Health officials in Massachusetts are just one demographic concerned that more children than ever are entering kindergarten without their state-required vaccines. According to an article by Cynthia McCormick, almost 1,200 kindergarteners entered school in Massachusetts this year without the required vaccines.
Unfortunately, this isn’t just a statewide trend. According to McCormick, the Centers for Disease Control usually receives about 60 reports of measles per year. This year that number is up to a terrifying 159 reports. Measles can be deadly for children, so why not vaccinate them?
While some children are exempt based on medical reasons, others are exempt for religious or philosophical reasons. When parents choose not to have their children vaccinated due to religious or philosophical reasons, the results can harm both their children and others. According to McCormick, public health officials say that “herd immunity,” a phenomenon which supposedly protects people who can’t be immunized, disappears when the number of vaccinated individuals falls below a certain level. This makes sense because the less people who are vaccinated, the more people who are open to contracting and spreading these otherwise preventable diseases.
The federal government should not allow people who oppose vaccinations for religious or philosophical reasons to prevent their children from receiving vaccinations. This is because these beliefs are just that – beliefs. While I strongly support the right of U.S. citizens to think and believe anything they want, the facts show that vaccinations are effective in preventing disease. Sticking with the example of measles, statistics show that when the measles vaccination was introduced in 1962, the frequency of measles started to decrease drastically.
Because facts can prove the effectiveness of vaccines, it is unfair for parents to not allow their children to receive vaccinations. I would encourage parents to do a significant amount of research before choosing to exempt their child from vaccinations. Organizations like the Centers for Disease Control provide information regarding the truth about different vaccinations, and with the facts to back it up. However when presented with these facts, some people will still choose to exempt their children from vaccinations. This is why with an ever-increasing population to protect, the federal government needs to consider a federal law requiring certain vaccinations for children.