With the rise of the anti-vax movement, more parents are refusing to vaccinate their children due to assumption-based conspiracies that force them to believe that vaccines cause more harm than the disease itself. This issue is growing rapidly and causing outbreaks that haven’t occurred since the 1990s. To stop the outbreak from causing further damage, states have started taking drastic measures to maintain public health and ensure the outbreak is contaminated.
Vaccination policies differ from country to country.
Italy has taken the upper hand when it came to tightening child immunization laws. The state has completely banned unvaccinated children from attending school. Parents who send their unvaccinated children to school are fined up to $560. The “Lorenzin law”, named after their former Minister of Health, mandates that children are obligated to receive a range of vaccinations before enrolling at school. These include polio, measles, mumps, rubella and chickenpox.
Although the new law was passed during a measles outbreak, Italian officials have announced that it has affected vaccination rates positively from below 80% to the World Health Organisation's 95% target. The latter is the point where herd immunity becomes effective, which means that most of the population is vaccinated and the disease is unlikely to be spread. Furthermore, people who are unable to receive vaccines due to allergies are protected thanks to herd immunity.
The ongoing measles outbreak across Europe has forced authorities to tighten laws on child immunization. Ironically, renowned chemist Louis Pasteur’s (pioneer of vaccine) birthplace, France, is facing a vaccine problem. The French population has displayed skepticism regarding vaccine safety, which has led to increasing distrust in public health institutions and the pharmaceutical industry. France’s Ministry of Health announced back in 2017 that they plan on making 11 vaccines obligatory for young children by 2018 in hopes of overcoming anti-vax propaganda. France had 3 mandatory vaccines - polio, tetanus, diphtheria, for children under 2.
Germany is another European country that is working against anti-vax parents to ensure child immunization. Bundestag approved a law that obliges administrators at kindergartens to report parents who refuse to counsel from their doctors about vaccines. Health ministries can then also fine the vaccine-hesitant parents up to $3,000.
The National Center for Surveillance and Control of Communicable Diseases has shown that the measles outbreak in Romania has taken the lives of 32 people. Romania joined the fight against anti-vaxxers and adopted a draft bill that establishes the obligation to vaccinate children with the ones that are included in the National Vaccination Calendar along with those administered to the entire population or to groups of people in special epidemiological situations.
At the other end of the world, Australia passed a Social Services Legislation Amendment called No Jab, No Pay, which is the new immunization requirements for Family Assistance Payments fact sheet for vaccination providers. This abolished the right to conscientiously object to vaccination for the purpose of eligibility to certain benefits provided under A New Tax System (Family Assistance) Act 1999.
Some states in the US have mandatory laws regarding vaccines, whereas other states offer medical exemptions for religious or philosophical reasons. Western European countries, on the other hand, have had a voluntary attitude towards vaccinations.
A New York Times article examined the 2014–2015 measles outbreak in Disneyland, which led to the highest number of cases in the state in over 10 years. It also spread to other states, Mexico and Canada. California, the Golden State of the US, went through hell and back after an intense legislative battle in June 2015 to ban personal belief exemption from school immunization requirement. Luckily, their opponents lacked extensive scientific data that disproved vaccines are harmful and ineffective. The state was able to successfully present that its side effects are very rare and vaccines, in fact, have large benefits and are cost-friendly. Research has also proven that countries, where they have high rates of exemptions from school requirements, increase the risks of outbreaks.
In hopes of putting an end to outbreaks, vaccines help to eradicate diseases that mankind hasn’t seen in a very long time. These laws have proven to affect public health rates positively and provide a disease-free future to children. Vaccine side effects, as rare as they are, harm significantly fewer people than the disease itself. Public health authorities are optimistic that stricter child immunization laws can wipe out both conspiracies and the diseases.