Pros and Cons
Video exploring critical thinking and how it leads to great citizen involvement
Last updated on: 8/13/2014 9:08:22 AM PST

Should Any Vaccines Be Required for Children?

PRO (yes) CON (no)
The American Academy of Pediatrics stated the following in their handout "Vaccine Safety: The Facts," available at (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 

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, 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 

Jan N. Widerman, DO, osteopathic pediatrician, in an American Osteopathic Association article, "Should Your Child Be Vaccinated?," available at (accessed Aug. 12, 2014), stated:

"First, parents need to know that vaccines save lives…

When my patients question the necessity of vaccination, I remind them that it is because of vaccines that we are on the verge of eliminating diseases like polio from the world… Without vaccines, potentially deadly diseases and illnesses such as hepatitis, diphtheria, and tetanus could spread to large portions of the population and become serious threats to public health.

Children and infants are exposed to hundreds of antigens every day…Thus, an immunization with a typical exposure of only three antigens causes no significant stress at all to the immune system.

Vaccines help to protect not only the child being vaccinated, but also the child who is not vaccinated... If the vast majority of children are vaccinated, then it will be much more difficult for a disease to spread."

Aug. 12, 2014 - Jan N. Widerman, DO 

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, 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 Roumeliotis, MD, Medical Officer of Health at the Eastern Ontario Health Unit stated the following in his article "Should My Child Be Vaccinated," available at (accessed Aug. 21, 2014):

"Immunization is one of the most important steps you can take to ensure your baby's current and future health. Since immunization was first invented, it has saved hundreds of thousands of children's lives...

Vaccines have proven extremely effective in controlling and even eradicating some major childhood diseases. Indeed, smallpox - a severe and often fatal disease which used to be common among children - has been entirely wiped out by worldwide immunization...

Generally, vaccines are safe and very effective. In my mind, the benefits of immunization far outweigh any risks. The bottom line is that I believe that vaccines are safe and necessary - my children are fully vaccinated."

Aug. 21, 2014 - Paul Roumeliotis, MD 

David Tayloe, MD, Pediatrician and President of the American Academy of Pediatrics at the time of the quote, made the following statement during his Apr. 2009 interview "Sound Advice," available at

"There are a number of diseases which are infectious diseases that cannot be adequately treated with modern medical therapy, and these diseases can cause significant disability and even death in the pediatric population. Some of these diseases have been amenable to the development of vaccines so that we can protect children and adults from these life threatening illnesses, and that’s the main reason that we’re giving vaccines to children is to protect them from untreatable life threatening illnesses...

For viral illnesses such as polio and measles, we do not have antibiotics, and therefore, the vaccine is absolutely essential...

[O]ur citizens need to understand that the vaccine program has been extremely successful. It’s the most effective public health program in the history of man, and we cannot let down our guard just because we’ve done such a good job...

All of my children, all of my grandchildren have received every one of their vaccines right on time, because I am confident that we have a very safe and effective childhood vaccine program."

Apr. 2009 - David Tayloe, MD 

Ari Brown, MD, FAAP, practicing pediatrician, stated the following in her Sep. 2008 article "Clear Answers & Smart Advice about Your Baby's Shots," available at

"As a doctor, I am greatly worried when parents decide to delay or not to vaccinate their child. That’s because vaccine-preventable diseases are real. I have watched a child die from a vaccine-preventable disease while I helplessly stood by. I've cared for several babies gasping for breath with whooping cough. These diseases kill children. Respect them. Last year alone vaccines prevented 14 million infections and 33,000 deaths in the U.S. Our grandparents remember diseases like polio. And how folks lined up to get vaccinated. Yet, you’ve probably never even heard of anyone with polio today. The great irony of vaccine success is that parents today are unfamiliar with the diseases they prevent.

