Should the United States pass nationally mandated vaccines?

[ By on March 16, 2016 ]

In December of 2014, the “most magical place on Earth” became a little bit less magical when over 100 cases of measles emerged, all connected to a shocking outbreak at the theme park. While Mickey and Minnie Mouse may enjoy polka-dots and various other sorts of spots, falling ill with measles, a seemingly eradicated disease, is a far cry from the fun experienced on Space Mountain. The 2014 Disneyland outbreak exposed the public to a reality hard to conceive of: according to the National Immunization Survey, nearly 9 million children in the United States are not fully vaccinated against measles. Although many consider vaccines to be just another blip on the radar of their yearly physical, the popularity of the anti-vaccine movement doesn’t show signs of stopping anytime soon. This movement, mainly triggered by the publication of a now retracted 1998 British study conducted by Dr. Andrew Wakefield, inflates the risks involved in getting vaccinated, the supposedly harmful nature of the ingredients of vaccines, and continues to connect vaccines to autism. Instead of allowing parents to skip out on vaccines for their children, a practice advocated for by the anti-vaccine movement, the federal government should pass a Congressional bill to encourage national mandatory vaccination for all.

While opponents of a possible bill may declare mandatory vaccination a violation of personal choice, in the case of vaccines, the wishes of the few can easily harm the wishes of the many. “Herd immunity,” an effect of widespread vaccination, can only occur when all or most of those who are able to receive vaccination do (exempting the individuals who are unable to due to medical reasons). “Herd immunity” refers to the protection offered to exempt individuals when a large percentage of the population has been vaccinated, thus making it nearly impossible for outbreaks to start and spread. When a large percentage does not receive the vaccination, however, those unable to receive the vaccine for medical reasons are left unprotected from disease, predisposing these individuals to suffering. In order to ensure the greater good of the majority of Americans, the United States government must nationally mandate vaccination, and supporters of the anti-vaccine movement must have their children vaccinated, securing a “magical” and disease-free future for us all.

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4 Comments on “Should the United States pass nationally mandated vaccines?”

  1. cforbes

    I think this is an excellent issue to talk about as it touches on so many different issues of science, ethics, family dynamics, child development, etc. I completely agree that people should be required to take vaccines because although it looks over certain individual rights in making it mandatory, from a utilitarian perspective, long-term it is creating more potential happiness of more people at the cost a few people that are frustrated about having to give their children vaccines. Addressing a few concerns, I know that some children can become very sick and possibly die from just a vaccine, but this is by far a minority of people and again going back to utilitarianism, the benefits greatly outweigh the costs when considered a possible outbreak of some disease and the struggle to contain it and eliminate it loom as a threat. I really enjoyed your approach to the topic and emphasis on data and science to back up your claim. Great work!

  2. cforbes

    I think this is really interesting.

    In the United States, I think obligating people to get vaccines takes away from a person’s right to bodily autonomy. In thinking about that, I’m considering reasons that one might be able to get out of a vaccine, if it were required, like because of an allergy to the components of the vaccination. Regardless of whether one is actually allergic to a vaccine, it’s possible to pay off a doctor and it’s easy to stretch the definition of an allergy and the potential harm of a vaccine. In that, it’s impossible to regulate who can and cannot get out of a vaccine. In addition, there’s the issue of doctor-patient confidentiality in one’s getting a vaccine, and requiring a person to get a vaccine and requiring a doctor to report whether or not one got it might be a violation of that confidence.

    In addition, if even one person wasn’t required to get the vaccine or got out of it in another way, while a disease would still be more easily contained, we wouldn’t be able to achieve “herd immunity.”

    In my opinion, because this is so hard to regulate, it’s impossible not to leave whether one wants to get a vaccine or not to simple choice.

  3. cforbes

    Kelley Nicholson-Flynn

    [ May 04, 2016 at 1:15 am ]

    This is a *really* powerful issue worthy of careful attention. You might even ask what kind of policy a private institution (like Riverdale!) should have from an ethical perspective.

  4. cforbes

    The anti-vaccine movement, while I personally find it foolish, is a powerful one in American society today. Perhaps, rather than punish individuals who do not have the vaccine, which may reinforce their beliefs of anti-vaccination, the government could create incentives to be vaccinated, such as tax breaks. The positive reinforcement could nudge people in the direction of vaccines, bringing the threat of certain epidemics much lower.

Hi Stranger, reply with your thoughts:

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