Last updated on: 2/6/2015 8:54:19 AM PST

Should Any Vaccines Be Required for Children?


General Reference (not clearly pro or con)

The American Academy of Pediatrics stated the following in their handout "Vaccine Safety: The Facts," available at www.aap.org (accessed Aug. 21, 2014):

"Vaccines save lives and protect against the spread of disease. If you decide not to immunize your child, you put your child at risk. Your child could catch a disease that is dangerous or deadly. Getting vaccinated is much better than getting the disease...

Vaccines work. They have kept children healthy and have saved millions of lives for more than 50 years. Most childhood vaccines are 90% to 99% effective in preventing disease...

Vaccines are safe. All vaccines must be tested by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The FDA will not let a vaccine be given unless it has been proven to be safe and to work well in children...

Vaccines are necessary... in many parts of the world many vaccine-preventable diseases are still common. Since diseases may be brought into the United States by Americans who travel abroad or from people visiting areas with current disease outbreaks it's important that your children are vaccinated."


Aug. 21, 2014 - American Academy of Pediatrics 

Pew Research Center, in an article by Monica Anderson, MA, Research Analyst at Pew Research Center, in a Feb. 2, 2015 article "Young Adults More Likely to Say Vaccinating Kids Should Be Parental Choice," available at www.pewresearch.org, stated:
Overall, 68% of U.S. adults say childhood vaccinations should be required, while 30% say parents should be able to decide. Among all age groups, young adults are more likely to say vaccinating children should be a parental choice. Some 41% of 18- to 29-year-olds say parents should be able to decide whether or not their child gets vaccinated; only 20% of adults 65 or older echo this opinion.

Feb. 2, 2015 - Pew Research Center 

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) stated the following in their Dec. 1, 2006 publication "General Recommendations on Immunization: Recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP)," published in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report:
"The best way to reduce vaccine-preventable diseases is to have a highly immune population. Universal vaccination is a critical part of quality health care and should be accomplished through routine and intensive vaccination programs implemented in physicians’ offices and in public health clinics. Programs should be established and maintained in all communities to ensure vaccination of all children at the recommended age...

Physicians and other health-care providers should simultaneously administer as many vaccine doses as possible, as indicated on the Recommended Child and Adolescent Immunization Schedule."

Dec. 1, 2006 - Centers for Disease Control 

Should Any Vaccines Be Required for Children?

PRO (yes) CON (no)
Ben Carson, MD, Professor Emeritus of Neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins University, in a Feb. 2, 2015 article, "Ben Carson Backs Vaccinations as 'Safe,'" available at www.thehill.com, stated:
"Although I strongly believe in individual rights and the rights of parents to raise their children as they see fit, I also recognize that public health and public safety are extremely important in our society… Certain communicable diseases have been largely eradicated by immunization policies in this country and we should not allow those diseases to return by foregoing safe immunization programs, for philosophical, religious or other reasons when we have the means to eradicate them."

Feb. 2, 2015 - Ben Carson, Sr., MD 

Marco Rubio, JD, US Senator (R-FL), in a Feb. 3, 2015 NBCNews article, "Rubio and Jindal Latest to Weigh in on Vaccine Debate," available at www.nbcnews.com, stated:
"Absolutely, all children in America should be vaccinated. Unless their immune (system is) suppressed, obviously, for medical exemptions, but I believe that all children, as is the law in most states in this country, before they can attend school, have to be vaccinated for a certain panel."

Feb. 3, 2015 - Marco Rubio, JD 

Barbara Boxer, US Senator (D-CA), and Dianne Feinstein, US Senator (D-CA), in a Feb. 4, 2015 joint open letter to Diana Dooley, JD, Secretary of California Health and Human Services, available at www.boxer.senate.gov, stated:
"We write today to ask that you and other appropriate state officials reconsider California's policy on vaccine exemptions...

While a small number of children cannot be vaccinated due to an underlying medical condition, we believe there should be no such thing as a philosophical or personal belief exemption, since everyone uses public spaces. As we have learned in the past month, parents who refuse to vaccinate their children not only put their own family at risk, but they also endanger other families who choose to vaccinate.

