The biggest reason why vaccines should be mandatory is that they don't work from a public health perspective unless a majority of people are vaccinated. Vaccinations are about protecting everyone, not just yourself.
The basic idea is if enough people are vaccinated, diseases will be unable to spread through populations. Fewer people will get sick and those who are truly unable to receive vaccines remain protected.
Public health officials are pushing for vaccines to be mandatory because of the concerning uptick of parents who are choosing to forgo vaccinations entirely. Diseases, like the measles, that were essentially eradicated are making a comeback because of the anti-vaccination movement. This issue isn't limited to just the United States; in response to a measles outbreak, Italy is making childhood vaccinations mandatory.
"People are not vaccinating their kids. This is the simple reason," he says. "When the vaccination rate is around 95 percent, the virus is not able to circulate in the population. We are well below that threshold, and this is causing the outbreak, which can be very dangerous."
The bottom line is vaccinations are safe and necessary. Presenting vaccinations as an option is not working and puts the lives of children at risk. There are times when the government needs to step in to ensure the public's health and safety—and this is one of those times. Otherwise, it will be children and the most vulnerable in our communities who will pay the price for a parent's irrational and uninformed choice.
It just shouldn't be left up for debate anymore. This is what Drs. Phoebe Day Danziger and Rebekah Diamond wrote at Slate:
There is simply no reason vaccinations should be treated differently than any other form of medical care, and they must be protected within the same framework that has been created for child protection and against medical neglect. There are many ethically gray areas of medicine, but this is not one. Our laws must unambiguously and without loopholes reflect this, and there cannot be conflicting standards of child protection based on race, wealth, and education. By continuing to allow exceptions, we are fueling the misconception that vaccinations are an option, a choice, a subjective topic about which people can have different opinions that ought to be respected, when in fact all of the data proves they are not
Others think parents should have the freedom to choose what is best for their child. Parents who choose against vaccinating their children do so for a wide range of reasons. Mandating vaccines imposes a one-size-fits-all solution to a highly personal situation. Christopher Livesay from NPR reports:
"What I care about is the patient's health, and to first do no harm," Franco explains. "Every medical procedure has a risk. That includes vaccines."
People are acting as though parents don't know how to take care of their child and must be set straight by the righteous vaccination crowd. But many of these parents are carefully looking at the options available for their child and are weighing the risks and rewards of going through with it. They want the best for their child. At the end of the day, America is a free country and people shouldn't be compelled to do things they do not want to do. Jennifer Margulis writes:
It is a news media-driven misperception that parents who claim philosophical or religious exemptions are uneducated or misinformed. Most parents who individualize the vaccine schedule are actively educating themselves, continually assessing their family’s specific health needs, and doing everything they can to keep their children safe and healthy.