Vaccine Exemptions


Vaccine Exemptions




Vaccine Exemptions

Laws pertaining to vaccine exemptions have raised ethical concerns, especially in public schools. Vaccine exemptions refer to legalized exclusions from vaccination among children and even adults due to personal or religious beliefs. Currently, the number of children receiving exemptions from immunization has decreased considerably due to the lessened legal issues involving vaccine immunizations. However, proponents to vaccine exemptions indicate that every parent has the right to control their children’s medical care. Moreover, they argue that despite the decrease in immunization rates, children, and the entire community is protected from illnesses through herd immunity. The health status of most children in public schools is put at risk with the possibility of getting diseases that could have earlier been prevented through immunization. From an ethical perspective, however, moral rights dictate what is right and what is wrong. Thereby, it creates an implication that allowing exemptions in vaccination is not ethically correct concerning moral rights (Tännsjö, 2008). Legalization of vaccine exemptions among public school-going children is immoral and the situation calls for strict philosophical exclusions.

It is mandatory for every school-going child, especially in public schools to be vaccinated though their parents are allowed to make exemptions upon certification. Through the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), schools receive adequate vaccination in public schools. The exemptions made vary depending on the reason behind the exclusion as some children react to the chemical combinations of the vaccine. Other medical reasons include children suffering from cancer and immune disorders that could result in detrimental effects once they are administered. Furthermore, there are non-medical reasons for exclusions, which occur upon the parents’ decision to do so. Notably, different states have different rules pertaining to the channels for acquiring vaccine exclusions. Just as Vara (2012)states, there are other states that offer easier channels of obtaining exclusions, which are done through writing letters indicating the parents’ reasons. Other states require a pre-written declaration in a school’s inoculation form whereas other studies are rigid to these laws and only allow exemptions, which are backed up by medical reports.

However, the country reports of a reduced rate in vaccination in the country compared to the past years. Resistance by parents towards vaccination has increased with the increase in laws pertaining to vaccine exclusions (Esquivel & Poindexter, 2014). Agreeably, the decision to exclude one’s child from vaccination is a personal issue but the reality of the matter exposes the community to possible detrimental health risks. The situation exposes not only the non-inoculated public school children to health risks but also those who have already been vaccinated. Factual evidence behind such occurrences is the increase in spreading of an ailment that could have otherwise been contained through inoculation. Measles is a highly viral disease that could result in fatal incidences if it goes untreated. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2013), 159 people were infected with the disease between 0 to 61 ages. Among these people, 84% were unvaccinated while 16% were immunized. Furthermore, the unvaccinated individuals were due to exclusions and not due to lack of adequate vaccines. Vara (2012) also indicates that cases of whooping cough appeared to increases in states that had lessened policies concerning vaccination exclusions.

Despite the parental reasons to advocate exemptions towards vaccination in the children, they should understand that the decision not only affects them but the entire community. Public schools have children from different backgrounds of which some might or might not allow them to be vaccinated. Claims behind exemptions from inoculation might be religious or even personal. Proponents of exclusions from inoculation suggest that despite not having received actual doses, their children and the community are protected due to herd immunity. Nonetheless, such should not be relied upon due to the evidenced rise in measles and whooping cough due to lack of being vaccinated. Additionally, moral rights suggest that every person should aim towards activities that benefit the community, be ethically appropriate and independent of any factors. According to the law, there are no restrictions on personal decision to be vaccinated. However, such parents should understand that they are exposing other children in public schools as well as their own children to diseases that could have previously been vaccinated. Therefore, strict measures should be put in place to lessen vaccine exemption cases in order to protect other public school children from being infected with diseases.



Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2013, September 13). Measles-United States, January 1–August 24, 2013. Retrieved from

Esquivel, P. & Poindexter, S. (2014, September 2). Plunge in kindergarten vaccination rate worries health officials. Los Angeles Times. Retrieved from

Tännsjö, T. (2008). Understanding ethics: An introduction to moral theory. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.

Vara, C. (2012, February 22). Where Does Your State Stand on School Immunization Exemptions? Short of Prevention. Retrieved from

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