Disney World moved to ease its stance against a controversial vaccination policy after a law that prevented local parents in Florida from being forced to get their children vaccinated advanced to the governor’s desk, Disney officials said on Tuesday.
The state ban on parents being forced to get their children vaccinated as a condition of attending private or parochial schools was approved by Florida lawmakers on Monday and will go into effect on 1 July.
Disney, located in Lake Buena Vista, Florida, previously resisted attempts to let private and public schools opt out of the mandate, saying it would violate state law and allow students to receive vaccinations based on personal, moral or religious beliefs.
Disney announced in February it would allow parents who are against vaccines to send their children to public schools.
Mike Henneberry, a Disney spokesman, said the company was still evaluating whether to allow waivers for parents who want to keep their children home from school or another Disney property.
“Since many parts of the law related to personal beliefs and for religious reasons still need to be determined, we are continuing to evaluate our future approach,” Henneberry said.
The restrictions for private and parochial schools were pushed by the anti-vaccination movement, which believes that autism has been linked to childhood vaccinations.
The success of the local law followed a decision by the national Catholic bishops, which said parents who opt out of vaccination are acting contrary to church teachings.
Health experts and parents have long pointed to unfounded fears about vaccines as a major reason for a rise in cases of preventable disease.
A study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in 2011 said nearly 70,000 cases of disease had been linked to unvaccinated children between 1990 and 2005.
By eliminating a portion of the exemption, Florida could prevent up to 100,000 cases of disease between 2013 and 2025, according to the state’s Department of Health.
The state already allows exemptions for illnesses like measles and polio, which are no longer in use.