Last updated on: 3/19/2019 8:48:19 AM PST

Should Any Vaccines Be Required for Children?



General Reference (not clearly pro or con)
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 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 



PRO (yes)

Saad Omer, MPH, PhD, William H. Foege Professor of Global Health at Emory Vaccine Center, in a Mar. 5, 2019 written testimony, "Hearing Title: 'Vaccines Save Lives: What Is Driving Preventable Disease Outbreaks' - March 05, 2019," available at help.senate.gov, stated:

"A national outbreak, or an outright national-level measles resurgence, would not be out of the ordinary for a Western country. In recent years, there have been several large sustained outbreaks in Europe… It’s not just luck that the United States hasn’t seen a similar resurgence. There are many things the United States does right in vaccine policy, compared to Europe. For example, the United States has a tapestry of school-entry vaccine requirements that work. These requirements, based in state laws, have contributed to maintaining high immunization rates and keeping rates of vaccine noncompliance low… Mandates have played a key role in keeping disease rates low."

Mar. 5, 2019 - Saad B. Omer, MPH, PhD 



Jonathan A. McCullers, MD, Chair of the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center, in Mar. 5, 2019 written testimony, "United States Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions 'Vaccines Save Lives: What is Driving Preventable Disease Outbreaks?,'" available at help.senate.gov, stated:

"The rate of parents claiming non-medical exemptions to vaccines is 2.5 times higher in states that allow both religious and philosophical exemptions compared to religious exemptions alone – evidence that allowing multiple pathways to exemption worsens this problem... Vaccine refusal is one of the growing public health threats of our time. If we continue to allow non-medical exemptions to vaccination, rates of vaccination will continue to fall and more outbreaks will undoubtedly follow."

Mar. 5, 2019 - Jonathan A. McCullers, MD 



Sarah Davis, JD, Texas State Representative (R), in a Jan. 17, 2017 article, "Davis: Why the Debate? Vaccines Do Work," available at the Houston Chronicle website, stated:

"The state [Texas] mandates childhood vaccines for enrollment in our schools because all children should have the opportunity to be educated in a safe and healthy environment. A twisted concept of parental personal liberty should not risk the health and safety of millions of schoolchildren... Cancers that are preventable should be prevented. Viruses that are preventable should be eradicated. And the safety and efficacy of vaccines are no longer subject to serious debate. They work, and Texas must make sure more of our citizens are immunized against preventable diseases."

Jan. 17, 2017 - Sarah M. Davis, JD 



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 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 



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 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 



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 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 



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 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 Boxer's Senate website, 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 - Barbara Boxer 
Dianne Feinstein 



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 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 



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 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 



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 



CON (no)

Rand Paul, MD, former ophthalmologist and US Senator (R-KY), in a Mar. 5, 2019 Senate hearing, "Vaccines Save Lives: What Is Driving Preventable Disease Outbreaks?," available at help.senate.gov, stated:

"[M]any governments have taken to mandating a whole host of vaccines, including vaccines for non-lethal diseases. Sometimes these vaccine mandates have run amok as when the government mandated a rotavirus vaccine that was later recalled because it was causing intestinal blockage in children. I'm not a fan of government coercion, yet, given the choice, I do believe the benefits of most vaccines vastly outweigh the risks… Each year, before that year's flu strain is known, the scientists put their best guess into that year's vaccine. Some years it's completely wrong. We vaccinate for the wrong strand, the wrong strain of flu vaccine. Yet five states already mandate flu vaccines. Is it really appropriate to mandate a vaccine that more often than not vaccinates for the wrong flu strain? As we contemplate forcing parents to choose this or that vaccine, I think it's important to remember that force is not consistent with the American story, nor is force consistent with the liberty our forefathers sought when they came to America. I don't think you have to have one or the other, though. I'm not here to say don't vaccinate your kids. If this hearing is for persuasion I’m all for the persuasion. I vaccinated myself and I vaccinated my kids. For myself and my children I believe that the benefits of vaccines greatly outweigh the risks, but I still don't favor giving up on liberty for a false sense of security."

Mar. 5, 2019 - Rand Paul, MD 



The Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS), in a Feb. 26, 2019 letter written by Jane M. Orient, MD, Executive Director of AAPS, "Statement on Federal Vaccine Mandates," available at aapsonline.org, stated:

"The Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS) strongly opposes federal interference in medical decisions, including mandated vaccines. After being fully informed of the risks and benefits of a medical procedure, patients have the right to reject or accept that procedure… Measles is a vexing problem, and more complete, forced vaccination will likely not solve it. Better public health measures—earlier detection, contact tracing, and isolation; a more effective, safer vaccine; or an effective treatment are all needed. Meanwhile, those who choose not to vaccinate now might do so in an outbreak, or they can be isolated. Immunosuppressed patients might choose isolation in any event because vaccinated people can also possibly transmit measles even if not sick themselves.

AAPS believes that liberty rights are unalienable. Patients and parents have the right to refuse vaccination, although potentially contagious persons can be restricted in their movements (e.g. as with Ebola), as needed to protect others against a clear and present danger. Unvaccinated persons with no exposure to a disease and no evidence of a disease are not a clear or present danger."

Feb. 26, 2019 - Association of American Physicians and Surgeons, Inc. (AAPS) 



Mississippi Parents for Vaccine Rights (MPVR) in an undated article accessed on Jan. 19, 2017, "A Note to Legislators," available at the MPVR website, stated:

"Vaccination is a one-size-fits-all GOVERNMENT PROGRAM that has grown out of control. Our children receive 49 doses of 15 vaccines before kindergarten! Children received just 10-12 vaccines during a lifetime in the 1980s. The current vaccine schedule has never once been tested as it is administered to our children… Bureaucrats at the Health Department do no know our children, have never seen our children, yet have tyrannical power over their care regarding vaccines... We are not asking the state to decide if shots are good or bad or safe or unsafe. We are asking those of you who represent the people of Mississippi to restore our fundamental parental right to make medical decisions for our own children."

Jan. 19, 2017 - Mississippi Parents for Vaccine Rights (MPVR) 



Jack Wolfson, DO, cardiologist at Wolfson Integrative Cardiology, in a Jan. 29, 2015 CNN interview, "Watch Doctors Have Heated Debate over Vaccination," available at 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 the World Chiropractic Alliance website (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 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 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 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 - Helen Bedford, PhD 
David Elliman, MBBS 



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 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 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 



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 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