In recent years it has become more commonplace for parents to abstain from vaccinating their children for myriad reasons, the most common being religious concerns. Now, four states: New York, California, West Virginia and Mississippi are no longer allowing students who aren’t vaccinated to attend school. Other states, like Maine, are expected to follow suit.
The recent rise in preventable diseases, like measles and pertussis, is believed to be a driving force for the move. There have been over 1,200 cases of measles reported in 30 states this year alone, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
There’s an issue with children not being fully vaccinated, as well. Many vaccines, including the measles vaccine, require more than one dose. Children who don’t receive all of the recommended doses are at a higher risk of contracting disease. According to a study from the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy (CIDRAP), “children who are not fully vaccinated are 35 times more likely to become infected with measles.”
While many parents believe vaccination is a matter of personal choice, a 1905 Supreme Court ruling confirms individual states have the right to enforce mandatory vaccination laws. Several lawsuits to oppose mandatory vaccination have been filed in New York; none have proven successful.
Proponents of vaccination claim not vaccinating increases the risk of disease for everyone, not just those that abstain.
According to Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, there are two significant reasons,”Vaccines aren’t 100 percent effective. So even some people who are vaccinated will still be at risk. The greater the number of unvaccinated people in a community, the more opportunity germs have to spread. This means outbreaks are more difficult to stem and everyone is at greater risk of exposure — including vaccinated people.”
Some parents residing in states mandating vaccines have opted to remove their children from school, resorting to homeschooling. For now, it appears that states are well within their rights to enforce mandatory vaccinations and further outbreaks may increase the number of states participating.