California's current law allows two options for parents to opt out of vaccine requirements for school and daycare: they must either make this decision with the aid of a health professional, or they can simply check a box claiming that they have religious objections to medical care. We think both options are flawed, and oppose even the notion of a medical professional assisting to waive a vaccine requirement unless there is a medical reason, such as an immune deficiency.

Furthermore, recent reports have shown that the problem is not limited to parents opting out of all vaccinations. There is also a growing trend of parents failing to follow full vaccine schedules and schools and daycare centers failing to track those families that have pledged to get the required vaccines after the year begins. We think that under your leadership, California can change this practice and reassure families that all children are safe at schools, daycare centers, and in other public places."

Feb. 4, 2015 - Dianne Feinstein 
Barbara Boxer 

Frederica S. Wilson, MS, US Representative (D-FL), in a Feb. 3, 2015 press release, "Congresswoman Frederica S. Wilson to File Legislation Mandating Vaccinations for Public School Students," available at www.wilson.house.gov, stated:
"As a former elementary school principal, I know the importance of childhood vaccinations. Research has shown that vaccinations are effective; they keep children healthy, save lives, and protect future generations of Americans.

The health and safety of children should be our top priority. Children who are not vaccinated put themselves and others in danger of acquiring and spreading preventable diseases, particularly to those individuals who cannot receive vaccinations, such as infants, pregnant women, and individuals with compromised immune systems, including the elderly and those with diseases like HIV/AIDS and leukemia.

That is why I am introducing legislation mandating vaccinations for public school students."

Feb. 3, 2015 - Frederica S. Wilson, MS 

Manny Alvarez, MD, Senior Managing Editor for FOX News Channel's Health News, in a Jan. 30, 2015 article, "Dr. Manny: Should Obama Make Vaccines Mandatory for All Children?," available at www.foxnews.com, stated:
"I am calling on the federal government to mandate vaccinations for all children, and to eliminate all of the silly loopholes that are creating chaos in so many communities throughout America. Vaccinations are not only about the individual, but they are also meant to protect the lives of others.

As we have seen over the past several weeks, measles, and other communicable diseases that were all but eradicated decades ago, are popping up across the country, and putting people’s lives in danger.

Basic childhood vaccines should be the legal requirement of every citizen in this country, except in the case of medical contraindications. However, those exclusions should only be granted by a physician or health care provider. It is not for the parent, or consumer advocate to offer an opinion that prevents a child from receiving a vaccination. All these opinions serve to do is confuse the caregiver and possibly even misinform them, which could have fatal implications for the child."

Jan. 30, 2015 - Manny Alvarez, MD 

Robert Pearl, MD, Executive Director and CEO of the Permanente Medical Group, in a Feb. 5, 2015 article, "A Doctor's Take: Why Measles Vaccination Must Be Mandatory," available at www.forbes.com, stated:
"As a society, we don't condone behavior that puts others at risk for injury or death. There are no exemptions for laws that prohibit drunk-driving, for example.

Refusing vaccination for reasons other than a serious medical condition is unfair and dangerous to those who can't protect themselves. Those who remain unvaccinated pose a great risk to many, including: all children under 1 year old who are too young to be vaccination, older adults who don't know their immunity has lapsed and others with impaired immune systems...

Eliminating personal belief exemptions will prevent suffering and save lives. It is the right thing to do."

Feb. 5, 2015 - Robert Pearl, MD 

Phil Plait, PhD, astronomer and author of Slate's "Bad Astronomy" blog, in a Sep. 24, 2014 blog post, "Should Public School Students Get Mandatory Vaccines?," available at www.slate.com, stated:
"In some areas, public school authorities have mandated that students be vaccinated for various diseases, and that of course can run afoul of parents’ beliefs. I’ve wrestled with this problem for a while, and I eventually came to the conclusion that a parent does not have the right to have their child in a public school if that child is unvaccinated, and for the same reason health care workers should not be unvaccinated. It all comes down to a very simple reality: It puts other children at risk.

If you want to rely on the public trust then you have an obligation to the public trust as well, and part of that obligation is not sending your child to a place with other children if they aren’t immunized against preventable, communicable diseases.

