Military Vaccine Exemptions for Children

(05/22/2017) I know there have been a lot of requests to join the ‘Secret’ Facebook groups. However, there is a reason they are secret. Those who choose to no longer vaccinate come under fire a lot and the groups that I am in were all simply ‘Closed’ at one point or another. All had to change to ‘Secret’ to keep out those with less-than-good-intentions. Unfortunately, this means that the ONLY way to add people is to friend them on Facebook first. I am not comfortable doing this. 

HOWEVER, I was given the name of a ‘Closed’ group as a recommendation for those looking for a place on Facebook to start. My suggestion would be to Join this group, hang out for a while and post. It could be an excellent way to show that you’re ‘safe’ and get added to some of the other groups.

I know this sounds harsh, but, unfortunately with vaccine choice under fire, it’s the way things kind of need to be at the moment to protect ourselves and our children.

UPDATED 03/19/2017 – Joint Instruction (previously updated 10/06/2016, 03/18/14)

UPDATED 10/16/2016 – DoDEA Exemption form link updated (previously updated 03/18/14)

UPDATED 8/21/2015 with DoDEA school registration information (at the end)

Last year with hubby deploying I wanted to be able to use the Child Development Center’s drop in service for appointments and their Give Parents a Break ‘date nights’. With my children not up to date on their vaccinations according to regulations, I needed to get their exemptions in line. Although we live in Utah and Utah has all three exemptions (medical, religious, and philosophical), the military only accepts medical and religious (I was told initially that they would ONLY accept medical, but knowing that wasn’t true, I researched further on what I would need).

Although the question doesn’t come up very often, it does come up. It’s not too hard to explain, just involves a lot of forms (thankyoumilitary) so I thought I’d just write a post I can refer people to.

The regulation is in the following PDF:

https://health.mil/Policies/2013/10/07/Immunizations-and-Chemoprophylaxis-for-the-Prevention-of-Infectious-Diseases(UPDATED LINK 03/19/2017)

The section pertaining to the CDC, FCC and other base activities is on page 12, section 3-5b:

(b) Children attending DOD and USCG-sponsored primary and secondary schools, childcare centers, or similar facilites are required to be up to date on all age appropriate ACIP-recommended vaccines for children unless there is a documentation of previous immunization, religious exemption, or medical contraindication. For foreign-national children outside of the United States, observe host country recommendations or requirements.

What I did for my process is started with DoDEA Form 2943. I filled it out, and in the ‘reason’ section (section 4) I wrote”

(Form is now http://www.dodea.edu/TarawaTerraceES/upload/dodea-exemption-shots.pdf) (UPDATED 10/17/16)

To whom it may concern;
(We / I) {First and Last name(s)}, as the {(parent (s) / guardian(s)} of ______________________(name of child) are exercising (our/my) rights under the US Constitution, Army Regulation 40-562, BUMEDINST 6230.15A, AF JI 48-110, CG COMDTINST M6230.4F , section 3.2, para4, and Army Regulation 608-10, section 4-6, para 2, to receive Religious Exemption from Vaccination, due to our genuine and sincere religious beliefs which are contrary to the practices herein required.
The U.S. Supreme Court held in Frazee V. Illinois Dept. of Security, 489 U.S. 829, that a religious belief is subject to protection even though no religious group espouses such beliefs or the fact that the religious group to which the individual professes to belong may not advocate or require such belief. This ruling is also reflected in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 as amended Nov. 1, 1980; Part 1605.1-Guidelines on Discrimination Because of Religion.
Sincerely,
Your signature.
Date

After turning in the form with page 10 from the regulations, with the religious exemption part highlighted, they requested a letter from clergy. According to what I know, a letter from clergy is NOT required for civilians, only for active duty, but I complied with the request. While I was working on getting that letter, I sent them the following:

To Whom It May Concern:

I understand that you have requested a letter from my clergy regarding my religious reasons for not vaccinating my children for their exemption forms for the CDC and FCC offices here at Hill Air Force Base.

I wanted to update you and let you know that although it is my understanding that clergy / chaplain letters are ONLY required for those who are ACTIVE DUTY and requesting exemption (NOT their dependents), I am in the process of acquiring the requested letter. My leader is in contact with the local higher-ups to confirm what the official stance is.

However, I’d like to remind you of the following, found in the 2006 edition of the Code of Federal Regulations, Title 29, part 1605 (enclosed) which states:

“The fact that no religious group espouses such beliefs or the fact that the religious group to which the individual professes to belong may not accept such belief will not determine whether the belief is a religious belief…”

So, should it come back that the local heads of my church have no official stance that backs my religious beliefs, that does not negate them.

If you have any further questions or concerns, please feel free to contact me directly.

I felt it was important to remind them that should it turn out that there is no official stance my church leaders can take (which was the case) that that did NOT negate my beliefs. In my case, I was fortunate in that one of the base chaplains that we had been in contact with was willing to write a letter to the effect that he had talked with us and believed that our beliefs that our children should not be vaccinated were sincere.

The letter and all the forms or whatever they fill out went up the chain of command and we eventually got a response back that our exemptions were processed.

Now. Does this mean all is peaches and roses? No. The CDC has the right (which they have exercised) to refuse my children admittance in the case of an ‘outbreak’. The one time I was ready to drop them off for Give Parents a Break, there had been a case of chicken pox. It didn’t matter that I didn’t feel it was an issue, they were still allowed to / required to not admit my children since they had not been vaccinated for chicken pox.

UPDATE: AUGUST 2015

It’s been a few years since I wrote this and our situation as changed a bit with both kids being school age now and with having moved overseas (which was NO issue at all, the questions of vaccines didn’t even really come up).

I just wanted to quickly say that so far our experience with registering the kids for school has been a piece of cake. For an on base DoDEA school overseas in Japan, all I had to do was fill out the DoDEA form (http://www.dodea.edu/StudentServices/upload/2011_2942_0_M_F4.pdf) and wrote “We do not vaccinate for religious reasons” in section 4.

That’s it. School nurse didn’t bat an eyelash, just said ‘thank you’.

We’ve done this three times now with no issue at all. In fact, I wound up having a nice short conversation the last time and it basically came down that the nurse agreed that parents had the right to refuse and that was okay. 🙂

I have not yet attempted to register them with the CDC here for either Give Parents a Break or for the School Age program as it simply hasn’t come up yet. If I do, I will update this again to reflect my experience.