“Free Riders” Who Benefit From Herd Immunity But Do Not Receive Vaccines Themselves





“Free Riders” Who Benefit From Herd Immunity But Do Not Receive Vaccines Themselves

Vaccine exemption laws in public schools raise many ethical questions concerning the rights of the parties who are against and for the rule. The ease with which parents are able to obtain exemptions results in raised concern on the health status of children in public schools and calls for the tightening of philosophical exclusions. Both the law and ethics have varying opinions concerning this issues of which have to be evaluated with relevant data and facts including recent cases concerning immunization exemptions. Understanding the states reasoning behind the vaccination exemptions and requirements, assist in weighing the implications of the vaccination.

According to the Food and Drug Administration, there are no vaccination laws and it works by ensuring there is adequate supply of vaccines to children admitted in public schools. Thereby, parents are not forced to allow their children to receive vaccination and they are allowed to object such moves. All the states in the country permitted medical vaccination exemptions in certain situations. These include instances of allergy to certain vaccine combinations, immune disorders, and cancer. These medical necessities and contraindications in the use of vaccines are made as they could lead to detrimental effects. Furthermore, parents could obtain non-medical exemptions and personal belief exemptions. However, the channels for obtaining these exemptions vary from one state to another (Vara). Some states embrace simpler methods of obtaining exemptions such as writing a personal letter explaining the reasons for the refusal of the vaccine or by signing a pre-written declaration on a school inoculation form. Contrary to such approaches, other states only allow exemptions when they are backed up by a medical report with the intention of ensuring that parents are not utilizing the exemptions to their personal advantage.

Nonetheless, resistance by parents concerning vaccination of their children is agreeably a personal choice but the reality of the nature dictates a rather dangerous situation. The decision to remain deliberately unvaccinated could result in dangerous situations in public schools and even cause death among individuals who are medically exempted from inoculation. Such people not only pose a danger to the unvaccinated individuals but also to those who have already been immunized. Such situations are evidenced by the increase in spread of diseases that could have been otherwise contained through vaccination. Measles is an acute viral and highly contagious disease that could be fatal in case of complications in the course of treatment. Recently, 159 people between the ages of 0 to 61 were reported of having been infected with the disease (“Measles-United States” 1). Among them, 84% were unvaccinated and most of them were due to personal objections. The remaining 16% had been immunized, thereby providing a clear indication of how both unvaccinated and inoculated individuals are affected by the presence of the vaccine-defiant citizens (“Measles-United States” 1).

As much as parents have the legal right to obtain exemptions, the approach breaches moral rights to certain degrees. Moral rights involve rules applied in the society of which are indepemndent of any factors but ethically appropriate (Tännsjo 79). According to the law, no parent is forced to have their children vaccinated and such a decision is solely dependent on their personal considerations. However, exposing other children to the possibility of contracting diseases is entirely immoral. The purpose of advocating vaccines is to reduce the infections and spread of common communicable diseases. In the case of medical exemptions, accepting the decision is rather vital and normal. Apparently, it is unreasonable to deject the inoculation of children while exposing the vaccinated children to the possibility of acquiring such diseases. Therefore, moral rights dictate that the law protecting non-medical vaccine exemptions should be reviewed in order to reduce further outbreaks of other diseases.


Works Cited

Vara, Christine. “Where Does Your State Stand on School Immunization Exemptions?” Short of Prevention. The Inove Theme, 22 Feb. 2012. Web. 30 Sept. 2014.

Tännsjo Torbjörn. Understanding Ethics: An Introduction to Moral Theory. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2008. Print.

“Measles-United States, January 1–August 24, 2013.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 13 Sept. 2013. Web. 30 Sept. 2014.



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