May 23, 2014
Room for Debate
Over the years, sustainable achievements have been made in controlling many diseases through vaccination. Yet, there remains the question whether vaccination should be made compulsory or not. On March 23, 2014, in the Room for Debate column of New York Times, five qualified people way in their opinion on the topic “Making Vaccination Mandatory for All Children”. Kristen A. Feemster, a physician and health services researcher, feels that vaccines must be compulsory for all children. She believes that vaccines not only protect individuals but also their neighbor. Feemster says that “Vaccines protect our neighbors --like following traffic laws, drug tests at work, paying taxes”1and therefore like any other law, the law of mandatory vaccine is a shared responsibility. If vaccines aren’t required by all, a community might end up having a few immunized people which means all the community members are at risk. She continues saying that the number of people who do not get vaccinated because of their duty to their religion should be reduced because people who cannot receive vaccines for some reason, depend on their neighbors and community for protection against diseases. Feemster adds that the scientific and public health community should make sure that their involvement is safe and effective, and they should also try to reduce the "vaccine confidence gap" i.e. increase the percent of people who trust in vaccination. Conversely, Jennifer Margulis, a coworker at Schuster Institute at Brandeis University, argues that the officials should encourage and not force parents to vaccinate their children especially in a country that follows the notion of freedom of choice. According to Margulis, an American parent can make their own decisions (unlike the U.A.E. parents) and they have the right to choose to follow the C.D.C.'s vaccination schedule or any other schedule. Margulis uses the Norway vaccination schedule compared to the C.D.C.'s vaccination schedule as Norway is one of the countries with the lowest infant mortality rates. She says that an American mom who breastfeeds her child and follows the Norwegian schedule can be an evidence that vaccinations shouldn’t be compulsory. She says that parents know what is best for their child and their religious reasons for getting exempted from vaccines does not make them uneducated or misinformed. Joycelyn Elders, a surgeon general of the United States, reasons that people should be exempted from vaccination only because of their religious belief and not for other reasons. She believes that not getting a child vaccinated for non-religious reason is equal to child abuse and that those children should not be sent to school to hurt others. At the same time, Community pediatrician and Immunization expert, David Ellimana and a senior lecturer in children's health, Helen Bedford talk about why compulsory vaccination wouldn’t work and that people in Britain get vaccinated voluntarily. They say that we live in a period where people do not like to do things just because the government asks them to; therefore, making vaccines compulsory would only result in worsening the situation as people against vaccines would not follow the law be what the consequences are. Out of the five people, only Feemster feels the urge to mandate vaccination. The rest are against mandating vaccination. Word Count: 552
The Debate on Mandating Vaccines
Vaccinating is like giving immunity to a person before the disease has a chance of making people sick. With the increase in the use of vaccines, many diseases decreased drastically. Five scholars Kristen A. Feemster, Jennifer Margulis, Joycelyn Elders, David Ellimana, and Helen Bedford raise their voice on mandating vaccination for children in the ‘Room for Debate’ column on NYT. They all provide different reasons for their claim. Feermster makes a good...
Cited: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). "Ten great public health achievements--United States, 1900-1999." MMWR. Morbidity and mortality weekly report 48, no. 12 (1999): 241, accessed May 23, 2014, http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/00056803.htm
"The Opinion Pages Room for Debate: Making Vaccination Mandatory for All Children." The New York Times, accessed May 23, 2014, http://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2014/03/23/making-vaccination-mandatory-for-all-children
Whitney, Cynthia G., MD, et al. “Benefits from Immunization During the Vaccines for Children Program Era — United States, 1994–2013.” Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, accessed May 23, 2014.
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