Yes or No to Mandatory Vaccinations Should vaccinations be mandatory for children entering school? At the present time, all fifty states in the United States require children entering public school to be vaccinated. However, no federal vaccination laws exist (ProCon. org, Children Vaccinations, Did you know? ).
Many parents hold religious beliefs against vaccination. Forcing such parents to vaccinate their children would violate the First Amendment, which guarantees citizens the right to the free exercise of their religion.Others believe that common childhood vaccinations may cause rare, yet serious reactions. Proponents of mandatory vaccination argue that the risk of not being vaccinated far outweighs the small risk associated with vaccination. Preventable diseases like measles and mumps can cause permanent disability and death. In 1991, an outbreak of measles in an unvaccinated group of children in Philadelphia caused seven deaths (ProCon. org, Children Vaccinations, Pro). Children infected with mumps can become permanently deaf.Although a very small number of deaths from the MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella) vaccine have been reported, the most common adverse reactions are minor soreness and or fever. Vaccines can eradicate disease and prevent serious illness and death. Mandatory vaccination has eliminated disease that once killed thousands of children, such as polio and smallpox. According to the researchers at the Pediatric Academic Society, childhood vaccinations in the United States prevent about 10. million cases of infectious illness and 33,000 deaths per year (ProCon. org, Children Vaccinations, Did you know? ). They believe that most childhood vaccines are 90-99% effective in preventing disease (ProCon. org, Children Vaccinations, Pro). When children who have been vaccinated do contract a disease, despite being vaccinated against it, they usually have milder symptoms with less serious complications than an un-vaccinated child who gets the same disease.Since some individuals who have been vaccinated may still get sick when exposed to infected individuals, 75%-94% of the population (depending on the disease) must be vaccinated to achieve “herd immunity” (ProCon. org, Children Vaccinations, Pro). When herd immunity is achieved, the number of immunized individuals is high enough to prevent the spread of disease through the population. Even when diseases seem to no longer exist, outbreaks can still occur if children are not vaccinated.In Boulder, Colorado, fear over possible side effects of the whooping-cough (pertussis) vaccine led many parents to refuse vaccination for their children, causing Boulder to have the lowest school-wide vaccination rate in Colorado for whooping-cough, and one of the highest rates of whooping-cough in the United States as of 2002 (ProCon. org, Children Vaccinations, Pro). However there are certainly concerns about vaccinations. According to a 2010 survey by the University of Michigan, 31% of parents believe that they should have the right to refuse mandated school entry vaccinations for their children (ProCon. rg, Children Vaccinations, Con). They believe that vaccines are often unnecessary in many cases where the threat of death from the disease is small. During the early nineteenth century, death from childhood diseases, such as, whooping-cough, measles, and scarlet fever, fell dramatically even before immunization became available (ProCon. org, Children Vaccinations, Con). This decreased mortality has been attributed to improve personal hygiene, water purification, effective sewage disposal, and better food hygiene and nutrition, not immunization.Many against mandatory vaccination believe that vaccinations interfere with natural law and God’s plan for humanity. They believe that disease is a natural occurrence and humans should not interfere. Vaccines can trigger autoimmune disorders. An un-vaccinated child can build and strengthen his immune system through fighting off infection and can develop a natural immunity to diseases like measles and chickenpox. Vaccines could create an artificial immunity which weakens the immune system, leaving the child more vulnerable to other diseases and infections.Opponents of mandatory vaccination believe that vaccines are created for primarily to generate profit for manufacturers and medical organizations that endorse vaccinations. While the economic slant is bothersome to those opposing mandatory vaccines, their side of the argument is fueled by claims paid under the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program in the United States Court of Federal Claims between 1988 and 2009, which has awarded compensation to 1,322 families whose children suffered brain damage from vaccines (ProCon. org, Children Vaccinations, Did you know? . About 30,000 cases of adverse reactions to vaccines have been reported to the federal government since 1990 (ProCon. org, Children Vaccinations, Did you know? ). Only 13% of those cases were classified as serious, i. e. permanent disability, hospitalization, life-threatening illness, or death (ProCon. org, Children Vaccinations, Did you know? ). Should parents have the right to determine whether their child should have mandatory vaccinations, or should the government have the right to decide whether vaccinations are in the best interest of national health?It has been proven that vaccinations can help eliminate diseases that once killed thousands of children. There is still the thought that any risk to a child from immunization is not worth taking, especially considering that most diseases vaccinated against are not necessarily life threatening. The “slippery slope” seems to be whether the government should have the right to interfere with First Amendment rights.