The issue of childhood vaccines has become highly controversial over the past few years. Started by a fabricated study linking vaccination to autism, public anxiety and fear associated with vaccinating their children has led to raising number of parents choosing to opt out vaccination due to their religious and philosophical beliefs. In some areas whole communities decide not vaccinate children which raises the risk of outbursts of serious and potentially deadly diseases. Taking into account numerous scientific studies reporting low or no risk associated with vaccination, the importance of protecting public health and not allowing certain individuals to place others under involuntary risk, and the fact that public opinion regarding vaccines is formed largely by cultural biases, making vaccines mandatory constitutes a rational strategy for preventing dangerous and contagious diseases.
Song, Geoboo, Silva, Carol L., Jenkins-Smith, Hank C. “Cultural Worldview and Preference for Childhood Vaccination Policy.” The Policy Studies Journal, vol. 42, no. 4, 2014, 528-554.
The article presents a study of public opinion regarding the existing child vaccination policies. The authors sought to examine whether people’s worldview, opinion on other political matters, and social identification would be predictive of their views regarding what child vaccination policies should be like. The study recruited more than a thousand of Americans who passed the online survey. The obtained results confirmed the study hypothesis and found that people’s opinions regarding child vaccination could be predicted by their cultural biases and social identifications. Namely, hierarchs and egalitarians are more likely to support mandatory vaccination with religious or philosophical exceptions, while individualists and fatalists tend to oppose mandatory vaccination and leave the choice about vaccinating a child to parents. Interestingly, the study found that public opinion regarding child vaccination was based merely on beliefs and opinions people had concerning the societal benefits and risks, but to a large extant on confrontation of opinions different groups have regarding other issues. It seems that public ignorance towards the potential benefits and risks regarding vaccination allows public officials to create a vaccination policy that would yield the most societal benefits and the list risks based on available scientific evidence.
Salisbury, David M. “Should childhood vaccination be mandatory? No.” British Medical Journal, 344, 2012.
This article is an opinion piece on the issue or mandatory vaccination. The author argues that while maintaining high convergence of vaccination is crucial for preventing serious and potentially deadly illnesses, the vaccination should not be mandatory. The author opposes mandatory vaccination as they believe cohesion to be incompatible with democracy and personal freedom. At the same time, high convergence of vaccinated people can be achieved without cohesive policies, the author argues, and offers examples of countries with no mandatory vaccination policies that managed to sustain high levels of convergence. While it is easy to relate to the argument presented in this opinion piece as, probably, all of us are sensitive towards the matters of personal freedom, it seems that someone’s refusal to vaccinate may place other members of society under involuntary risks which is not acceptable. High degree of personal freedom exercised in western societies depends upon certain prohibitions, like prohibition to steal and kill. The issue of vaccination is thus more a matter of personal and public safety and not a matter of restricting personal freedom.
Brunson, Emily K., Sobo, Elisa J. “Framing Childhood Vaccination in the United States: Getting Past Polarization in the Public Discourse.” Human Organization, vol. 76, no. 1, 38-47.
The article reports on anthropological qualitative study examining public discourse and private opinnions regarding vaccination. Having conducted a number of open ended interviews with American adults, the author concludes that people’s opinions and anxieties regarding child vaccination are very diverse and do not fall into the polarized pro and against positions. At the same time, however, media tend to report on this matter as if it were a debate of opposing views while in real life the beliefs are much more diverse. Hence, the author emphasizes the need to listen to and consider what fears, anxieties, and concerns to people have associated with vaccination and address them instead engaging in grand narrative either pro and against the vaccination.
Offit, Paul A. “Should childhood vaccination be mandatory? Yes.” British Medical Journal, 344, 2012.
This is an opinion piece arguing for the mandatory vaccination of children against serious and potentially deadly illnesses. The author points to the fact that the use of vaccines is supported but extensive scientific evidence as well as the decrease in the spread of certain diseases since the vaccines were introduced. Further, there is not scientifically proven evidence against vaccination, even though this misleading information is constantly publicized be media. All in all, the author argues that society should rely on science and make vaccination mandatory as no one should be able to make a call on the safety of other people by refusing to vaccinate. This argument is also supported by the facts that the majority of people do not invest an appropriate amount of time and effort to make an informed decision about whether or not to vaccinate leaving much room for opinion speculation while this mattes is way too serious for such attitude.
Song, Geoboo. “Understanding Public Perception of Benefits and Risks of Childhood Vaccinations in the United States.” Risk Analysis, vol. 34, no. 3, 2014, 541-555.
The article reports on a study of public opinion on childhood vaccination among Americans. The researcher surveyed twelve hundreds Americans and found certain correlations between social characteristics and opinions regarding the child vaccination. Namely, individuals who have greater trust of health care professionals, the possession of more vaccine-related knowledge, older, more educated, and more affluent tend to believe in greater benefits and lesser risks of vaccination. Additionally, the study has confirmed that people tend to perceive new information through the filters of their cultural biases, which raises the importance of constructing appropriate narrative when addressing specific risks and concerns about vaccination to achieve better societal results. Overall, the article suggests the importance of increasing public knowledge about the vaccines and addressing the existing anxieties and concerns in ways that would not be filtered out by cultural biases.
Drawing conclusions, as the refusal to vaccinate places other people under involuntary risk, and public opinion on vaccination is influence by cultural bias and not just the reasoning about societal good, childhood vaccines should be mandatory. Furthermore, public officials should promote accurate and relevant knowledge about the benefits and risks of vaccines to assist people in making informed and evidence based decisions.