Vaccine mandates necessary for public health

After an outbreak of measles in Anaheim, California, the California state government is deliberating on a new law that would ensure more students are vaccinated. The current law allows parents and guardians to exempt their child from vaccinations due to medical, religious or personal beliefs. However, this new law as of April 9, 2015 bans the personal beliefs exemption in the state of California as a reason to not vaccinate.

Statesman believes that immunizations should be required for all those who are physically able, should their religious beliefs not interfere, as vaccinations are necessary to the community and to the general welfare of the nation because it provides communities with the necessary prevention against diseases such as measles and polio which have been eradicated in the past but have now resurfaced.

Most states exempt people from immunizations based off medical reasons and religious beliefs. However, some states like California allow those with personal beliefs to be exempt as well. According to the National Vaccine Information Center, personal belief exemptions are considered any philosophical or conscientious beliefs made by a parent or a child who is old enough to give consent but do not agree with any vaccines. These beliefs are unrelated to religious or medical reasons.

Statesman believes that this is unfair to the people who are unable to get vaccines due to medical conditions, as it increases these people’s chances of catching the disease. Those who are unable to get vaccinations for health-related reasons depend on herd immunization, the majority of people being vaccinated against a disease, allowing the negligible percent of unvaccinated people to be protected to a certain extent.

Statesman feels the largest problem with personal belief exemptions is that the public is largely unaware of the improvements to immunizations, causing them to make uneducated decisions about vaccination. Often, the public is swayed by the myths about immunization, such as that vaccines can cause autism. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the myth was later proven untrue by both the Institute of Medicine in 2011 and a CDC study in 2013. Statesman believes in order to ensure that immunizations continue to benefit the community, the public must be educated in school, such as through health classes and information from their doctors, in order to make well-informed decisions.

Statesman also believes that the government must mandate certain regulations in the country to prevent epidemics. but not force an individual to change their religious beliefs for improving the health of the public. Freedom of religion is protected under the First Amendment and cannot be curtailed by the government.

According to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIH), immunizations are cheaper than treating the disease and they allow your body to recuperate faster and be contagious for a shorter period of time.

While some believe it is healthier to acquire the virus by having the disease naturally, often the results can hurt the community. The NIH also stated that immunizations create a smaller likelihood of having the disease itself.

By banning the personal beliefs exemption, the California government has taken a step in protecting their citizens from resurfacing diseases which had been eradicated in the past. Statesman believes that immunizations are necessary to protect the health of the nation and ensure fewer national health crisis in the future.