School Vaccinations in U.S
School Vaccinations in U.S
Vaccination is among the most effective public health intervention in the prevention of morbidity and mortality, as well as in the minimization of healthcare costs. The United States has benefited immensely from state laws that make vaccination mandatory for school entrance. However, it is imperative to note that there are no federal laws prescribing vaccination and that all laws mandating the same are always local or state laws (Biggs and Lelia 462). School vaccination assessment (a local-level system for data reporting) has been enforced as part of local or state vaccination requirement in schools. The school vaccination requirement is important because it minimizes the risk from VPDs or vaccine preventable diseases.
It is vital that school-going children be vaccinated because they interact with other children while at school and, therefore, are at a higher risk of contracting diseases. Specifically, a number of outbreaks have been reported recently in schools, including measles, whooping cough, vericella, and mumps, which makes it important for school-age children to receive vaccinations (Sifferlin 1). The number of vaccines required has increased considerably over the years, from less than five during the 1900s to more than twenty today. While the fact that so many shots are required may cause discomfort and frustration to parents and their children, it is important to bear in mind that each shot is intended to protect the children against diseases.
According to Ciolli, the US is on the brink of a public health catastrophe (Ciolli 129). For decades, state governments have insisted that school-age children be vaccinated against a number of diseases, including measles and polio, as a precondition for enrollment in public schools. However, while nearly all states have tailored their vaccination statutes to exempt children from families with philosophical and religious objections, the pervasive use of such exemptions is likely to undermine the numerous benefits of vaccination programs, such as ensuring “herd immunity” (Bernheim, James, and Alan 147). Because it is improbable that state and local governments will abolish such exemptions, the United States must consider other approaches for ensuring that children are vaccinated.
Aside from providing incentives for immunization, the various states must also seek methods of compensating those caused to suffer due to disease outbreaks occasioned by the loss of herd immunity within a given community (Ciolli 129). The California legislature has recognized the shortcomings of exemptions based on religious or philosophical grounds, and has passed a bill making vaccination in public schools mandatory, which means that parents’ religious or personal objections will no longer be considered grounds for avoiding immunization (McCarthy 1). The bill, which outlines what is likely the most stringent vaccination regime in the United States, would do away with the current exemptions permitting students to avoid vaccination because of religious and/or personal beliefs.
A move to seal the “personal philosophies” and “religious beliefs” loopholes began following a measles outbreak in 2014 (McCarthy 1). The disease, if not properly managed, can cause severe health complications and even death in young children. According to the CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention), in 2014, the US experienced 668 measles cases from 27 states. This was the greatest number of measles cases reported since the disease was eliminated in America in 2000 (CDC 1). In conclusion, the issue of mandatory school vaccination is important because vaccination prevents or reduces the outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases.
Bernheim, Ruth G, James F. Childress, and Alan L. Melnick.Essentials of Public Health Ethics. Burlington, MA: Jones & Bartlett Learning, 2015. Print.
Biggs, Selden, and Lelia B. Helms. The Practice of American Public Policymaking. Armonk, N.Y: M.E. Sharpe, 2014. Print.
CDC. “Measles Cases and Outbreaks.” CDC, 2015. Web. 13 July 2015.
Ciolli, A. “Mandatory School Vaccinations: the Role of Tort Law.” The Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine. 81.3 (2008): 129-137. Print.
McCarthy, Tom. “Mandatory Vaccination Bill for Public Schools Passes California Legislature.”The Guardian. The Guardian, 2015: Web. 13 July 2015.
Sifferlin, Alexandra. “4 Diseases Making a Comeback Thanks to Anti-Vaxxers.” Time. Time, 2014: Web. 13 July 2015.