Although, vaccinations have been around for a long time, the great controversy surrounding the uses were substantially less when first accepted. Over time, vaccines have been created for diseases such as polio, small pox, chicken pox, the common flu; as well as being improved and continually updated. Prior to the development of vaccines, diseases were a great concern to the people due to their wide and rapid spreading. Vaccines became very popular and were believed to be essential in order to maintain a healthy society. The amount of people suffering from many of the diseases that vaccines now exist for has significantly gone down since vaccines inception. In fact, vaccines have even been said to be one of the greatest public health achievements of the last century according to the US Department of Health and Human Services.
However, what is often unknown, or at least not acknowledged, is the concurrent role of improved sanitation and public hygiene. Sanitation and public hygiene were also improving drastically during the same time as the vaccines were becoming popular. The Salk vaccine is commonly believed to be responsible for the halting the polio epidemics that plagued American children in the 1940’s and 1950’s. However, this is so, then why around the same time, did the epidemics also end in Europe where the polio vaccine was not extensively used? If one is to look at a graph of polio case activity before and after its vaccine introduction, polio was already on the decline when vaccines were introduced. (Mendelsohn)
While vaccinations may or may not have been effective in reducing or eliminating some deadly diseases during the past century, the question still remains about who should decide what foreign substances should be introduced into the body. Only a parent can decide whether to reject immunizations or risk accepting them for their children (Mendelsohn).
The United States currently has no federal laws mandating vaccinations because the Supreme Court agreed that forced vaccinations could be interpreted as an infringement on an individual's rights (Vaccine). Nevertheless, the individual states do have laws about vaccinations. As of the 2001-2002 school year, all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico have school entry requirements regarding vaccines (Hinman). While some states vaccination laws are more broad, others have specific laws about how many doses are necessary, the age vaccinations should occur, and even whether vaccinations are necessary for children to attend school or not.
“A compulsory vaccination law is unreasonable, arbitrary and oppressive, and therefore, hostile to the inherent right of every freeman to care for his own body and health in such a way as to him seems best...the execution of such a law against one who objects to vaccination, for whatever reason, is nothing short of an assault on his person.” (Vaccines). This is a statement made by Henning Jacobson, in 1902, after refusing to pay his...