Lauren Zidones


Vaccines have helped increase the life expectancy for humans in the 20th century and have reduced the number of deaths associated with infectious diseases. Despite efforts by the CDC, state and local governments, and other public health agencies, infectious diseases are still a major cause of illness, disability, and death. Steps must be taken to address the continued rise of vaccine-preventable diseases in America. Eliminating or limiting state exemptions for mandatory vaccinations for school-aged children is the simplest way to address this growing issue. However, a population of parents argue for absolute parental rights and stand against any vaccine exemption reform. In this way, parents can possess total decision-making power relating to their child’s medical care. However, parental rights under the Constitution are held in balance against the states’ responsibilities. The states have an obligation to intervene when it is necessary to prevent harm to a child. In an significant decision, the court in New Jersey Division of Child Protection and Permanency v. J.B. ordered age appropriate vaccines for non-school aged children under the state of New Jersey’s care and reaffirmed the notion that parental rights are not absolute. Courts and other public agencies should possess the power to order vaccinations for children under their care. Furthermore, state and federal vaccine laws should be strengthened to protect the welfare of society.