Vaccination is defined as injecting weak illness-causing agents intothe body, which assist the body to build up resistance againstparticular infectious illnesses. The objective of vaccinating is toensure children develop immunity to illnesses without having tobecome infected with the disease the vaccine averts. The issue on ifto vaccinate or not is one that is controversial among parents. Someparents strongly object to having their children vaccinated, whileothers accept vaccination as an important precaution in safeguardingtheir children from some diseases.
In the article “Should Childhood Immunization be Compulsory?”Bradley (330-334) concludes that a law on mandatory child vaccinationis unjustifiable. He argues that parents have a parental right overwhat happens to their children. Hence, the parent has the right todecide whether there child deserves to be vaccinated or not. The onlyexception to parents’ rights should be when the peril of a severeinfection is high. He progresses to note that since children lackclaim rights on healthcare administration it is not possible tocompel parents to vaccinate. Therefore, it is impossible torationalize compulsory children vaccination against the wishes of theparents.
I disagree with Bradley on making any exceptions to vaccinatingchildren. I believe that there should be no exceptions and that evenparents should not have a right to decide on the issue. Governmentsshould pass laws that make it compulsory for parents to ensure theirchildren are vaccinated without exceptions. Governments have theright to ensure the wellbeing of every civilian in their country.This makes compulsory vaccination permissible especially whenenrolling children in school. Research demonstrates that allinclusive vaccination stipulations are deeply accountable for thenotable decline, as well as total suppression of most childhoodillnesses (Novak 1121). In addition, vaccinating children has beenseen as an efficient public-health assessor in the United States.
The possibility of disease outbreaks makes it justifiable forgovernments to have laws that obligate every parent to vaccinatetheir child. Though outbreaks may not happen frequently incommunities where parents oppose children vaccination, owing to theadvantages associated with herd immunity, any incidence of anoutbreak is highly fatal. Because children are more susceptiblecompared to grownups, when disease outbreaks happen in areas wherevaccination is not compulsory, the children are most affected.Children are the first to get the illness and have a high chance ofmortality. A perfect illustration of the seriousness of diseaseoutbreaks is “the measles outbreak in 1991 among the FaithTabernacle, a controversial religious sect given exemption fromchildhood vaccination (Novak 1122)”. Following the outbreak,mortality rate was only recorded for six children as adults were notadversely affected.
Living in a population where some people vaccinate while others donot, raises peril for both populations in the event of an outbreak.It is possible for parents living in the same state to differ on thedecision of vaccinating their children. However, the un-immunizedchildren continue to associate with those immunized for instance atschool or in a community play ground. In the event that an outbreakaffects the un-immunized, even the immunized children are at risk ofbecoming ill. Although children may be immunized, the disease may betoo strong for their weak immunity. This is best illustrated inanother measles outbreak that happened in Utah, 1996. Although thedisease emerged with un-immunized school-going students, it spread tothose already immunized (Novak 1122). Therefore, as the population ofchildren not immunized increases, the peril of vaccinated childrencontracting diseases from the un-vaccinated rises. It can only meanthat the threat to parents who take precautions to protect theirchildren justifies the need for mandatory vaccination.
Vaccination is not simply the parent’s choice, but that of thesociety in general. Vaccinating saves lives as well as avertsillness. It is better to take precaution to avoiding an illness thanto deal with the costs of treating the illness. When a child getsvaccinated, there is a higher possibility that their immunity becomesboosted thus, they do not easily contract illnesses. The vaccinepreps the immune system for possible viruses, which can lead to highmortality. Treating an illness that could have been avoided can bevery expensive in addition to causing distress to the parents andchild. By governments making it mandatory to vaccinate, they assistin reducing medical expenses on preventable illnesses and mostlypromote the wellbeing of their civilians.
Questioning the effectiveness of vaccinations can be compared toquestioning the safety of ambulances. In the case of an ambulance, itis not a guarantee that it is safe, but has been extensively used tosave lives. The same applies to vaccinating. It is possible forvaccination to result in allergic reactions. However, the likelihoodof such allergies is very minimal. It is not possible for acritically ill patient to refuse being transported to hospital in anambulance, just because of the assumption it may be unsafe.Similarly, the possibility of an allergic reaction cannot be used asa premise of preventing illnesses. What is known for sure is thatvaccines have been effective in disease prevention, especially amongyoung ones. Hence, all children must get vaccination as a crucialpreventive measure.
By parents presuming that they have a right over the healthcarechoices of their children, they ignore the child’s right to propermedical care (Gardenier, Koslap and Barr 764). Such personaldecisions can be fatal for children who become infected. It isimportant to note that most of these parents do not have the medicalknowledge apparent in healthcare providers. Parents only base theirdecisions on personal philosophies and religious beliefs. However,those providing healthcare are individuals that have conductedresearch and perfectly understand the effectiveness of vaccines inenhancing immunity. The figures of children that pass away owing tovaccine-preventable illnesses have dropped (Gardenier, Koslap andBarr 764). This demonstrates that vaccines are effective in theirfunction as preventive measures. Failure to vaccinate, results in thereturn of illnesses that can be avoided, as has been the case in therecurring outbreak of measles. By parents consenting for theirchildren to attend school when they are un-immunized, breeds adangerous situation of some illnesses returning (Gardenier, Koslapand Barr 764). Such situations jeopardize the whole society, makingit hard to permanently eradicate some illnesses from society.
Even in cases where parents’ religious beliefs make vaccinationunacceptable, no exceptions should be made to compulsory vaccinationlaws. Such exceptions result in unfair protection clause. They singleout individuals from unrecognized spiritual beliefs. The “EqualProtection Clause” restricts governments from knowinglydiscriminating against persons on the basis of religion among otherfactors (Novak 1115). It is not fair to presume that just becausesome individuals are members of a recognized religious movement, thenthey have a basis for being exempt from vaccinating. What aboutparents that do not belong to any religion, but feel they should notvaccinate their children? They should as well be equally allowed tofollow their beliefs. It is harder to proof one’s personal beliefswhen compared to proving one’s religious beliefs. As a result, thelikelihood of unfair treatment against those that cannot proof theirbeliefs is unavoidable. It is thus important to have a single lawthat does not single out the beliefs of some society members as moreimportant to those of others. Such a law is one that makesvaccination compulsory regardless of spiritual or personal beliefs.
Vaccination is widespread globally. Every country spends money onfunding healthcare organizations, which are directed towards ensuringthat children get vaccinated. Vaccination is a major diseasepreventive approach because it enhances body immunity to specificillnesses. Since children have low natural immunity, parents areencouraged to ensure that the children are vaccinated to boost theirimmunity. However, not all parents heed to this advice. While someare keen on ensuring their children get all the required vaccines,some belief that according to their beliefs vaccination is not amust. I have argued that governments should enact policies that makevaccination mandatory. It prevents fatality associated withpreventable illnesses like measles. By vaccinating some children,while others are not, such measures pose a risk to the alreadyvaccinated children. Parents should not have a right to makehealthcare decisions for their children. I think medicalpractitioners have more informed consent. Hence, vaccination shouldbe a must for all children.
Bradley, P. Should ChildhoodImmunisation Be Compulsory? Journalof Medical Ethics 25.4 (1999): 330–334.
Gardenier, Donald., Koslap, MaryBeth and Barr, Emily. Should Vaccination be Mandatory for PreschoolAttendance? The Journalfor Nurse Practitioners11.8 (2015): 764-765.
Novak, Alicia. The Religious andPhilosophical Exemptions to State-Compelled Vaccination: Constitutional and Other Challenges. Journalof Constitutional Law7.4 (2005): 1101- 1129.