send you the letter telling you about the vaccine requirements for your child.

If you do want to have your child vaccinated, you have one month to start the process of getting him or her vaccinated. They don’t expect you to get your child all caught up in one month. You just have to show you are starting the process.

To get the religious exemption form, ask your public health nurse's office for the form.  Doctor's offices and school offices may have it, also, but may not.  It is a two page (one of the two pages is a carbon copy) form that you fill out and have your signature notarized.  In the blank where it says to list the immunizations from which you want exempted, you can put the words "all of them" if that is what you want.  Remember, there are going to always be more vaccines recommended and mandated in the future.

Some people want their children to receive some vaccines and not others. You cannot shift back and forth, saying yes to some and no to others, when you get a religious exemption.

Of course, I can think of two instances in which a parent might say yes to certain vaccines but no to others. The parent might object only to those vaccines that are made from cells derived from fetal tissue that came from an aborted baby. Only some vaccines are derived from such cells. The web site I recommend for further information about that is http://www.cogforlife.org/. Another instance in which a person might feel it is against his or her religion to have a child vaccinated is that of the rotavirus vaccines which have been found to contain DNA fragments from pig viruses.

Now, I will tell you what you do with the notarized religious exemption form. Return both pages, which are connected and later separated, to the same public health office from which you received it, for them to pass on to the Wyoming Department of Health, or you mail it yourself to the WY Department of Health, whose address is on the form. After the WDH gets it in the mail, they sign it, separate the two pages, and mail the parent copy to you.

Wyoming doesn't have a philosophical exemption.  If you do not believe in God, or a higher power, and don't honestly feel it is against what He wants for your children, then you could try for the medical exemption.  If that is what you choose to do, you need to find a doctor who agrees with you.  He or she would have to fill out the medical exemption form.

When the state health department returns the form to you after it has been signed by them, they say that if there is an outbreak of a particular disease that your child hasn’t been vaccinated against, your child is excluded from school during the outbreak.

Let me know, please, if you have more questions.  Call me if you'd like, at 307-751-8505 or e-mail me at spearce@vcn.com.

If you would like to receive e-mail messages about health and vaccination, let me know and I'll put you on my list.

We have an extensive lending library available from which you can borrow information on such subjects as how to help your child through a vaccine-preventable illness, should he come down with one. If you would like to have the lending library list, just ask me and I can e-mail or mail it to you.

If you find that any information I have given you is inaccurate or has changed, I hope you will let me know so that I will be accurate when I give information to people about vaccination and exemptions. Thank you and I wish you well.

Susan Pearce, co-founder
Wyoming Vaccine Information Network
P.O. Box 615
Buffalo, WY 82834
Phone: 307-751-8505

Any information contained herein is for educational purposes only. It is not to be construed as legal or medical advice. Wyoming Vaccine Information Network does not necessarily agree with all of the statements made in every piece of material it shares. The decision to vaccinate is one that must be made by you in consultation with a trusted health care provider of your choice. 

Please be aware that all information that you read needs to be read carefully, keeping in mind that some of it may not be backed by facts. It is necessary to check on the sources to be certain that a statement is true.

This applies to both sides of the vaccination debate