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Who should decide whether children get vaccinated - their parents or the state?

Why would someone refuse a vaccination?

Actually, maybe we should ask “Why wouldn’t somebody refuse a vaccination?” They may be unpleasant. They cost money. Oftentimes, they involve needles. Other popular but unfounded reasons: There’s “no evidence that they work” or they reportedly have “toxic side effects.”

Doctors and medical experts across the country overwhelmingly recommend that people get vaccinated for communicable diseases like the measles, whooping cough and the flu. But that’s the most doctors can do – recommend. For adults, getting vaccinated is a personal decision. The only time vaccinations are required is if someone is traveling abroad.

But how about for children and infants?

Nationally, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is the government agency that studies disease outbreaks, monitors how they spread over time and makes recommendations on how the public can stay healthy. It is part of the executive branch’s Department of Health and Human Services. Each state has its own department of health – in New Jersey, it’s the Department of Health and Senior Services.
They are required to get a certain battery of vaccinations before being allowed to enroll in the public school system, but all states have what are known as exemption laws. In all states, children can be exempted if a vaccination would cause allergic or adverse reactions. Parents can opt to refuse a vaccination for their children on religious grounds in 48 states – and proponents say the right of refusal is protected by the Constitution’s equal protection clause. Less common are exemptions based on personal belief – refusing vaccinations because you don’t want your kids to get them. Only 20 states allow them, and a state legislator this winter introduced a bill that would have included New Jersey. But the bill, introduced by Assemblywoman Charlotte Vandervalk, was shot down this month at a hearing by the Health and Senior Services Committee. Assemblyman Herb Conway, who chairs the committee, called it “a recipe for disaster.”

According to the Newark Star-Ledger, Vandervalk introduced the bill in response to a national debate over whether parents can decide if their children get vaccinated. In some cases, parents might regard vaccines with suspicion and wish to refuse them. A study in the 1990s claimed that certain vaccines caused autism in children – and even though the study has since been debunked, some still regard it as a legitimate fear. In other cases, they may just look for more control over how often a child is vaccinated.

Vandervalk told the Star-Ledger that babies are given 35 doses of vaccines by the time they reach 15 months of age. “That’s a heavy burden on a little baby,” she said “And if parents want to space it out a little bit, there’s no other procedure that we mandate. You’re putting toxic substances into a child’s body.”

But easing vaccination requirements could have dire effects. The state of California used to have looser laws regarding vaccination. But last fall, a whooping cough outbreak caused the deaths of 10 infants. The state responded by passing a law this January that requires all students to be vaccinated for the disease. Medical experts think more outbreaks may happen if more exemptions are allowed. Dean Blumberg, a California pediatrician interviewed by the Star-Ledger, said that “areas where there was a high number of personal belief exemptions were hardest hit.” Blumberg believes the ability of parents to refuse vaccines correlates with the spread of disease.

The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention takes a strong stance in favor of vaccination. On a section of its Web page dealing with exemptions to vaccinations, it says, “Given the increasing number of states allowing philosophical exemptions to vaccines, at some point we are going to be forced to decide whether it is our inalienable right to catch and transmit potentially fatal infections.”

What do you think?

Who should decide whether children get vaccinated – their parents or the state? Should the government be involved in decisions over whether children get vaccinated? Should parents be allowed to refuse vaccines, even if it puts their child and other children at risk? Join the discussion!
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Porterville/ CA
I am caught on both sides at this topic, mostly because if a parent doesn’t feel comfortable to vaccinate their child they have all their right to. But at the same time it depends on how the child is treated and if a baby can take so many vaccinations. There have been many controversies over vaccinations by saying that it doesn’t work. If it is true, then why do schools require that a child must have vaccinations to enter their school? It’s for precaution; would you feel comfortable to know that your child could be at risk for getting the measles and whooping cough just because one child wasn’t protected by a vaccination?

Richmond VA
Robius Middle School
I really think that there should be a law to make sure people get vaccines because im pretty sure they work and if they dont then whats the big deal? It wont make a difference.

Belleville/New York
Ms. Colby/Belleville Henderson Central School
Parents should be able to choose whether ther children get vaccinated, adults have the choice too so children should have the same option and as their parents who are the legal gaudian of said child. The state should not get involved with this unless the people not getting vaccinatied are causeing large groups of people to get very sick, then i feel the state may get involved becasue it becomes a state problem at that point.

jean coleman
no no one is legally required to have any vaccine in order to travel abroad

Watertown Ma
Erika Kelly
Mr. Rimas, WHS
The parents are responsible of what their kids inject into their body, especially since some kids have allergies to some vaccinations.The state should recommend the vaccination but they should not require it. If the parents feel their children should be vaccinated then they should vaccinate their kid. It is ideal to wait until they have a somewhat matured brain and body but it's the decision the parents have to make.

