The Rochester School District in Minneapolis is taking extreme measures to force students to receive required immunizations.
Over 60 students who have not received vaccinations were removed from class at the Rochester School District in Minneapolis, Michigan. On February 21, the school board unanimously voted to remove any students who had not complied with immunization standards. The board indicated an “unusually high” number this year of students without vaccination documentation.
Rochester school district says they spent the better part of February attempting to communicate with parents of the more than 200 outstanding students. In a statement, the district claimed to have taken “every reasonable measure”, including providing information about where families could receive vaccinations free of charge. The school emphasized it was their “sincere hope that all parents would comply with the law and avoid having their children miss any school”.
Regardless, when the March 1st deadline came around, over a quarter had still failed to provide proof of vaccination or exemption. At this point, dozens of students were taken out of class and supervised in a “safe and supervised location”. They were instructed they could not return to class until they submitted the appropriate documentation.
Michigan students must present official medical documentation of having received immunizations for diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, polio, measles, mumps, rubella, hepatitis B, meningococcal and varicella (chickenpox). Prior to January 2015, parents could simply submit a written objection to their child’s immunization, citing religious convictions or other personal conflicts.
The Michigan health department Administrative Rule 325.176 now requires parents or guardians to attend a “vaccine education session” at the health department, in order to receive a state-issued certified waiver. Parents must attend annually, and separately for each child (up to six times). The sessions do not discuss the risks of vaccines or how to report vaccine injuries.
Many people believe the government should not interfere with personal medical choices, and vaccine mandates infringe upon constitutionally protected religious freedoms. There is concern for the commercial interest of pharmaceutical companies, and controversy regarding certain ingredients in vaccines, i.e. human plasma proteins, mercury and animal products that conflict with vegetarian or vegan lifestyles.
Michigan is one of 17 states that permits medical, religious, and philosophical exemptions to immunization standards. Of almost 18,000 students in the Rochester school district, administrators report 370 have submitted waivers for a conscientious exemption, while a further 125 have received medical exemptions.
“We want these students in our classrooms, so we continue to attempt to reach the families and explain the process,” said Heather Nessler, director of communications at Rochester Public Schools. “We do not ask our families about why they have or have not vaccinated their children, therefore, we cannot speculate as to why the students haven’t turned in the paperwork,” she added.
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