It seems reasonable to state that vaccination is an essential foundation for the health of the nation. This statement is especially relevant when it comes to the entrance of public schools by children who are vulnerable to various diseases. In order to prevent the spread of different viruses and their development within children’s bodies, it might be assumed that vaccination should be mandatory within the context given, which will be justified below.
Rationale Regarding Why Vaccinations Should Be Mandatory for Children Entering Public Schools
The principle of the vaccine is straightforward: a weakened virus/bacterium or its components is introduced into the human body. After this, the immune system tends to react naturally, remembering the aggressor, as well as getting rid of it more appropriately during next occurrences. Not all vaccines provide one hundred percent protection against infections, but this does not mean that such vaccinations are not needed. Even if a disease arises, a person will tolerate it more easily (McMillan). This, for instance, concerns BCG, which is often called the tuberculosis vaccine: the vaccine does not protect against infection, but it makes it easier to transfer it if a person is already sick.
The anti-vaccine movement was born with the spread of vaccination – in the early 19th century – as a manifestation of fear of new incomprehensible interventions in the body. Further, the movement was not particularly popular. In order to understand why, one can ask older relatives about their childhood. Their peers fell ill with polio, measles, diphtheria; they were scared to go to school, vaccines seemed like salvation. Now, thanks to vaccination, they are much less likely to get sick, and it is no longer obvious for young people why vaccinations are needed.
The main argument of supporters of the anti-vaccine movement: vaccination destroys immunity. But, firstly, science does not know the possible mechanism of “undermining immunity” with the help of vaccinations, and secondly, such a process should be accompanied by severe, difficult-to-treat diseases and constant hospitalizations. However, there is no increase in the number of real immunodeficiencies in society. Most of these claims by opponents of vaccination are shattered by scientific evidence and have been repeatedly refuted by advocates of evidence-based medicine (Savulescu 49).
However, any parent who is told that vaccinations are the death of the immune system will inevitably wonder whether it is worth putting their child at risk. And yet, from time to time, the spread of anti-vaccination sentiments leads to outbreaks of diseases that have already begun to be considered as disappearing. As a result, not only children whose parents refused to be vaccinated die but also those who were not vaccinated for medical reasons or due to age (Drew).
Vaccination is the only way to protect a child from many dangerous (and sometimes deadly) infections. Many parents are afraid of complications after vaccinations, but the risk of complications from previous infections is many times higher. If to talk about complications after vaccinations, then one needs to distinguish between unwanted side effects and really real complications. The side effects are usually easy for the child and go away quickly. Usually, complications can be avoided; the child can be prepared for vaccination, taking into account his or her anamnesis, existing diseases, allergies.
Colic, umbilical hernia, and other comparable conditions should be considered as irrational reasons for rejecting vaccinations that do not have any scientific basis. Most denials are made because of old stereotypes or because doctors follow the lead of parents. Perhaps the fact is that doctors cannot or are too lazy to justify their positions. All conditions due to which vaccination is not allowed give symptoms that are easily detected by examining (Drew). It seems important to emphasize here that vaccine components represent only a small fraction of the viruses and bacteria that children have to deal with, even when they are at home. That is, there is no question of any overload of the immune system during vaccination.
Of course, there are times when it is better to postpone vaccination. This is an acute condition in case of allergies (during the period of remission, vaccination for allergy sufferers is not just possible but should be done), high fever, ARVI, and some neurological diseases.
A separate case when vaccination is recommended to be postponed is the presence of benign neutropenia in a child under one year old (McMillan). This state is associated with the adaptation of the child to our urban conditions, modern loads, manifested by the fact that an insufficient number of neutrophils is observed in the blood test. Moreover, this amount does not fit into the norm or in the state of illness but is in the average value. In such a situation, it is better not to load the body. Additionally, its immune forces are now already weakened, and all these forces are aimed at adapting to the environment.
Recently, there has been a significant legal decision in Europe that reflects this research’s position to a great extent. The European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) has ruled that compulsory vaccination is permissible. This final decision was made by the Grand Chamber of 17 judges of the ECtHR on April 8 (Ang and Wellington). Czech families opposed the compulsory vaccination of children. The ECtHR believes that such mandatory immunization is in the “best interests of children” and that the Czech government’s policy does not violate the European Convention on Human Rights (in particular, the right to respect for private life). According to ECtHR judges, every child should be protected from serious diseases through vaccination or collective immunity.
The purpose of immunization is to protect every child from serious diseases, which in most cases is achieved through a full schedule of vaccinations. Those who are contraindicated due to health conditions are indirectly protected as long as the required level of vaccination coverage is maintained in society. Therefore, when voluntary vaccination policies are insufficient to achieve and sustain collective immunity, or collective immunity does not help due to the nature of the disease, national authorities may reasonably implement a mandatory vaccination policy to achieve adequate protection against serious diseases. Regarding the non-admission of unvaccinated children to educational institutions, the judges noted that these measures are protective, not punitive (Miller). The latter statement might be considered as a foundation for mandatory vaccination for children entering public schools.
To conclude, the research above showed that vaccinations provide significant benefits for children’s health. Moreover, this practice prevents a plethora of viruses and their spread, which is critical for public schools. There has been a notable case in Europe that reveals that the developed countries are on their way to make vaccination mandatory, and such an approach should be considered relevant and rational.
Ang, Terry, and Victoria Wellington. “ECHR Rules Compulsory Vaccinations for Children Does not Violate Human Rights.” Jurist. 2021. Web.
Drew, Liam. The Case for Mandatory Vaccination. Nature. 2019. Web.
McMillan, Anne. “Mandatory Vaccination: Legal, Justified, Effective?” International Bar Association. 2021. Web.
Miller, Hugo. “Mandatory Vaccines for Czech Schoolkids Approved by European Court.” Bloomberg. 2021. Web.
Savulescu, Julian. “Good Reasons to Vaccinate: Mandatory or Payment for Risk?” Journal of Medical Ethics, vol. 47, no. 2, 2020, pp. 48–85.