Vaccine Exemptions: Knowing Your Rights

By Alan G. Phillips, Attorney at Law 


Unfortunately, there’s a lot of erroneous and incomplete information on the Internet about vaccine exemption rights and procedures. They can be easy to exercise, but there are also pitfalls that can cause unnecessary complications, including loss of the exemption altogether. Those who process vaccine exemptions are often opposed to them, so they don’t always cooperate as fully as they should. Some even overstep professional boundaries with rude and coercive behavior. So, it’s important to know the boundaries of your rights–to avoid a challenge, or to survive a challenge if you are ever faced with one.

Understanding the full scope of your vaccine exemption rights requires knowledge of applicable state and federal constitutions, statutes, regulations, and legal precedent. State laws vary from state to state, and federal law may apply differently in different states (yes, we have only one U.S. Constitution, but rights under it can vary from state to state). Furthermore, in most states, the legal boundaries are not clearly defined, leaving us with only legal “arguments” about what our rights *should* be, rather than a clear picture of what those rights actually *are* presently. So, to effectively exercise vaccine exemption rights, we must learn how the various legal components apply to our specific situation, and in our particular location.

 The National Vaccination Information Center (NVIC) web site list 3 attorneys who do exemption cases. The only reliable, comprehensive information about exemption rights I know of anywhere is at There are informative articles such as “An Introduction to the Law on Vaccine Religious Exemptions” and “Refusal to Vaccinate Forms Raise Medical Ethical Concerns,” a lengthy Q&A page, and an e-book that goes into detail discussing the many facets of vaccine exemption law in a variety of different contexts: “The Authoritative Guide to Vaccine Legal Exemptions”. The e-book can help you sort out fact from fiction and enable you to make more effective exemption decisions. Even attorneys have purchased the Guide, and it’s well-organized information is something you can refer to over and over again.

 While the e-book may be the best source for details about exemption law components, nothing beats a consultation with a knowledgeable attorney for finding out how the law applies to your specific situation, and for gaining insight into your best options and possible outcomes. You can get an explanation of the law, ask questions, and leave empowered to make more confident exemption decisions. Consultations can save you a lot in the long run–attorneys make a lot of money helping clients deal with difficult situations that could have been avoided altogether if the clients had only taken time to do a consultation beforehand.

Please feel free to contact me. 

Alan G. Phillips, Attorney at Law

P.O. Box 3473

Chapel Hill, NC 27515-3473




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