I imagine the anti-vaccination movement will be up in arms about this, but here’s the thing: They’re wrong. They’ve been trying to tie vaccines to autism for years, andthey’re wrong. They’ve been saying vaccines have dangerous levels of toxins in them, but they’re wrong. They say vaccines overtax a baby’s immune system, but they’re wrong. They say these diseases aren’t that bad, but they’re very wrong. They say lots of things, but the one thing you can count on is that they’re wrong."

Sep. 24, 2014 - Phil Plait, PhD 

Kristen A. Feemster, MPH, MSHPR, MD, Attending Physician and Research Director at the Vaccine Education Center at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, and Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at the Perelmen School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, in her Mar. 23, 2014 article, "Eliminate Vaccine Exemptions," available at www.nytimes.com, stated:

"Vaccines work by protecting individuals, but their strength really lies in the ability to protect one’s neighbors. When there are not enough people within a community who are immunized, we are all at risk.

Personal and religious belief exemptions should be curtailed because some people, whether because of age or compromised immune systems, cannot receive vaccines. They depend on those around them to be protected. Vaccines aren’t the only situation in which we are asked to care about our neighbors. Following traffic laws, drug tests at work, paying taxes -- these may go against our beliefs and make us bristle, but we ascribe to them because without this shared responsibility, civil society doesn’t work.

Public health is no different."


Mar. 23, 2014 - Kristen A. Feemster, MPH, MSHPR, MD 

David M. Perry, PhD, Associate Professor of History at Dominican University, in a July 11, 2013 Atlantic article, "Destabilizing the Jenny McCarthy Public-Health Industrial Complex," available at www.theatlantic.com, stated:

"Anti-vaccinators risk not only the lives of their own children, but also those of others who are too medically fragile to get vaccinated and must instead rely on 'herd immunity.' Many medical conditions, especially those which compromise the immune system (which is fairly common in the world of Down syndrome), make vaccines medically inappropriate. Happily, in a population of vaccinated people, infectious but preventable diseases have trouble spreading even to the immunocompromised. But herd immunity breaks down when vaccinations are not administered to all who can medically receive them. At that point, people who chose to refuse vaccinations endanger those who had no choice.

It's happening right now, as diseases long rendered unthreatening are roaring back into dangerous life. We've seen a rapid increase of outbreaks in preventable diseases, such as pertussis (whooping cough), measles, and mumps in the U.S. and the U.K. Whooping cough, for example, hit its highest rate of infection in 50 years over the last winter in the United States. A website [website not named in article] dedicated to tracking the illnesses and deaths associated with the anti-vaccine movement cites over 100,000 illnesses and over 1,000 deaths from these preventable diseases."


July 11, 2013 - David M. Perry, PhD 

Paul Offit, MD, Chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, in a Jan. 20, 2007 Wall Street Journal article, "Fatal Exemption: Relationship Between Vaccine Exemptions and Rates of Disease," stated:
"[A]s anti-vaccine activists continue to push more states to allow for easy philosophical exemptions one thing is clear, more and more children will suffer and occasionally die from vaccine preventable diseases...

When it comes to issues of public health and safety we invariably have laws. Many of these laws are strictly enforced and immutable. For example, we don't allow philosophical exemptions to restraining young children in car seats or smoking in restaurants or stopping at stop signs. And the notion of requiring vaccines for school entry, while it seems to tear at the very heart of a country founded on the basis of individual rights and freedoms, saves lives."

Jan. 20, 2007 - Paul Offit, MD 

Rand Paul, MD, former ophthalmologist and US Senator (R-KY), in a Feb. 2, 2015 CNBC interview, "Defensive? Sen. Rand Paul on Voluntary Vaccines," available at www.cnbc.com, stated
"I think public awareness of how good vaccines are for kids and how they are good for public health is a great idea... but I don't think there's anything extraordinary about resorting to freedom…

I've heard of many tragic cases of walking, talking normal children who wound up with profound mental disorders after vaccines. I'm not arguing vaccines are a bad idea, I think they're a good thing, but I think the parent should have some input. The state doesn't own your children. Parents own the children and it is an issue of freedom."

