As children many of us dreaded going over to the immunization center. That small state issued card in your parent’s hand meant you were about to get another school mandated shot. We were told that we couldn’t attend school if our immunizations weren’t up to date, but that has changed for many whose parents fear the side effects of immunization.
Today, many children attend school without ever being immunized. Is it safe for children to attend school with others who haven’t received immunizations? Are immunizations themselves safe? Uncertainty about the topic has led to many heated debates, with some parents afraid to immunize their children and others afraid to let their children attend school.
After many steady years, immunization became a hot topic when an outbreak of measles spread across 17 U.S. states this year. Schools had no choice but to provide notices to parents that their children could have been exposed to the disease, and were at risk especially if they had not been immunized.
According to the New York Times, laws that allow parents to opt out of immunization are also coming under scrutiny. Experts say that the government can police immunizations further, because the authority to require vaccination belongs to the states, something the Supreme Court decided on in Jacobson v. Massachusetts in 1905.
“Each individual state really has complete power, says Lawrence O. Gostin an expert in public health law and the faculty director of the O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law at Georgetown University.
How does the state determine immunization law? They traditionally follow the recommendations made by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Currently all 50 states require that children receive a certain schedule of vaccinations before they start preschool or school unless the child has a medical condition – like an immune disorder or cancer – that would make vaccination risky, according to the New York Times.
Nytimes.com: “Vaccinations Are States’ Call.” New York Times
Jacobson V. Massachusetts, 197 U.S. 11 (1905)
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