Sidney Montana
Ms. Fontana Sidney High School
I beleive that the parents should decide if there children should get vaccinations. I beleive this because children obviously will not do it and the parents would end up paying the hospital bills because the parents are responsible.

New York
Parents, of cause being they are the ones that has to suffer if their kids suffer a convulsion or a seizure do to a vaccination they received. And if there child dies or mentally handicap no one is held responsible. Parents should have the 100% rights on there child health.

isabella barber
winmalee high school
parents shoul decide

I think that the parents are not refusing on the vaccination. What they disagree is given the vaccine at too young age and wait until their child's brains a little more developed and mature at two or three years old. It is too sad to learn that in California whooping cough outbreak caused 10 infants death. My personal opinion is up to the parents and not at government decision the vaccination of their child at too youg age.

Haneen A
Mr.Frank/Northeast High
In my opinion,I believe the parent should decided whether or not their children get vaccinated.Children would say no,just because they are afraid of needles,or they think it is painful.Parents know their children better than the child knows their selves.Especially when it comes to health issues.If a child refused to get a vaccine and they get really sick,the blame would be put directly on the parents since they are older and wiser.For the child's health,the parents should choose.

Frank/northeast high school
In my opinion I think the parents should decide whether or not their children should get vaccinated. The parent always have the right to choose what is right or wrong for their children also the fact that they know better than anyone about their kids condition.I am postive no parent wants their kid to get injected to god knows what,its natural instinct to protect their own blood.remember that a lot of these kids who gets vaccinated get side effects too.So just think about it once again which parent on the planet earth would want to harm their own child?Also remember that some people do not have insurance that covers vaccination which means money out of their pockets which means more stress for them.

Christi V
Metzger/Montgomery High School
I think the parent should decide whether or not the child gets vaccinated. The parent knows if their child will have a reaction or maybe they just dont think it is right to stick their child. Some people also have religious beliefs that will not allow to put substances in the body. I think that if the parent wants to wait a few years for the child to get older to be vaccinated then it should not be an issue!

Sidney, MT
Sidney High School
I think that all children should be vaccinated. It is for the best to keep them safe and others safe from diseases. Yes the needles won't be the most comfortable thing but in the long run the vaccinations will help. If the vaccinations aren't required we could have outbreaks, just like with what happened in California. Children should have to get vaccinations to prevent outbreaks from possibly happening.

IRving/ Tx
Bradley/ NImitz
Parents should decide if their child should be vaccinated or not. Parents are fully aware of what their child might have chances of getting, and if they are a good parent they would not take the chance of their child getting any diseases and just getting the vaccination. Also, the school should still keep record of who has and who has not gotten any of the vaccinations, so that they will have an idea of who may of started an epidemic if there is one started and who is at risk of getting it.

Irving, TX
Andrea C
I think the decision to get vaccinated should be up to the parent. Most people already endure the hassle of getting shots just to be on the safe side. Who would want their child sick from a disease that could have been prevented initially? It is a tough call though, since some medicines are not necessarily safe for humans. It's almost a lose/lose situation. You either get a vaccination and hope for no side effects, or don't get one and suffer the consequences. I am definitely against the idea of it being a mandate though. People deserve the right to choose. After all, some cultures and belief systems clash with the idea of vaccinations.

Lisa P
I honestly think it should be a choice for citizens to get vaccinations. Although this might sound like I am untrustworthy of the government, but we honestly don't know what they are injecting into our bodies. Because their is no evidence these vaccinations work, I think we are just mindlessly trusting that they are for the "good of the people". As for the exemption laws, I believe there should be more exemptions made possible for people who are against them despite their religion. The people of the country should keep voting to have choices- not mandatory vaccines that most of us are uneducated about.

Grencastle, PA
Mrs. Hefner
Kids get vaccinated for a purpose and that’s to keep them healthy and live longer. There are people out there in the world that don’t get vaccines and they suffer the rest of their lives with diseases. Children don’t know what is going on at their age so they can’t make the choice for a vaccination. The government is worried about our health and I would be too. The parents I believe should have a major role in deciding whether or not their child should et vaccinated. According to http://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=21429 86% of the children of the United States have gotten their vaccine shots. This percentage I think is low because the health departments in this nation have done many things to try to prevent these diseases. We need to tell the people that a vaccination is too important to just let go.

Mrs. Campbell/North Star School
Involving the state in the vaccination of children worries me. If we involve them in this aspect of parenting, who is to say they won't take on more responsibility and try to parent more than govern? The parents should have the final say in when their child gets vaccinated as long as it is in accord with the reasonable requirements of the school.