Feb. 2, 2015 - Rand Paul, MD 

Jack Wolfson, DO, cardiologist at Wolfson Integrative Cardiology, in a Jan. 29, 2015 CNN interview, "Watch Doctors Have Heated Debate over Vaccination," available at www.cnn.com, stated:
"Our children have the right to get infections. We have immune systems for that purpose… These are typically benign childhood conditions. We cannot sterilize the body [with vaccines]. We cannot sterilize our society. We need to be affected by these viruses… and we can treat it all naturally."

Jan. 29, 2015 - Jack Wolfson, DO 

The World Chiropractic Alliance stated the following in its article "Vaccinations and Freedom of Choice in Health Care," available at www.worldchiropracticalliance.org (accessed Aug. 21, 2014):

"Medical and scientific research, as well as overwhelming clinical reports, have clearly demonstrated the potential for risk posed by many commonly administered vaccines. These same reports have indicated that the effectiveness of many of these vaccines has not been adequately proven. Based on such evidence, doctors of chiropractic have been joined by progressive medical doctors and public health administrators in questioning public policy regarding mandatory vaccines...

It is the position of The World Chiropractic Alliance that... No person should be forced by government regulation or societal pressure to receive any medication or treatment, including vaccines, against his or her will. This includes mandated vaccines as a requirement for public school admission or for employment eligibility."


Aug. 21, 2014 - World Chiropractic Alliance 

Bob Sears, MD, pediatrician, in an Aug. 30, 2013 article "Dr. Bob Sears Offers Advice in March 21st New York Times Health Section on Vaccine Choices Parents Make," available at www.askdrsears.com, stated:
"So the question is, are unvaccinated parents putting the rest of our children at risk? Maybe a little. But in my opinion parents SHOULD have the right to make health care choices for their children. They should not be forced into vaccinating if they feel strongly against it."

Aug. 30, 2013 - Bob Sears, MD 

Neil Z. Miller, Director of ThinkTwice Global Vaccine Institute, in his article, "7 Reasons Schools Should NOT Mandate Vaccines," available at www.thinktwice.com (accessed Aug. 12, 2014), stated:
"Health authorities do not believe that your child is entitled to be educated unless he or she has first been indoctrinated and intoxicated by the demigods of vaccination. Parents who question the necessity and morality of this dangerous and invasive policy are derisively informed that unvaccinated children are a scourge on society. We are told that everyone -- your children and mine -- must be vaccinated or the 'protective cocoon' will fail. Apparently, vaccines are a colossal waste of technology unless market share is complete!

Vaccines are not legally required for your child to enter school. Each state offers legal exemptions to 'mandatory' injections. Health authorities rarely inform parents of their rights. If you are opposed to vaccines for your child, read your state vaccine laws and submit an exemption.

Some parents are not sure whether to vaccinate their children; it seems like a difficult decision. It may also be scary to oppose the authorities. However, vaccination may not be the right choice for your family."

Aug. 12, 2014 - Neil Z. Miller 

David Elliman, MBBS, community pediatrician at Whittington Health in London and the immunization expert for the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child’s Health, and Helen Bedford, senior lecturer in children’s health at University College London Institute of Child Health, in a Mar. 23, 2014 article, "In Britain, Vaccinate with Persuasion, not Coercion," available at www. nytimes.com, stated:

"Even where immunization is generally mandatory, in a free democracy, there has almost always been the provision for parents with conscientious objections to withhold their children from the immunization program. When smallpox vaccination was made compulsory in the 19th century in the United Kingdom, it was the poor who suffered. If they persisted in refusing immunization, they were fined or even sent to jail, for inability to pay. On the other hand, the affluent simply paid their fines and the children remained unimmunized. It was not long before conscience clauses were introduced and any element of compulsion abolished in 1948 with the introduction of the National Health Service.

In an era when people are less accepting of authority and do not expect to do something because the government says so, trying to enforce immunization may actually make matters worse and create martyrs. Those who have genuine religious objections are unlikely to allow their children to be immunized, whatever the penalty. Parents who are hesitating about their vaccine decision because of concerns over vaccine safety may change their minds if given time and an opportunity to discuss their concerns with a well-informed health professional."


