W.Va. child must be vaccinated to attend public school, court finds

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A federal judge has rejected a Mingo County mother's claims that immunizing her 6-year-old daughter would be a health risk and a sacrilege.

Jennifer Workman filed a lawsuit in April seeking to force Lenore Pre-K to 8 School to admit her daughter without state-mandated immunizations.

West Virginia and Mississippi are the only two states that don't permit a religious exemption from mandatory vaccinations.

Workman's lawsuit said she was concerned that her daughter could develop autism. The lawsuit also claimed that the immunizations would violate Workman's religious beliefs and due-process and equal-protection rights.

On Nov. 3, U.S. District Judge Joseph R. Goodwin granted summary judgment to the school district, rejecting Workman’s constitutional and statutory claims.

“Ms. Workman’s freedom of religion claim fails,” the judge wrote in Workman v. Mingo County Schools. “Her beliefs do not exempt her from complying with West Virginia’s mandatory immunization program.”

Goodwin also said there was little evidence to support claims that standard vaccinations aren't safe.

Workman's lawyer, Patricia Finn, says she plans to appeal the ruling.

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