More Thoughts On Forced Vaccination

I wrote last month about Maryland’s effort to force parents to vaccinate their children against chicken pox and Hepatitis B by banning children who haven’t received the shots from public school. Now the District of Columbia is on the verge of imposing it’s own vaccination requirement:

The D.C. Council opened its legislative year by introducing a bill that could make the District one of the first jurisdictions in the country to require girls younger than 13 years old to get a new nationally debated vaccine against cervical cancer.

Female students enrolling in the sixth grade would be asked to show proof of receiving the vaccine against the sexually transmitted human papilloma virus (HPV) under the bill, introduced yesterday by council members David A. Catania (I-At Large) and Mary M. Cheh (D-Ward 3).

A parent or legal guardian would have the right to “opt out” of the requirement, Catania said, but the bill does not detail under what circumstances exemptions would be permitted.

Even if you accept the public health argument that is generally made when the issue of mandatory vaccination comes up, this one doesn’t seem to be justifiable. Like Hepatitis B, the HPV virus is not easily transmissible; you can’t get it by sitting next to an infected person on the subway. To catch it, you have engage in sexual activity. If you’re targeting people who might be at risk for getting this disease, you’d be better off concentrating on a segment of the population that is actually engaging in the behavior that puts them at risk.

To be fair, the proposed law would have a provision allowing parents to opt-out of the requirement, but it is not clear how that could be done or under what circumstances an opt-out would be approved. The precedent, however, of making this vaccination mandatory, though, would be created, and it’s unlikely that it would be long before any opt-out would be eliminated.

The more important point, though, is that school board members and City Council members should not be putting themselves in the place of parents and making medical decisions like this.

  • VRB

    The right for a parent decision not to immunize would be their right, but I would hope they would be sufficiently informed. They should not be subjected to a lot of junk science, certain groups use to promote their agenda.

  • theobromophile

    The first wave of mandatory vaccinations had deep roots in public health necessity. Polio and smallpox swept through cities and killed many of those infected. They were true epidemics, with little means to stop them and, often, fewer means to save those who become infected. Vaccination became a public health need, both to insure one’s personal health and to avoid trasmission to others.

    The newest wave of vaccinations are not of the same caliber. Chicken pox is but a discomfort; HPV is actually extremely rare. (Consider that only about 4,000 of the 150,000,000 women living in this country die from it every year.) There is little justification for creating the vaccines, let alone making them mandatory. Given that the American obsession with antibacterials and vaccines has been traced to an increase in food allergies (many deadly) it is senseless to attempt to protect Americans from every possible pathogen.

  • Clare

    If you read the research on the trials for the HPV vaccine, it is far from 100% effective. It only tackles about 2/3 of known HPV strains, so won’t wipe out cervical cancer, as many supporters claim.
    There was also a statistically significant increase in the number of babies born with birth defects to mothers who had recently had the vaccine.
    While such risks exist, it would surely be foolhardy to make such a vaccine mandatory?

    As VRB says, parents need to be sufficiently informed. This means both avoiding the “junk science” from “certain groups” and the biased, incomplete information currently published by the developers of the vaccines.

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  • Stephanie

    and of the 3,700 women who die of cervical cancer each year – 50% have NEVER had a single pap smear. this disease is very preventable in many ways and is not contagious in the school setting. its downright frightening how much sway Big Pharma has over the state legislators – who are suppose to be representing US!!

  • Adam Selene

    Stephanie, we gave corporations that power when we asked the government to regulate drugs. You want pharmaceutical companies to stop influencing legislators and bureaucrats, deregulate drug manufacturing.