Guest post: Presto, vaccination levels shot up into herd immunity levels

Originally a comment by quixote on California has the “personal belief” exemption.

Some little municpal health department near Vernal, Utah, was trying to figure out how to up the vaccination rate. The vaccination cost $25. A personal belief exemption involved ticking a box on a form.

Well, a local live wire figured they should reverse the incentives. They made the vaccination free and charged $25 for administrative costs to fill out a more time-consuming exemption form.

Presto, vaccination levels shot up into herd immunity levels (above 95%) and the problem was solved.

What struck me about this story that I heard from a relative is how little it took for people to decide their deeply held personal beliefs were totally negotiable.

Add to that the entirely justifiable costs of billing anti-vaxxers for all the contact tracing and unnecessary medical expenses incurred by their BS, and I bet you could get vaccination rates back up where they belong.


  1. Cuttlefish says

    The Denver Post article (unless I am badly misreading it) does not actually mention this case–I, too, would *love* a link to this, and could not find one via google-fu.

  2. quixote says

    (Bit embarrassed to see my off-the-cuff comment out there! :redface:)

    Yeah, I’d love a link too! I’ve looked high and low, Goog, Duckduckgo, Bing, Ixquick, everywhere. My relative lives near Roosevelt in the Uintas. She’s a health care professional, so I suspect she has her facts right, but if it’s out on the web I can’t find it either. It ought to be at the top of the news on CNN or something!

    From what she told me, no, there wasn’t noticeable backlash. I guess there’s a feeling in the US that if money is involved, there’s no point fighting it. Also, it’s mainly “Whole Foods Nation” who’s all fussy about vaccination, and there aren’t many of them going to public health clinics in rural Utah.

  3. says

    This really does seem sketchy, with all due respect to all involved. I’d like it to be true, too, but I find it very unlikely there’d be nothing online about it.

  4. lorn says

    It tells me something if a significant number of people are so clearly willing to compromise their alleged “deeply held personal beliefs and legitimate concerns” for a mere $25.

    You suppose the resistance to vaccines is mostly just a matter of people wanting to publicly adopt the posture of the ‘hip and stylish but thoughtful anti-establishment rebel’ while assuming there is no disease heavy down side? Is their resistance real, or is just an affectation. If a mere $25 caused them to flip it kind of sounds like the later.

  5. psanity says

    I think an awful lot of kids go unvaccinated because people can’t afford to take their kids to the doctor. Most places have programs for free vaccinations, but families who aren’t getting other benefits may not be eligible, or may not hear about them. So, I think the most important part of this is the free vaccinations, with the fee for the waiver being just enough to knock folks who are indecisive or disorganized over the line.

    I’m well aware of the vaccine ideology problem — we’ve been the recipients of lots of unwarranted assumptions about our unvaccinated (medical reasons) child — but that is certainly not the only issue. All children’s vaccinations should be free, and it should be common knowledge with plenty of outreach. When I was a kid, in the 50s, there were periodic vaccination clinic days held at schools. I don’t think that happens anymore.

  6. Scr... Archivist says

    Here is what I have been able to find with a little searching.

    The Utah Department of Health has a website called . There you can read about their Vaccines for Children program, which offers free vaccinations for children aged 0 to 18 who meet certain eligibility criteria.

    Meanwhile, there are three kinds of exemption available in that state, for medical, religious, or personal reasons.

    Now, I only found a page about this for Utah County, which is in the heart of the state and contains the city of Provo. But they do charge a $25 fee for the personal exemption. So, arguably, there is a cost difference between the potentially free vaccination and this particular exemption form.

    But also note that both the religious and the personal exemption forms must be witnessed and signed by a local health department representative. Would that be an opportunity for public education?

    I was not able to find anything specific to Uintah County, where Vernal sits.

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