Greencastle, Pennsylvania
April Seville
Greencastle-Antrim High School
I think parents should have the right to say when and when they do not want their children to get vaccinated and not the state. According to the CDC, all 50 states require vaccination for public schools. Even private schools should not require vaccination. Thus, denying someone from a private school just because they are not vaccinated is discrimination. It does not matter, because if there is an outbreak in a school with people that are vaccinated for the disease and people that are not; it will only effected the non-vaccinated people. So, it would not endanger the public if there is a school with both vaccinated and non-vaccinated people.

Jasmine P.
I think parents should have the right to say when and when they do not want their children to get vaccinated. Babies get really sick when they're vaccinated, and it makes me sad seeing a baby in pain. Kids should get vaccinated right before enrolling in school. That would be less painful to them.

Kimberly O.
Bradley/ Nimitz
I think the parents should decide whether or not their children should get all the vaccinations because a lot of the times doctors suggest things to give your children when they really do not need them. Parents should make the decision because if their child was allergic to the vaccination or had a problem because of it, the parents would have to spend even more money to take the child to the hospital or doctor, depending on how severe the problem was. If the parent thinks the child should not get the vaccination then the doctor should allow the child to leave without it.

Obviously the parents have the right to decide whether or not their children get vaccinated. It isn't the states right to decide what happens to the kids; it's not like they own them. The parents are their legal guardians, and should be given the right to do whatever they feel is better for their children, until the children reach adulthood, of course. The only establishments that should be involved in the decisions regarding vaccinations of children are private instutions; i.e. colleges. The fact that colleges contain thousands of different people from all over, and the need to vaccinate there is pressing, however it shouldn't be the government making that decision. Put it in the hands of the private business owners.

Indianapolis / IN
Robert S.
Singleton / Ben Davis High School
Infants and Young Children Should be required to get vaccinated by the state. Yes, the needles aren't the most pleasent thing to see or feel, but for the safety of everyone else in the state it should be required. With how more and more common diseases are becoming, many more young adults need to practice good hygeine and other healthy practices. If adults have the right to choose, and choose not to due to pay or for whatever reason, they could be jeopardizing hundreds of other young kids their child will eventually interact with!

Shelby Z.
I think that the state should decide if children get vaccinated. It does involve needles and is painful to some, but if it could help prevent an even more painful disease why not? Children should be vaccinated just to be safe, maybe it will prevent the disease maybe it wont but it does work for some. However, I do agree that children that may be allergic to the vaccinations be exempt from getting them because then it would be harming them instead of helping.

Mrs. Singleton/ben Davis High School
I believe that all children should be vaccinated, for the right things. When it comes to seasonly flu shots, we should have a direct choice whether to have our children or ourselves vaccinated. The government should impose vaccinations for things such as tuberculosis and measles can cause a vast amount of harm to the nation if they are not fought off by vaccines. If parents are truly concerned with the safety of their children they need to do the reserach it for themselves. Along with that subject, I would absolutely love to to see the hard scientific proof that certain shots cause autism. Parents that are that concerned with what is being put into their child should ask and ask again. All myths abotu vaccines would be put to rest if people would take the time to research.

Indpls. IN
Ms. Singleton
I feel that the family should have the final decision because they are responsible for the child.

Singleton/Ben Davis
The government should be involved in vaccination decisions because students with various diseases or illnesses, especially in large public schools, can infect other students. If parents had the choice whether or not to vaccinate their children, many would probably choose not to due to the cost. The government requiring students to be vaccinated may seem almost like an unfunded mandate to individual families, but it would cost a lot more time and money if a serious disease broke out.

Rudyard/ MT
Mrs. Campbell/ North Star
The government is correct about requiring children to be vaccinated. If Childrends parents refuse there kids to have vaccines there are not only putting there child in danger but everyone around them as well. in my oppinion the state should have a bigger say in vaccinations and not allow all the exemptions on the more majore disseases.

I believe that anything that goes into your body you should be able to choose if you want it or not and if they bring the whole your a "minor" then yes your family should choose. My school said that if we didnt get a certain vaccination then we couldn't come to school until we got it. I refused to get it and ended up saying I wouldn't get it because of religous reasons just to stay in school. What has the world come to?

Boothbay ME
Ms. Sirois Boothbay Region High School
I feel that any family should have a right to decide if they want their child to get a vaccination or not. If the state said that my child needed a vaccination, I wouldn't trust them. The only time I would was if my child's own doctor called me and brought him in for a check-up and then told me the results said that he needed a vaccination.

