Vaccines have saved millions and have eradicated diseases, yet “vaccine hesitancy” is spreading like an epidemic, except this one can’t be prevented by a needle in the arm. Getting vaccinated is not only easily accessible but affordable too. Parental refusal to vaccinate their children can be sorted in separate categories: personal reasons, religious reservations, philosophical ideologies, and safety concerns.
Vaccinations do come with risks, however they have the ability to save countless lives. Anna Komissarova says, “so many other countries don’t have vaccinations, but we have access to them, and I think that not using the opportunity to immunize oneself is a waste of resources that could save others lives.” Having a bad history with vaccinations can motivate people to negate the value of having children vaccinated. Some argue that newborns are administered with too many vaccines which could potentially compromise their immune system and cause autism. However, myriad studies have since refuted their claims. So why are people still hesitant towards vaccines?
Parents around the globe are seeking a legal way to avoid vaccination. Stating religious restrictions is allowing them to do so, whether their claims holds truth or not, is the cause of outbreaks around the world that could have been precluded. Lily Williams says, “I think it is unethical of the parent to deprive their children of western medicine because it can not only endanger their children, but others as well.” Refusing vaccination is not a show of one’s dedication to their religion. There are other ways in which that same goal can be achieved but in a more effective and beneficial way. “Some parents believe strongly in the tradition of their religion, but new traditions and technology are important too. Although religion is important, it is based helping each other, and in the modern times, there are new ways to do that, so why not help each other using the same principles but with new technology,” says Anna Komissarova.
Respecting an individual’s rights and freedoms while ensuring public safety is a difficult situation. All the government requires a parent to do in order to prevent their children from getting vaccination is checking off a box. Now avoiding vaccinations is proving to be as easy as getting them — nothing further is addressed or investigated which makes drawing the line in the sand extremely tough. Esha Chinchankar believes that, “getting vaccinated is so easy and convenient, it doesn’t take much time, and it saves lives. Why would a parent deny that to their own child?” This calls into question whether it is ethical for parents to determine such an important decision for their children. Young adults should be permitted to make their own decisions regarding vaccinations. In this era teenagers are more informed and involved, so should they have to wait until they are eighteen to get vaccinated?
Graphic: Photo of Ethan Lindenberger obtained from motherjones.com