Would it be morally acceptable for the Government to force children to be vaccinated?

This is, of course, assuming all the necessary medical exceptions like certain immune issues etc, such children being unable to get vaccinated. Let’s also not forget that herd immunity is necessary to protect such people, however, I’m not trying to convince anyone of anything here.

So, the question is, would it be morally okay for the US government in an absolute sense (ie not tying it to stuff like if your kids go to public school or not) to force children to get vaccinated whether their parents want it or not?

Let’s not discuss whether this would lead to an extension of power of the government etc. That’s another topic.

(Please be fully aware that I absolutely abhor the anti-vaxxer movement.)

I would say yes, it’d be morally acceptable (also as someone who is pro-vaccine).

But I would point out that you appear to be weighting down the question in such a way as to limit its usefulness outside of a philosophical discussion. “Would if be okay if the government forced its citizens to do something that would virtually guarantee greater health (and consequently a greater quality of life) for all of us, while eliminating all concerns about any future overreaches of governmental authority?” Well, yeah. The problem is, in the real world, things aren’t that simple.

Well, I purposefully framed the question that way. I tried to strip away all distractors because, if something is technically morally neutral or positive, then it is at least worth thinking about doing (even if we end up not doing it, but I think we should).

That’s just how I think.

Before I will consider practicalities, I tend to test an idea to see if it makes it “past the gate” of theoretical/“absolute” acceptability. I am fully aware of the limits of that mode of thinking.

I don’t think coercion is ever morally neutral. Government coercion is even less so.

–Jen

It depends.

In a matter of a public health emergency, yes. The government has the power to do a lot of things when it comes to public health emergencies. Quarantines, for example.

Generally speaking, though, I’m not sure it would be moral. Which might be why it’s not happening now.

You’re right, I should have made an exception for emergencies. It would probably be closer to my views to say that government coercion as ongoing policy is not morally neutral.

–Jen

In regard to the U.S., the federal government does not require school or day care (preschool) immunizations for enrolled children. Currently, in the U.S., all 50 states and the U.S. territories, via their legislatures, have passed and enforce such requirements for children. I believe all of them have some type of medical or personal exemption that allows the parent to opt out. Most of the religious exemptions originate from Christian Scientists and Jehovah Witnesses. Medical exemptions in most cases need to be signed off by a physician. Thrre are some states who permit a personal exemption for the child by the parent/guardian with no justification.

Since school and immunization laws, in the late 70’s, became the trend, vaccine preventable disease rates have plummeted in the U.S.

To answer you original question, YES, it’s morally acceptable for the government to protect children from vaccine preventable diseases. There is no Catholic Church teaching to the contrary.

God Bless and Peace to all.

It just makes sense to have kids given vaccine against various contagious diseases.

I remember the polio epidemics they used to have back in the 1950s. One of my friends at school died of polio. Measles is a miserable childhood illness. So are all the others.

Absolutely I think it’s acceptable for the government to require immunizations for certain things, although not all. There is currently a measles epidemic in my state because of parents not immunizing their children. And diseases like polio are very devastating. So, yes, I support authorities to take whatever measures are needed to prevent the spread of such disease.

I would say, with the usual exemptions for faith, only those vaccines with a long standing record of effective control should fall under such a mandate (ie whooping-cough, tetanus, MMR…) .

Vaccines such as the influenza vaccine which are based on a best guess should not be compulsory.

Vaccines such as Gardasil that have at best questionable health benefits that have been “fast tracked” thru the FDA for no good reason, also should not be compulsory. (( CBS: Gardasil Researcher Speaks Out )).

No, I do not think it is moral for a government to force any medical intervention on people against their will and that includes vaccinations.

I am generally pro-vaccine. But no vaccine is 100% safe. Who is responsible if a child has an adverse reaction? Parents should be given lots of information and **strongly **encouraged to vaccinate but no, children should not be force-vaccinated.

And one of my friends was permanently crippled from the polio vaccine. Hard cases, as they say, make bad law. I had measles as a child - it wasn’t miserable, just annoying. It is much more dangerous for adults.

And my college had a measles outbreak BECAUSE of vaccinations. A whole generation of kids were vaccinated in early childhood (in the 60s) and told that the vaccine imparted a lifetime immunity. Guess what? **The government did not tell the truth about that. ** Millions of people reached their late teens or young adulthood without a measles immunity. There were epidemics on a lot of college campuses because these people had not contracted measles as children which really would have imparted a life long immunity.

We are about to face a similar situation with chicken pox. The vaccine has now been found to be good for only about 10 years. It’s much harder to make teens and young adults vaccine compliant. Adult chicken pox is often fatal while childhood chicken pox rarely has any serious complications.

Again, I am not anti-vaccination. Except for the diseases I had as a child, I am fully vaccinated as are my children. But I really don’t trust the government to be in charge of the health of me or my family. I think these are decisions that need to be made with full information and consent.

I would say yes (here assuming safe and proven vaccine created in moral manner etc and doesn’t violate religious teachings of the children, etc). Maintaining/protecting public safety is one of the moral duties of a government.

Corki, to play devil’s advocate: What do you think of situations in which a child becomes very ill but the parents refuse standard medical treatment on the basis of religious beliefs? Should the State compel medical intervention against the will of the parents? Prosecute parents when the child later dies?

