Kumar: Why vaccines should be required

Parental discretion means nothing when it comes to public health, especially when the decision is not based in fact.

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Kumar: Why vaccines should be required

Photo Illustration by James Year

Photo Illustration by James Year

James Year

Photo Illustration by James Year

James Year

James Year

Photo Illustration by James Year

Michelle Kumar, Opinions Columnist

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There is nothing truly more illogical or selfish than an anti-vaxxer argument. The arguments are not based on facts but rather, a thoroughly debunked article from years ago. Whether someone believes the article or not, the logic doesn’t follow. Vaccines should be mandated because public health is a public issue, making it a government priority.

The idea of personal freedom and liberty stops the minute you either take choices away from another individual or it’s a  matter of life and death. In the case of vaccines, it’s both.

Personal choices and freedoms are already a gray area, because it’s hard to draw the line on where an individual’s choices start and stop affecting other people. It may also sound like a hyperbole to say that not vaccinating your kids takes the choice from another family, but it does.

There are so many children who can’t get vaccinated because of the way their bodies work or religious teachings. By choosing to not vaccinate when you are entirely capable, you are taking away the option for another person or child to be healthy. In fact, there are phenomena of a resurgence of some of these diseases, most recently measles. It’s crazy that “parental discretion” is enough of a reason for this resurgence to be OK.

Children’s immune systems are literally not capable of handling the severity of these diseases, and they have a much higher chance of dying because you want “personal freedom.”

Vaccines are proven science. The infamous article that claimed vaccines “cause” autism has been debunked time and time again. The claim that they’re unnatural is ridiculous, as well, given that the only reason we exist today is because of “unnatural” inventions, like vaccines. Not all vaccines need to be mandated but the ones that prevent diseases that at one point literally killed hundreds of thousands of people should be. If you don’t want your child to be given the cervical cancer vaccine, that’s fine, but not to vaccinate your child against measles? That shouldn’t be a choice. 

RELATED: Cappel: Why the government shouldn’t require vaccines 

The idea that parents make everyday decisions that could affect the health of a child more than a vaccine doesn’t make sense, either. I can’t think of a single situation in which parents (unless they’re terrible) actively choose between severe illness and most likely death or a mild side effect. Having the government, whether state or federal, mandate vaccines is not them telling you how to raise your child. There’s still plenty of room for you to raise your child because there is a big difference between raising your child and disrupting public health on a national scale.

Our country is not based on Judeo-Christian values. Even if it were, there’s nothing in the Torah or Bible that says you should be selfish and bring harm to others. Personal liberty is an American value, but it is one that often brings chaos in the most extreme ways because of the individualistic nature of Western society.

In many parts of the world diseases such as polio, rubella, diphtheria, smallpox, and whooping cough have not been eradicated, and the lack of access to vaccines is one cause of that. We’re lucky enough in the Western world to have the access and not have to worry about these diseases, and we shouldn’t take that for granted. 

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