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Private School Won't Allow Religious Exemptions To Avoid Child Vaccinations

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CLEVELAND HEIGHTS, Ohio (CBS Local) -- A private school in Ohio has decided religious beliefs are no longer an excuse for refusing to have a child vaccinated.

The Hebrew Academy of Cleveland sent a letter to parents earlier this month notifying them that students are no longer exempt from vaccinations, even for religious reasons.

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"We recognize that there are families that have strong views on both sides of this issue," the letter said. "However, this is not an area where we can accommodate any deviation from this new protocol."

The move follows a measles outbreak in an Orthodox Jewish community in New York City and a chickenpox outbreak at a school in North Carolina with extremely high levels of religious vaccination exemptions.

"We see from these outbreaks that it can just spread like wildfire and cause harm," Cleveland Clinic Dr. Baruch Fertel, whose children attend the Hebrew Academy of Cleveland, told CBS affiliate WOIO. "There's really no good credible science for someone not to be vaccinated."

The only exemption from vaccines at the Hebrew Academy is for medical concerns, such as an allergy to the chickenpox vaccine. But Fertel says those cases are very rare.

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The state of Ohio currently requires six vaccinations for students depending on the grade, including polio, chickenpox and measles.

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