Public Policy Paper

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Amanda Powell
July 20, 2012
Health Care Economics

Vaccination Policy

Protecting society from deadly diseases that can be prevented through the administration of vaccines is a foundation for ensuring the health of the public. Vaccines are highly effective in preventing death and disability, and save billions of dollars in health costs annually. The Federal Food and Drug Administration, The Center for Disease Prevention and Control, along with the United State Public Health Department are working diligently to ensure that vaccines licensed in the United States are as safe and effective as they can be and have strict processes for licensing vaccines.

Childhood immunization has been one of the earliest priorities of the FDA along with a wide range of efforts, such as outreach campaigns, disease monitoring and vaccine research, have been improved. Today, all school and licensed day care immunization laws are State-based. There are no Federal laws mandating immunizations for school entry and day care attendance in this country. The U.S. Supreme Court, however, has affirmed the right of States to pass and enforce compulsory immunization statutes, and has upheld the constitutionality of State vaccination laws. Currently all 50 States have school immunization laws in effect although the specific vaccines, number of doses, and vaccine schedules vary by State. All States allow exemptions to immunization for medical reasons. In addition, 48 States allow religious exemptions and 15 States allow philosophical exemptions. Overall, immunization coverage among children in the United States is higher today than ever before.

With the increasing numbers of vaccines being introduced and the generally low level of visible threat from disease, continued challenges to school vaccination requirements are expected. These laws can be expected to be upheld by the courts as long as the balance of protecting the public health is achieved by mandating such requirements.

The...
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