Mandatory Vaccinations, a Health Issue In the interest of protecting the health of citizens during the anthrax scare in 2001, following the terrorist scare due to the events of 9-11, the Center for Law and the Public’s Health proposed that states enacted laws to guard against outbreaks of disease. Nearly all states have followed the recommendations by passing laws intended to respect the rights on individuals while putting into place mechanisms that effectively respond to health emergencies. It would be impractical for the federal government to mandate all citizens be immunized in the same way the government cannot force everyone to be drug tested or deport all illegal immigrants. However, states can force all public schoolchildren to be vaccinated for disease. Though most think mandatory vaccinations is a matter of public safety therefore a good idea, others, at least in some circumstances, think it an example of government overreach.
The latest controversy involving forced vaccinations was during the Republican primary election earlier this year when the subject of HPV became part of the political discussion. The virus is spread by sexual contact and can cause cancer. While some parents were in favor of mandating the vaccine, other objected on moral grounds reasoning that making sex a little safer would encourage students to engage in sex. The larger question is should the government mandate vaccinations at all? Yes say the vast majority and for sound reasoning as opposed to the “reasoning” offered by those opposed to the HPV vaccine.
While some oppose forced immunizations due to religious and personal reasons it is the responsibility of society to protect its children by mandating students receives vaccinations. The government is the vehicle that society uses to enforce necessary protections. Society draws a legal distinction between adult and minors. Children are shielded from harms as much as possible. Mandatory vaccinations have been required for public school attendance since anyone can remember because parents do not want their children to be ill, whether stricken with a common cold or polio. It is a socially responsible act. Immunizing all children does not sacrifice their civil liberties. Some parents object but simply because some people do not bother to research the consequences of not allowing their child to have vaccinations should not condemn all other kids at school to being exposed to crippling illnesses.
The issue of government intrusion into people’s private affairs is a valid one but is a different discussion when children are involved. Most agree that child protective services are a needed government agency though it means giving the government the power to take children away from parents. The government also dictates children must be enrolled in school at least until the age of 16. Children are protected because they have not reached maturity therefore are not prepared to make their own decisions. Adults cannot and should not be required to be vaccinated due to civil liberty concerns and the fact that it’s logistically impossible. Children are forced to attend school or their parents go to jail. However, they cannot enroll until they have had their shots. It’s logistically very easy.
Not vaccinating children puts other innocent children at risk. Mandating that adults be vaccinated is one, un-American and two, impossible. A parent who refuses to immunize their child risks not only them but an entire school of children. Society does not tolerate an adult putting the safety of children in jeopardy. Mandatory vaccinations are a heath issue not a civil liberty issue.