CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – This time of the year means kids are going back to school.
This could also mean that parents are preparing to take their kids to a physician to get their vaccinations.
However, numbers suggest that this may not be the case.
According to the Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC), the number of students who have been exempting their vaccinations for religious exemptions has increased over the last five years.
During the 2014-2015 school year, 5,826 students gained religious exemptions from their vaccinations.
That number would increase to 11,154 during the 2018-2019 school year.
Locally, Berkeley, Charleston, and Dorchester Counties combined to have 1,761 students religiously exempt their vaccinations last school year.
All it takes to earn a religious exemption is for a parent or guardian to sign the appropriate section (Statement of Religious Objection) of the South Carolina Certificate of Religious Exemption.
Despite the amount of students receiving vaccinations decreasing, DHEC still believes vaccinations are the best way to go.
“Unfortunately, vaccine-preventable diseases, such as chicken pox, whooping cough, mumps and measles still affect many children in South Carolina.”Dr. Theresa Foo, Immunization Division medical consultant , DHEC
Dr. Foo also states that,”up-to-date are the best protection for our children against these diseases.”
A former teacher who has taught in Richland County School District 2 also believes that vaccinations are the best way to go because even teachers could potentially be susceptible to these diseases.
With numbers steadily increasing year after year, only time will tell whether there is an end in sight for the religious exemption of vaccinations.