Massachusetts Medical Society: Massachusetts Medical Society adopts new policies addressing vaccine exemptions, health care needs of gender-diverse patients

Massachusetts Medical Society adopts new policies addressing vaccine exemptions, health care needs of gender-diverse patients

WALTHAM – The Massachusetts Medical Society (MMS) has adopted into organizational policy several resolutions impacting public health and health care delivery in the Commonwealth, including the elimination of nonmedical vaccine exemptions, addressing the health care needs of gender-diverse communities, and confronting the health harms of pesticides.

The Society’s House of Delegates, comprised of physicians and medical students, attended the organization's virtual Annual Meeting last weekend, and considered member-sponsored resolutions. Resolutions accepted by the House of Delegates became MMS organizational policy.

Some of the newly adopted policies include:

Elimination of nonmedical vaccine exemptions

The Massachusetts Medical Society opposes, to the degree legally permissible, nonmedical vaccine exemptions for all settings in which vaccines are required in Massachusetts. The MMS will advocate for legislation and regulation that ends, to the degree legally permissible, nonmedical vaccine exemptions for all settings in which vaccines are required in Massachusetts. In 2019, the MMS adopted a policy that opposes non-medical vaccine exemptions for school attendance and has since advocated for legislation and regulation that would end non-medical vaccine exemptions for school attendance in Massachusetts.

Addressing health care needs of sex-, sexual- and gender-diverse (SSGD) communities

The Massachusetts Medical Society believes that providing inclusive, welcoming, and accepting care to patients of all genders, sexual orientations, identities, and anatomies is necessary to providing optimal patient care in health, as well as in illness; with the help of the SSGD community and through a cooperative effort between the physician and patient, effective progress can be made in treating the medical needs of the community. The MMS will encourage the development of patient-centered education for members of the SSGD community around health optimization that is specific to their needs encouraging physicians to listen to their SSGD patients' needs as they improve their care models for their population; recognizing that their voices should be at the forefront of any work that is done to improve their health.

Additionally, the MMS opposes the use of “reparative” or “conversion” therapies (including psychological, medical, or surgical therapies) based upon the assumption that diversities in the SSGD community are pathologies.

Acknowledging harm of mandated reporting in substance-exposed newborns

The Massachusetts Medical Society acknowledges the discriminatory harm that strict mandated reporting for all substance-exposed newborns causes for the parent and infant dyad. The MMS will advocate for harm-reduction efforts aimed toward promoting equity in our mandated reporting framework for all substance-exposed newborns.

Confronting the health harms of pesticides

The Massachusetts Medical Society recognizes that there are associations between early-life exposure to pesticides and health sequelae in children. The MMS will educate the public about the potential health effects of pesticides and advocate for utilization of non-toxic alternatives to pesticides where possible. Additionally, the MMS will advocate to decrease children’s exposure to pesticides, particularly near schools and childcare centers.

Other new public health-focused policies include support of and advocating for funding for universally free school meals and advocating for streamlined enrollment and improved coordination between the various state-administered public health and safety-net programs in Massachusetts.

The Massachusetts Medical Society (MMS) is the statewide professional association for physicians and medical students, supporting 25,000 members. We are dedicated to educating and advocating for the physicians of Massachusetts and patients locally and nationally. A leadership voice in health care, the MMS contributes physician and patient perspectives to influence health-related legislation at the state and federal levels, works in support of public health, provides expert advice on physician practice management, and addresses issues of physician well-being. Under the auspices of the NEJM Group, the MMS extends our mission globally by advancing medical knowledge from research to patient care through the New England Journal of Medicine, NEJM Catalyst, and the NEJM Journal Watch family of specialty publications, and through our education products for health care professionals: NEJM Knowledge+, NEJM Resident 360, and our accredited and comprehensive continuing medical education programs.

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