LUBBOCK, Texas — As mandatory COVID-19 vaccines are being considered for businesses or government buildings, people are also wondering how to be exempt from the mandates.
“The number of people filing for an exemption has increased every year, probably for the last five or six years,” said Director of the Lubbock Health Department, Katherine Wells.
According to the Texas Department of State Health Services, vaccines in general are currently only required in schools and the COVID-19 vaccine isn’t yet mandatory anywhere in the State of Texas. Buy for those that don’t want to be vaccinated, there are two exemptions to this rule: A Medical Exemption and an Exemption for Reasons of Conscience.
In order to get a Medical Exemption a doctor must declare that a person has a medical reason for not getting vaccinated, like an allergy to a vaccine.
“That doctor can say that that individual can’t be vaccinated and that exempts them,” said Wells.
But the Exemption for Reasons of Conscience, sometimes known as a religious exemption, is much more flexible. People can use it if they just don’t want to get vaccinated.
“It’s by choice, not necessarily a medical provider, saying you can’t be vaccinated. Those people filling out the paperwork and the affidavit saying they don’t want to be vaccinated,” said Wells.
But while the reason is more flexible the process to get the exemption is more complicated. Requiring a person every year fill out and notarize an affidavit for each vaccine they want to be exempt from.
Vaccine exemptions right now mostly affect school kids, as most places do not require adults to present vaccination status.
But the Health Department saying there’s always a chance that could change with COVID.
“If that became a required vaccine for school then I would assume a similar exemption process would be put in place,” said Wells.
But no matter what happens, DSHS and the Health Department still encourage everyone to get vaccinated.
“It’s safe, it’s effective we’ve seen much better outcome of individuals who are vaccinated if they become infected with COVID. I’ve seen a lot who have been exposed and vaccinated and haven’t had any problems, haven’t tested positive it really does prevent that spread,” said Wells.