Vaccine Mandates Are A Must: For Or Against?

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Every year millions die from vaccine-preventable diseases, the majority of which are children. Vaccinations have been around for centuries and as society ages, vaccines improve. There have been increases in the development of new vaccinations and the number of modifications being made on older vaccines. There are seventeen highly recommended vaccines from the CDC, who is in charge of creating the immunization schedule and determining which vaccines should be on that list. However, there are only six mandated vaccines for entering public school in the United States. Additionally, the use of large scale vaccinations in the United States has allowed for the eradication of smallpox and the near eradication of polio. The low number of cases of preventable diseases is misleading since the reduction of vaccinations would lead to a large increase in outbreaks. Vaccinations are vital for the common good and must be mandated by the government disallowing any form of nonmedical excuses even if bodily autonomy is infringed upon.

The allowance of individual wants being placed above the needs of the whole can be detrimental, as such vaccine mandates are crucial. Paul Scanlan who has been involved in healthcare for four decades, and a nurse for twenty-eight of those years, remarks, “Society cannot pay the price for infectious disease” (Scanlan). Both economically and socially communities cannot afford the repercussions of viruses. As seen with COVID-19 the entire world shut down for one infectious disease, people lost their loved ones, jobs, and sometimes both. Yet, COVID-19 is not an isolated instance, this is true of most infectious diseases. Stephanie Awanyai, an associate at Sheppard, Mullin, Richter, and Hamiliton LLP where her practices are corporate and healthcare, states, “While the U.S. Supreme Court acknowledged that individual liberty rights may prevent state intrusion in some instances, the Court made clear that when the health concerns of the larger community are at stake, the state has the authority to infringe upon individual rights” (Awanyai 406). The health of the whole community is far more important than the comfort of one. Additionally, for most vaccines to cause herd immunity ninety percent of the community or more must be immunized against that disease. Thus, opting out isn’t a viable option specifically due to vaccinations being ineffective on certain individuals and others are allergic to ingredients in the vaccine. Vaccine mandates are vital and crucial to the continuation of society.

Just as vaccine mandates are crucial, nonmedical exemptions are crippling. Kevin Malone, professor at the University College Dublin in the department of psychiatry and mental health research, and Alan Hinman, former Director of Immunization Division in the CDC and ranked Assistant Surgeon General, posit, “Challenges to mandatory vaccination laws based on religion or philosophic belief have led various courts to hold that no constitutional right exists to either religious or philosophic exemptions” (Malone and Hinman 274). Church and state are meant to be separated under the United States Constitution. Additionally, most nonmedical exemptions are made by the individual school districts thus not by laws but rather by the optional policy. Katie Attwell, a senior lecturer and academic researcher at the University of Western Australia School of Social Sciences, and Mark Navin, a professor and chair in the Philosophy Department at Oakland University, argue, “Exemption application processes that rely on the burdensomeness of exemption application procedures to limit the number of exemptions do not directly enforce vaccination” (Attwell and Navin 996). There is no quantifiable argument about what constitutes a religion or a philosophic view. As such, there are countless ways to get out of the ‘mandatory’ vaccinations. Malone and Hinman state, “Whether judged under the neutral law of general applicability test of Smith or the compelling interest test of Sherbert, it is reasonable to conclude that there is no First Amendment free exercise right to an exemption from mandatory vaccination requirements” (Malone and Hinman 276). The First Amendment secures people’s ability to practice their religion without Congress’ interference. The Sherbet and Smith tests are used to determine whether a mandate, such as vaccinations, are Constitutional. The many states and national Supreme Court cases dealing with the mandating of vaccinations have passed the Sherbert test, Smith test, or both. While some exemptions can be made, there must be only medical based exceptions otherwise too many may be made.

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Roland Pierik, an associate professor of legal theory at the University of Amsterdam Law School, posits that there are two primary reasons why mandating vaccinations may prove ineffective. The first of which is, “The more vaccinations are presented as a given by the paediatrician, and the less as a choice, the more hesitant parents are inclined to vaccinate” (Pierik 394). When pressured people tend to become defensive. By removing the choice of vaccinations parents, who were on the sidelines of the vaccination argument, could become vocal and increase the amounts of protests there are against mandated vaccines. Additionally, Pierik posits, “The emergence of the current anti-vaccination movement in terms of parents who are disappointed with mainstream medicine, when they experience that their alternative views on vaccinations are not taken seriously” (Pierik 383). A risk of mandating vaccines is that it might encourage parents to stray away from getting traditional healthcare altogether. This will lead to a further increase in vaccine preventable deaths.

Although there may be difficulty implementing mandatory vaccines the consequences are far too high. Roland Pierik counters the argument against mandating vaccination by positing, “When vaccination becomes a legal obligation, steadfast denialists might stick to their opposition – and might even accept criminal prosecution. Hesitant parents, on the other hand, might either be convinced by the message that not vaccinating is too dangerous or might not be willing to risk criminal prosecution and accept the option of vaccination reluctantly” (Pierik 394). While some parents may not be deterred by laws there are still some that will be which will lead to an increase in vaccinations. Additionally, Katie Attwell and Mark Navin add, “It also has different expressive/symbolic content since it places vaccine refusal alongside other everyday activities— driving a car, operating a business—that are permitted by society, but for whose negative consequences one can be held responsible” (Attwell and Navin 990). EXPLAIN. Crucially, Pierik explains, “Infectious diseases are special in that the patient is not only the victim of a disease, but also (consciously or unconsciously) a vector in its further spreading” (Pierik 387). EXPLAIN. CLOSING STATEMENT.

Nonmedical excuses cannot be allowed if the common good is to be preserved through mandated vaccinations, even if bodily autonomy is infringed upon. Millions are dying needlessly and the introduction of a vaccination mandate could prevent those losses of lives as seen with the smallpox and polio vaccine mandates. The constitution does not protect individuals to the point that others are harmed from those freedoms, which often occurs in the case of religious and philosophical vaccination exemptions. While it may be difficult to sway and convince parents of the benefits of vaccination it is far too dangerous to not try. There is no other viable and lasting option when millions hang in the balance; vaccines must be mandated.

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Vaccine Mandates Are A Must: For Or Against? (2022, February 21). Edubirdie. Retrieved April 23, 2024, from
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