Should Vaccines Be Mandatory? Experts Pick Sides
From a fear of needles to concerns over autism and even government mind control, the small percentage of Americans who shy away from vaccinations for themselves and their children each year certainly have their reasons. Some even justify the choice with supposed financial responsibility, as if a $40 flu shot is really going to break the bank.
But that’s faulty logic, at least financially. For one thing, the best credit cards can pay for more than 15 flu shots with their initial bonuses alone. Even more importantly, people who fail to get their vaccinations cost the country over $7 billion per year in lost productivity and medical treatments, according to a new study from researchers at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.
That said, we’ll stick to helping you reach Top WalletFitness and leave the medical advice to the experts. We invited a panel of leading experts in healthcare, biotechnology and public policy to tell us what they think. We asked them a very simple question – should people get vaccinated – and received a wide range of wonderful responses, including 8 Yeses and 15 Nos. You can check them out below and share your thoughts on this important issue in the Comments section at the bottom of the page.
Why Vaccines Should Be Mandatory
- "Most vaccine-preventable diseases maintain themselves in nature through a continuous chain of person-to-person transmission. When a transmitting case comes in contact with an immune person, the chain is broken. The higher the immunity in the population, the less likely a transmitting case will find a susceptible person and the chain of transmission will be broken (i.e., infection will die out), even if the entire population is not immune."
Walter A Orenstein // Emory Vaccine Center
- “I don't believe all vaccines should be mandatory in all circumstances for all people. However, vaccines should be mandatory in some situations, for some people to participate in some public and professional activities. If an individual's participation in a particular activity places other members of the public in danger for an infection, then the vaccine, to prevent that infection, should be required if the individual desires to participate in the activity. For example, children who want to attend child care centers should be required to get all age appropriate vaccines. Same for school age children, if they want to attend out of home schools.”
Mobeen H. Rathore // University of Florida College of Medicine
- “Since the days of early death from vaccine-preventable diseases are so far removed, we forget that these illnesses were once referred to as scourges due to the widespread loss of life they left in their wake. We don’t have babies with blindness from congenital measles; we no longer need polio pools in hospitals; and we don’t see pandemics of deadly diseases such as small pox. We feel a sense of security. We begin to parse details. Very small or theoretical risks impact our decisions around vaccination. … As states have allowed for refusal of vaccinations based on personal choice exemptions, we see less awareness and responsibility to the public health and resurgence of diseases like measles causing mini-epidemics. As the numbers of vaccination declinations increase, more disease will inevitably follow.”
Elaine Cox // Indiana University School of Medicine
Why Vaccines Should Not Be Mandatory
- "Like all medical interventions, vaccines have risks and benefits that vary with the circumstances and the individual. Forcing a medical treatment on a patient who has not given informed consent is considered an assault. Vaccines should not be an exception."
Jane Orient // Association of American Physicians and Surgeons
- "It is not clear even that the perceived benefits of vaccines are actually benefits. For example, while immunity following a measles infection is permanent, vaccination-based immunity wears off over time, leaving a portion of the vaccinated population now susceptible to exposure. ... Most at risk are the infants under six months old, born to mothers whose vaccine-based immunity has worn off. In nature’s clever design, newborn infants receive in their mother’s milk antibodies to diseases to which the mother has acquired immunity, and this affords protection against the disease during the critical neonatal period, when the infant's own immature immune system leaves it more vulnerable. Vaccinating during pregnancy is not an option: MMR in particular has never been recommended by the CDC for pregnant women, because of its known potential for harming the unborn fetus."
Stephanie Seneff // MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory
- "There has never been a randomized trial on 69 doses of 16 vaccines versus placebo. In fact, most vaccines have been very poorly studied. The hepatitis B vaccine is given to newborn babies. We are injecting billion, billion aluminum atoms into a newborn.... three times. All to supposedly protect against a virus contracted by IV drug users and those who sleep with prostitutes. You say that there are children who cannot get vaccinated because they are immunocompromised. My children need to take one for the team. I think not."
Jack Wolfson DO, FACC // The Paleo Cardiologist, Wolfson Integrative Cardiology
Image: Planet Flem / iStock.
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