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Provo • People who won't get immunized on principle should think twice before applying for a job at the Utah County Health Department.

The Board of Health decided unanimously Monday that new employees can refuse immunizations only for religious or medical reasons. The "philosophical" waiver that was available to current employees is being eliminated.

"I don't understand why they would work in public health if they don't believe in immunization," said Health Department Director Joseph K. Miner.

The department wants employees who work with the public to be immunized against influenza, chicken pox, measles, mumps and rubella, as well as whooping cough. The department allow waivers for current employees who have religious, medical or personal reasons for not getting the shots.

Those employees must wear surgical masks when working with infants and people who have weak immune systems.

There are only two employees who have refused flu shots on philosophical grounds, Miner said.

The county wanted to tighten the rules for new employees, and include those rules in the job description so prospective employees will know what is expected.

Deputy Utah County Attorney Diane Orcutt said the policy will be reviewed by attorneys before the County Commission approves it.

Miner said the county legally has to accommodate religious and medical objections to immunization, but it does not have to do so for other reasons.

County Commissioner Douglas Witney asked about how one would claim a religious exemption, and Miner said it would have to be documented by clergy.

Twitter: @donaldwmeyers