Measles outbreak: Different states, different rules on vaccinations

Take California, for example, where more than 90 people have already been infected with measles this year. Like many states, parents in California don’t have to vaccinate their children before kindergarten if they claim a religious or philosophical exemption.

Then there’s Mississippi, which only allows parents to opt-out of vaccines for medical reasons — no other exceptions. That state has a 99.7% vaccination rate — and not a single case of measles this year.

An array of exemptions

Every state requires vaccinations, and every state also allows exemptions for medical reasons, such as if a child has a weakened immune system.

That’s where the consensus ends.

In many states, parents have two other ways they can avoid vaccinating children: religious and philosophical reasons.

“It’s an unfortunate thing people die,” Wolfson said. “I’m not going to put my child at risk for another child.”

Those words struck a nerve with Dr. Tim Jacks, a pediatrician whose own daughter has leukemia and, therefore, a weakened immune system.

“I can definitely, wholeheartedly say that the medical community, the literature does not support that,” Jacks told CNN’s Anderson Cooper.

“The question I might have for him is, if you were in my situation, your two children, what would you do if they were suddenly exposed? What would your thoughts be at that point? Would you still be in your mindset?”

CNN’s Elizabeth Cohen contributed to this report.