She said/she said: Should mandatory vaccinations exist?: Yes

Julia Coccaro

Some of the most significant qualms people have with mandatory vaccinations are centered around morality. For some, such as the Church of Illumination and Universal Family Church, vaccinations infringe upon constitutionally-protected religious freedoms. To many, it is more general: the government should not have the authority to intervene neither in a parent’s method of raising their child nor in anyone’s personal medical choices. As a staunch pro-choice activist, I agree with the latter sentiment; however, this particular choice isn’t personal—it’s public.

Community immunity, or “herd immunity,” is a concept meaning when a critical portion (the percentage of those who must be vaccinated in order to provide this herd immunity) of the population is vaccinated against a contagious disease, it is unlikely that an outbreak of this disease will occur, so the majority of the members of the community will be protected. This is important for certain groups who not only are not, but cannot be vaccinated due to age, poor health, pregnancy, etc. Thus, when a parent chooses not to vaccinate their child for the sake of that child’s “health” and “safety,” they are in reality endangering the health and safety of those who are unwillingly susceptible to these contagious diseases and rely on herd immunity to stay alive.

Another common argument against mandatory vaccinations is their artificiality. While it’s true that natural immunity lasts longer in some cases than vaccine-induced immunity can, the risks of natural infection outweigh the risks of immunization for every recommended vaccine.

Additionally, to minimize the effectiveness of vaccines due to their manmade properties is to dismiss the positive impacts of essentially all of Western medicine, from aspirin to chemotherapy, which all carry miniscule risks equivalent to those of vaccinations (which, as we have seen in the recent discourse regarding mandatory vaccinations, are comparatively broadcasted as far more alarming).

As Swati explains, there is overwhelming evidence that vaccines are safe, effective, and absolutely necessary. While personal freedoms are important and fundamental to our American identity, it is imperative that we set aside our individual grievances and attachments when others’ lives are at stake.