AP Language and Composition (6)
26 September, 2016
To the Next President of the United States of America,
Vaccines are some of the most effective tools for preventing disease and sickness. Herd Immunity, which is when a critical portion of a community is vaccinated to prevent an outbreak from spreading, is another effective way of avoiding infectious diseases from spreading. In recent years, opposition to vaccination has risen due to a proposed link between autism and vaccines. The majority of these exemptions are due to nonmedical reasons. For school immunization requirements, 48 out of 50 states allow religious exemptions and 21 states allow exemptions for philosophical beliefs, which are personal beliefs. I feel that vaccines should be required by law in public schools in order to increase herd immunity and keep people from dying from avoidable diseases.
Herd immunity is severely important to the children that are unable to receive vaccinations for medical reasons. Herd immunity is the only way for these children to keep from catching deadly diseases. Currently, West Virginia and Mississippi are the only states that allow only medical exemptions and this is how it should be for all states. The chances of a child who medically cannot receive a vaccine, catching a preventable disease, should become nonexistent. However, the way that the law allows exemptions now, it is very easy for disease to spread due to a breakdown in herd immunity. Only allowing vaccine exemptions for medical reasons could lower the chances of children with vaccine allergies catching these deadly diseases.
One cause for refusal of vaccines is ones philosophical beliefs. The public concern with perceived events associated with vaccines has increased since a false study was published linking vaccines to autism. This was just one study and it was later withdrawn when it proved to be fraudulent. This one study spread rapidly through the internet and media and has caused a national scare even after being proven wrong by thousands of credible doctors. The internet makes it easy for these stories to go viral and now many parents who have seen this false study are turned away from vaccinating their children. Many of these parents were also not around to lose loved ones from these deadly diseases and therefore believe that they just don’t exist anymore. However, just because we don’t see them doesn’t mean they’re not around anymore and we as Americans need to take the measures to protect ourselves in order to protect others as well.
This idea of mandatory vaccination has been taken to the Supreme Court and is being questioned. The Mississippi court, one of the only states that requires vaccinations unless you have a medical exemption, wrote in a letter, “It is mandated by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution that innocent children, too young to decide for themselves, are to be denied the protection against crippling and death that immunization provides because of a religious belief adhered to by a parent or parents?” This brings up an interesting concept. When children are too young to make their own decisions, should their parents be the one to make the call? I understand the refusal of vaccines for you religious beliefs, but why put your children in harm when they are unable to make their own decisions yet. These deaths are easily preventable and immunization holds the power to be changed. It’s unfair for children to suffer because of their parents beliefs that they may not agree with. Vaccines are made to protect and prevent, not to target any religion or anyone’s beliefs. Immunization is important to our health and our herd immunity needs to be built back up. Through mandating vaccines for all children without a medical exemption, we can stop this breakdown of herd immunity and death from these easily preventable diseases.