Mar. 23, 2014 - David Elliman, MBBS 
Helen Bedford, PhD 

Jennifer Margulis, former Senior Fellow at the Schuster Institute at Brandeis University, in her Mar. 23, 2014 New York Times article, "Parents Deserve to Have a Choice about Vaccination," available at www.nytimes.com, stated:
"There is tremendous evidence showing vaccinations prevent childhood diseases. Should public health officials do everything they can to encourage, inform and facilitate childhood vaccinations? Yes. Do they have the right to force parents to vaccinate their children? Absolutely not.

[I]n America we believe parents are capable of making their own decisions about their children’s health. We believe in freedom of choice. This freedom of choice extends to when — and even whether— parents vaccinate their kids."

Mar. 23, 2014 - Jennifer Margulis, PhD 

Joseph Mercola, DO, physician, stated the following in his pamphlet "How to Legally Avoid Unwanted Immunizations of All Kinds," available at www.mercola.com (accessed Jan. 26, 2010):

"You have every legal right to protect your children from the known health risks of vaccinations. Laws are in place to safeguard you against those risks — you’ve just never been let in on the secret...

Nobody — anywhere or anytime or under any circumstances — has the right or power in this country to immunize you or your children against your will and conviction.

Into every compulsory immunization law in America are written legal exceptions and waivers."


Jan. 26, 2010 - Joseph Mercola, DO 

The Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS), stated the following in their Apr. 9, 2009 "Fact Sheet on Mandatory Vaccinations," available at www.aapsonline.org:
"AAPS does not oppose vaccines. AAPS has never taken an anti-vaccine position, although opponents have tried to paint that picture. AAPS has only attempted to halt government or school districts from blanket vaccine mandates that violate parental informed consent...

The Centers for Disease Control admits that the reported number of adverse effects of vaccines is probably only 10% of actual adverse effects...

Rampant conflicts of interest in the approval process has been the subject of several Congressional hearings, and a recent Congressional report concluded that the pharmaceutical industry has indeed exerted undue influence on mandatory vaccine legislation toward its own financial interests.

The vaccine approval process has also been contaminated by flawed or incomplete clinical trials, and government officials have chosen to ignore negative results. For example, the CDC was forced to withdraw its recommendation of the rotavirus vaccine within one year of approval. Yet public documents obtained by AAPS show that the CDC was aware of alarmingly high intussuception rates months before the vaccine was approved and recommended.

Mandatory vaccines violate the medical ethic of informed consent. A case could also be made that mandates for vaccines by school districts and legislatures is the de facto practice of medicine without a license."

[Editor's Note: This position had not been updated on the AAPS website as of Feb. 5, 2014.]

Apr. 9, 2009 - Association of American Physicians and Surgeons, Inc. (AAPS) 

Barbara Loe Fisher, Co-founder and President of the National Vaccine Information Center, stated the following during the Oct. 16, 2008 "Rally for Conscientious Exemption to Vaccination," available at www.nvic.org:

"[W]e are standing publicly for the legal right to follow our conscience when making educated vaccine decisions for our families.

Among us are parents with healthy children and those with children who have been hurt by one-size-fits-all vaccine mandates that ignore the genetic and biological differences which make some people more vulnerable than others for having severe reactions to prescription drugs and vaccines.

No American should be legally forced to play vaccine roulette with a child’s life...

If we cannot be free to make informed, voluntary decisions about which pharmaceutical products we are willing to risk our lives for, then we are not free in any sense of the word. Because if the State can tag, track down and force individuals against their will to be injected with biological products of unknown toxicity today, then there will be no limit on which individual freedoms the State can take away in the name of the greater good tomorrow."


Oct. 16, 2008 - Barbara Loe Fisher 

DONATE - Donate to ProCon.org - DONATE
Visit the ProCon.org community on:
Reprinting Policy | How to Cite ProCon.org | Media & Press | Donate to ProCon.org | Disclaimer | Privacy Policy
Debate Topics | State Laws | History of... | Critical Thinking Quotes | Teaching Controversial Issues

© 2015 ProCon.org, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit | 233 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 200, Santa Monica, CA 90401 | Tel: 310-451-9596