A story about a Michigan mom who refused to vaccinate her son is catching a lot of attention online.
Various headlines read some variation of “Mom jailed for refusing to vaccinate her son.” However, there is a lot more to the story than the headline indicates. She was put in jail for refusing a court order which was put in place during a custody fight with her ex-husband involving vaccinating the child.
It is not legal to throw someone in jail for not vaccinating their child. Michigan, like Washington and Idaho, allows parents to legally opt out of vaccinating their child by signing a waiver but that is not why one the mom is serving seven days in jail.
“Every parent has a choice but we also have a right to have our voices heard, so why automatically side with the father that wants the vaccines, what about my choice as the mother who is the primary care taker,” said Rebecca Bredow.
Bredow and her ex-husband did not see eye-to-eye on vaccinating so it was taken to court.
While many of these headlines read one thing, the reason this mom is in jail turned out to be less about vaccinations and more about what happens when you refuse to comply with court orders.
Washington State follows a similar law where parents can fill out this exemption waiver if they choose to not vaccinate their child on the grounds of medical, religious, or personal and philosophical reasons. Before the waiver can be processed parents must get a signature and information from a licensed healthcare provider about the benefits and risks of vaccinations.
Parents who belong to a church or religious body that does not believe in medical treatment do not need a healthcare signature on the exemption form. Proof of immunizations or this exemption waiver needs to be presented to the school district before a child is registered for classes.
Spokane Public School leaders said only 356 out of almost 30,000 students across the district have an exemption waiver on file. If an outbreak of disease happens, like Spokane saw with mumps in the winter of 2016, schools have the right to tell unvaccinated students to stay at home.