Vaccines are among the greatest inventions that revolutionized healthcare services, through vaccinations fatal childhood illnesses have been eradicated. In countries where child immunization is mandatory, infectious diseases are well managed. According to a study by the Pediatric Academic Society, more than 10.6 million cases of infectious diseases have been contained using mandatory immunization programs, especially in schools. These programs continue to save 33,000 lives annually.
Vaccination is a basic requirement in several countries; children attending state public schools are required to be immunized against several infectious diseases. However, many parents have opposed such initiatives citing many reasons. Although parents oppose mandatory vaccination in public schools, the reality is that vaccination has several benefits that outweigh the detriment that come with it. The introduction of mandatory vaccination in public schools where children are required to be immunized against, diseases such as mumps, diphtheria, polio, measles, and rubella have recorded better health outcomes among children especially in countries where active immunization campaigns have been supported by the government. Childhood diseases responsible for the deaths of many children in the early centuries are now becoming rare because of the widespread government vaccination programs.
Smallpox is one of the deadly diseases that have been killing many people for centuries; its frequent outbreak has been contained using proactive measures like vaccinations. The physical handicap caused by polio has long been minimized. Even though some parents still prefer not to vaccinate their children, many childhood infections have reduced since the introduction of mandatory vaccination, especially in public schools. Widespread vaccination campaigns have reduced the child mortality rates in the country. Despite the numerous benefits associated with vaccines, many parents still oppose mandatory vaccination due to several reasons.
Parent refusal to vaccinate their children has become a growing concern among public health officials. Historically, disease prevention has been one of the responsibilities of the state government. State governments have the authority to protect the public from diseases. Several state laws are in place to protect the general public health. State governments are expected to take appropriate measures, including, quarantine, isolation or enacting mandatory laws like vaccination laws.
According to the vaccination laws, all children attending public schools to receive vaccination upon enrollment to minimize the spread of diseases, especially tetanus, polio, diphtheria, measles, mumps, Hepatitis B, Pneumococcal infection, rubella, Varicella and Haemophilus influenza. However, most state exempt parents from mandatory vaccination based on religious or philosophical reasons.
State laws also permit medical exemption for children whose immune system can be compromised, those allergic to vaccines or any child who becomes ill because of immunization. Currently, 18 state permits philosophical exemption due to personal, moral and other beliefs. Despite the widespread campaigns and strict requirements by the government concerning vaccination, some state laws encourage parents not to vaccinate their children.
One of the most common reasons parents give against vaccines is religion. The Amish community has myths concerning vaccines; their children are not immunized because of certain beliefs. However, there is no prohibition against vaccines by the Amish church. Christianity has often opposed vaccination because of its association with measles outbreaks among its members despite the fact that the church does not have any formal objections to vaccinations. A large group of the Dutch Reformed Church has historically rejected vaccination because they believe that vaccines affect their relationship with God. With only four states not accepting exemption to families based on their region beliefs, religion is one of the major obstacles in fighting against infectious diseases especially among children.
Some parents oppose vaccination because they believe that children will develop natural immunity, which is stronger as compared to immunity provided through vaccines. Other parents believe that if a child acquires infectious diseases, this will help them in the long run because the child’s immunity will become stronger when he grows. Many parents assume that most of these infectious diseases are not prevalent; therefore, their children are not at any risk of contracting them.
Other parents do not perceive these diseases as life-threatening and prefer not to vaccinate their children. However, safety has been a major concern that most parents cite. Parents receive information from different sources citing the negative effects of vaccines. Most of the information published does not offer a solid proof about the negative effects of vaccines. Such information can be overwhelming for parents to analyze, making difficult for them to make proper decisions regarding immunization.
Despite all the negative opinions regarding vaccination, vaccines have the potential of saving many lives and also protecting children against infectious diseases. Parents who decide not to immunize their children put them at greater risk. A child who is not immunized can easily acquire diseases, being vaccinated is better than catching a deadly disease.
Vaccines are effective and have kept many children healthy, saving millions of lives annually, children who are vaccinated have a 90 to 98 percent rate of not acquiring any infectious disease. Additionally, all vaccines are safe contrary to the perception of many people who believe that vaccines have severe side effects. All vaccines are tested by the Food and Drug Administration to determine if these vaccines are safe or not. Children cannot receive vaccines unless these vaccines have passed through several protocols.
Vaccines are important and necessary in several countries; infectious diseases are responsible for the deaths of many children. Since these diseases can easily spread, there is a need to prevent further infection through frequent vaccination to avoid outbreaks. Vaccines are not only lifesavers; they also play a critical role in creating an environment where children are not prone to diseases. Mandatory vaccination programs are essential because children are the future and we need to preserve our future.
There is the need for government to initiate information campaigns informing parents opposed to mandatory vaccination the importance and relevance of vaccine programs. Parents should be reminded of the several benefits that come along with mandatory vaccination; this will hopefully ensure that the immunization rates increase to eliminate harmful diseases. Although many people oppose mandatory vaccination in public school, vaccination has several benefits as compared to its negative effects.