In the past 10 years, I have seen two forms of bacterial meningitis basically disappear, thanks to vaccines. Before the HIB (Haemophilus influenzae type b) vaccine was developed, there were about 20,000 U.S. children a year who suffered or died from this infection. Now there are less than 200 cases per year. Before the pneumococcal conjugate vaccine, which protects against streptococcal meningitis, 17,000 American children per year had invasive infections with strep. And, about 200 kids died of this each year. Since vaccination, serious infections have been reduced by 90%. That’s pretty amazing...

Vaccines work. And they are safe."

Sep. 2008 - Ari Brown, MD 

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 

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 

Every Child By Two, a non-profit organization advocating universal childhood vaccination, stated the following in its Aug. 2004 report "Closing the Vaccination Gap: A Shot in the Arm for Childhood Immunization Programs," available at www.

"Although newborns receive antibodies from their mothers and therefore enjoy short-term immunity to many diseases, such immunity often lasts only a month and generally expires within a year. Moreover, mothers pass no protection to certain vaccine-preventable diseases, such as whooping cough.

Thus, to prevent large segments of the population from disease exposure, vaccination must occur at an early age. It is particularly crucial to immunize young children since their bodies are still developing, leaving them often incapable of fighting many diseases. Yet over 20 percent of pre-school children do not receive all needed vaccines, leaving them vulnerable to many vaccine-preventable diseases."

Aug. 2004 - Every Child By Two (ECBT) 

The World Chiropractic Alliance stated the following in its article "Vaccinations and Freedom of Choice in Health Care," available at (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, 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 (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., 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, 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 (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
"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 Sep. 3, 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

"[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 

Sherri Tenpenny, DO, Pesident and Medical Director of OsteoMed II, stated the following in her Sep. 14, 2005 publication "Vaccinations and the Right to Refuse," available at

"The risk of vaccination must be considered as important—and potentially more serious—than the risk of a childhood disease. Years of experience and thousands of hours of research have lead to conclusions that are not uniformly accepted: the importance of legally ensuring vaccine exemptions in each State and the right to refuse Nationally mandated vaccinations...

Humans are intrinsically healthy and tend to remain so if they are given nutritious, non-GMO foods, fresh air, and clean water. We have been blessed with God-given protective barriers against infectious diseases, including our skin and immune system...

[H]ow did we come to embrace the idea that injecting solutions of chemically-treated, inactivated viruses, parts of bacteria, traces of animal tissue and heavy metals, such as mercury and aluminum, was a reasonable strategy for keeping human beings—babies, children and adults—healthy?...

Parents, and all adults, must retain their right to refuse vaccines. They are not without risk, and those 'rare' complications can result in significant costs, both economic and in terms of human life...

When we give government the power to make medical decisions for us—and force us to vaccinate and medicate our children in the name 'health' and 'policy' and for 'the greater good' we, in essence, accept that the state owns our bodies, and, apparently, our children."

Sep. 14, 2005 - Sherri Tenpenny, DO 

Donald W. Miller, Jr., MD, Professor of Surgery at the University of Washington, stated the following in his Dec. 10, 2004 article "A User-Friendly Vaccination Schedule," available at

"Fifty years ago, when the immunization schedule contained only four vaccines (for diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, and smallpox), autism was virtually unknown... Today, one in every 68 American families has an autistic child… Four million American children have Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. One in six American children are now classified as 'Learning Disabled.'

Our children are also experiencing an epidemic of autoimmune disorders – Type I diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, asthma, and bowel disorders…

There is a growing body of evidence that implicates vaccines as a causative factor in the deteriorating health of children. The hypothesis that vaccines cause neurologic and immune system disorders is a legitimate one – vaccines given in multiple doses, close together, to very young children following the CDC’s Immunization Schedule. This hypothesis should be tested by a large-scale, long-term randomized controlled trial…

New knowledge in neuroimmunology (the study of how the brain’s immune system works) raises serious questions about the wisdom of injecting vaccines in children less than two years of age...

Parents should have the freedom to select whatever vaccination schedule they want their children to follow, especially since health care providers and the government (except via its Vaccine Injury Compensation Program) cannot be held accountable for any adverse outcomes that might occur."

Dec. 10, 2004 - Donald W. Miller, Jr., MD 

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