One of the quotes that I found interesting from the above article was this one:

[quote=]“With an adult who refuses medical help, it’s not a problem – it’s one of the freedoms we have in this country,” said Gordon Melton, director of the California-based Institute for the Study of American Religions. “But if it’s a child, the state has an interest in the child remaining healthy and becoming an adult. The court can step in and assume parental control.”
[/quote]

OP, this is how I see your question. Assuming we were able to limit the mandate only to proven, safe vaccines and there were health exceptions for people with allergies or genetic conditions, then yes, I think the State should be allowed to compel parents to vaccinate their children. This is because I see vaccines as a good, the best way to avoid the worst, and necessary for the good of the community. But in practice, I wonder how this would work without tying it to some benefit, like public school, that children would not be allowed to receive otherwise. And of course, I think the vaccines should be made available free of charge or at very low cost so this isn’t a financial burden on poor families.

I don’t know. It’s very different to discuss refusing life saving treatment that, unless received, will result in the death of a child and compare that to a vaccine which is not 100% safe and only serves to improve the statistical chances of a child not catching a disease that may or may not seriously impact the child’s long-term health. In the former situation, there is medical certainly. In the case of vaccinations, there is none. In the former, I think that the current system of looking at ALL of the detail on a case-by-case basis by a judge is an important safeguard.

One of the quotes that I found interesting from the above article was this one:

OP, this is how I see your question. Assuming we were able to limit the mandate only to proven, safe vaccines and there were health exceptions for people with allergies or genetic conditions, then yes, I think the State should be allowed to compel parents to vaccinate their children. This is because I see vaccines as a good, the best way to avoid the worst, and necessary for the good of the community. But in practice, I wonder how this would work without tying it to some benefit, like public school, that children would not be allowed to receive otherwise. And of course, I think the vaccines should be made available free of charge or at very low cost so this isn’t a financial burden on poor families

But who is to say that some government won’t decide that it is “a good” to forceably sterilize women after they give birth to X number of children or reach some advanced maternal age or to force contraceptives/abortions on children until they reach some arbitrary age where they are mature enough to have a child?

And heck yeah!!, if this was to become compulsory, the government would have to bear the cost of the vaccines, the health care providers to administer them and care for anyone who has an adverse reaction.

Corki

Wow, where are you coming from my Catholic friend.

Yes, measles vaccine administered in the 60’s was a problem. Three major reasons why: (1) Improper cold chain (poor handling and storage of vaccine, i.e., lack of proper refrigeration), (2) use of jet injector guns (no longer used) and (3) packaged in multi 10 – 50- dose vials with greater chance of cold chain compromise (now single dose vials). Current requirements in almost all states is for two doses of the Measles-Mumps-Rubella (MMR) vaccine administered at ages 12 – 15 months and before entering kindergarten -1st grade.

The Chicken Pox vaccine is a very interesting story. Good ole vaccine manufacturer (won’t name the company) went to the State legislatures and lobbied to include it in the school/day care immunization requirements. Can those state legislatures be bought by corporate America – I think so. The State Health Dept. that I had experience with opposed it. However, the State Health Dept. folks are bureaucrats and Corporate America knows best.

The CDC and FDA (not respected by some on this forum) require before an adult/parent/guardian receiving a vaccine or their infant/child, be provided a Vaccine Information Statement (VIS) which includes both the benefits and risks of the vaccine being administered. Whether the private physician provides it or not, well that’s another issue.

In regard to the Chicken Pox vaccine, I would still strongly suggest as a Catholic concerned about your health and all other older adults on this forum, please receive the vaccine to prevent shingles. You don’ want that virus in your later age, it’s very nasty.

Lastly, the U.S. Government does have a vaccine compensation fund set up for adverse reactions. Now, who do you think lobbied for that government program? Could it just be the vaccine manufactures to prevent lawsuits as was the case before the fund was established.- BINGO?

God Bless and Peace to all

I am not your friend - I don’t even know you.

I am coming from a place of distrust of government mandates, especially where they restrict other rights.

I am coming from a place where I have seen first hand, in friends and family members, what can go wrong with “safe” vaccinations. And I am not talking about some of the conspiracy theories about links between vaccines and other conditions - just actual adverse reactions from the vaccines themselves.

And I am coming from the place of being a US citizen in a country where our government has a really twisted sense of what is good and bad for us sometimes. Where the government thinks that chemical contraception is an absolute “good” for pre-teen girls but somehow an occasional lunch that exceeds some arbitrary calorie limit is always “bad” regardless of the size or activity level of the child.

I don’t think there was insult intended, here… remember our Lord’s own words… love thy neighbor as I have loved you.
This is a very interesting thread and it would be unfortunate to have it closed because we could not act kindly towards each other.

I agree with Corki. Not all vaccinations come from morally acceptable sources, not all vaccinations are foolproof, and all can have adverse side effects.
I’m a nurse and fully support immunizing children, but I don’t want the government deciding what’s good for my child and what isn’t. I wouldn’t let my daughter get gardasil although her doctor encouraged her to; too many side effects have been seen.
It could well be another slippery slope – if the govt can compel vaccinations, why not other medical treatments? Why not implant contraception in all teenagers, since “everyone knows” they can’t control themselves?
Why not compel abortions for Down syndrome babies, to avoid the costs to society?
Our government already has delusions of grandeur. Let’s not make it worse.

Believe me, the govt won’t need to mandate me to get the shingles vax. I’ve got a couple years yet before I’m eligible for it, but people close to me had shingles over the past couple years and I’m not gonna mess around with it.

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