Boothbay Harbor Maine
Ms. Sirois Boothbay Region High School
I think the state has no right to be able to tell a family that a child needs to get a vaccination. For some reasons, it may go against their religion, or maybe, the family doesnt want their child to get it. I think that if the family wants their child to get vaccinated, they will. If not, its none of their buisness.

Mirna L.
Bradley/Nimitz HS
I think that all children should be vaccinated against serious diseases, like measles or chicken pox, but maybe leave the decision for cold vaccinations for the parents. I don't think it's fair that just because some parents don't think vaccinations work, they can put other children at risk. The only reason I see for babies and children to not get vaccinated is if it was proven by their doctors that the vaccinations could cause them to have an allergic reaction.

I think that all children should have vaccinations regardless of religious beliefs, and parental opinions. If children without proper vaccinations come to school, they could infect others. It is much to complicated to not give vaccinations, all kinds of new medical records would have to be kept. If vaccinations didn't work, or were toxic, we wouldn't have them. We have vaccinations for a reason.

Irving Tx
Baldemar M.
Bradley/ NImitz High School
I believe if a person receives government aid form the government they should have no option if their child receives a vaccination; if the parent dose not like it will the aid should be taken away for good. Not vaccinating many children has caused many more deaths and more money lost to the government aid agencies who must give medication to the diseased children who's diseased could have been prevented by having the child vaccinated. State government do not have the right to pass a law eather way on individuals for it is the parent that knows whats best for their child. Eather way things can lead to many protest and more government problems, but the state government has the right and should have the right to say to parents “Sorry your child has no protection against some diseases he might have a disease and he can endanger the health of others so he can not attend public school.” All private school who receive government benefits should also have no right to refuse government regulation if they desire to continue receiving government aid.

Irving/ Texas
LaTisha V.
Bradley/ NImitz High School
It is absolutely ridiculous for a parent to refuse getting their child vaccinated. By not getting vaccinated a child can become ill and also cause illness towards other children. I think that it should be up to the state on whether children should be vaccinated or not. Parents should not be allowed to refuse getting their children vaccinated if their child could possibly harm other children because of it.

Bradley/Nimitz HS
After only reading the title of this article, my immediate thought was “Well of course it's the right of the parent to decide whether their child gets a vaccination or not!”. Parents should be able to have full rights over their own child, making decisions where the deem necessary and looking out for their child's best interest. However, parents who choose not to give their children vaccinations are causing more people to be susceptible to a number of diseases that could otherwise be prevented. Therefore, I believe that the state should be able to decide whether or not vaccinations are necessary.

Montcalm, WV
Montcalm H.S.
Government often over steps its power thereby intruding on we the peoples rights. However when parents choose not to have their darling vaccinated that decision has the potential to impact the lives of many i.e. killing many. The State it seems to me exist to protect its citizens. When parents fail to consider others in their decision then it seems appropriate for the State to do so.

Brittany P
Bradley/Nimitz High School
This is definitely a tough one and not a subject I would have particularly taken a stance on beforehand. Although I am all for parents having the majority of the control over their children, I do think this is an exception where the state(s) should have the power to step in. Considering diseases are easily spread and does not only affect a certain family or group then the state should decide which vaccinations are required and which vaccinations the parents can decide. Parents should not be allowed to refuse vaccinations that are required by the schools, under any circumstance. If this were the case, then disease would spread more rapidly than it ever had before.

Philadelphia Pa
Ms.Agnew/Overbrook High School
I think the parents should decide on the vaccination. The state should not really have the right. It is the parent's job to to decide . But if a parent really does not have the money and require the state then to pay then it will be cool . In school parents could refuse a vaccination for their child though.

Philadelphia PA
Ms.Agnew /Overbrook High School
I think the parents should decide. Some people do not have that kind of money. Another reason, a parent knows their child more then anybody else. Another reason, some kids take the vaccine and still get stick. Sometimes the vaccine can be harmful to a child or infant.

Seattle WA
Candy j
K Hansen/HRC Seattle
I strongly believe we the people have a choice on which we can refuse certain ideas. I think Vaccinations should be a choice considering the amount of liability based on the outcome of it. It might be hazardous to some people with a certain diesease or health issue. The Government could be doing more harm than help.

Greencastle, PA
Greencastle- Antrim HS
It is clear that parents have a constitutional right to refuse the vaccination of their children. So, thus, it should be illegal for public schools to require vaccination. According to the CDC, all 50 states require vaccination for public schools. Even private schools should not require vaccination. Thus, denying someone from a private school just because they are not vaccinated is discrimination. It does not matter, because if there is an outbreak in a school with people that are vaccinated for the disease and people that are not; it will only effected the non-vaccinated people. So, it would not endanger the public if there is a school with both vaccinated and non-vaccinated people. A stud

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