Mandating vaccines helps health policy

Anant Naik

A vaccination bill in California is facing fierce opposition from concerned parents. The bill would mandate children get vaccinated before allowing them to attend schools. This would, according to anti-vaccine protesters, restrict their liberties and force them to use harmful medicines.
 
The medical arguments against vaccinations are baseless. Data from the National Institutes of Health show more than a 90 percent decline in most of the common diseases treated by vaccine since their introduction. 
 
In fact, there’s been a near 100 percent reduction in diphtheria, polio and measles — diseases that consumed hundreds of thousands of lives before vaccines were introduced. 
 
Moreover, in a global study of the efficacy of vaccines, the World Health Organization found that the delivery of vaccines to marginalized populations and impoverished communities reduces the likelihood of epidemics. 
 
Nevertheless, many people have begun to look into the adverse effects of getting vaccinated. Notably, autism has been alleged to result from taking vaccines.
 
People have pointed to a mercury compound, thimerosal, which is usually present in inoculations. However, data from nine different studies by the Centers for Disease Control show that there is, in fact, no causality between thimerosal and the development of autism. 
 
Perhaps the most important argument anti-vaccine protesters have made is that people should have the right to control their health. At first, this seems like something that our understanding of liberty supports. However, most would agree that an individual’s right to exercise his or her liberty should not come into conflict with someone else’s right to exercise their own liberties.
 
Those who aren’t vaccinated are a public health risk because they allow easily preventable epidemics to spread. Consider, for example, the measles scare that occurred on our own campus in earlier this semester. 
 
California’s state government should do two things to address the concerns raised by anti-vaccine protesters: First, they need to discredit protesters’ claims by presenting medical studies to the public. 
 
The reason why misinformed views continue to spread is because people don’t know enough about what vaccines actually do or how they work. I think if politicians were to cite specific studies in their press releases, it would help to build more credibility with their policymaking 
decisions.
 
Second, governments should show strength. A few parents’ objections are not sufficient reason to abandon a health policy, especially if huge amounts of data and public support are in its favor. 
 
If a group of parents believe that guns should be allowed in schools for their children’s protection, does that mean we should allow guns? 
 
Of course not. 
 
Laws ought to be based on sound science, not merely moral sentiment. We need to protect the global community from preventable diseases, even if it makes some parents angry.