There is an alarming amount of misinformation floating around in the zeitgeist about the necessity and safety of vaccines for children. Despite overwhelming scientific evidence and testimony, the fantasy that required vaccines are unnecessary and dangerous somehow manages to persist--and this is not a new issue. The United States of the early 19th century saw smallpox vaccinations become widespread, to the chagrin of outspoken opponents who derided the practice for a variety of religious and political reasons. Nowadays vaccines are cited as the cause for ailments ranging from autism to multiple sclerosis, oftentimes bolstered by using celebrities as mouthpieces and against the better judgements of the medical community at large.
In truth, inoculations against illnesses have a long history of saving lives and staving off outbreaks of disease. Smallpox, measles, polio--these are just a few of the serious risks to public health that have at some point been virtually eliminated by vaccinations. Public health issues taken into account, local officials in parts of the U.S. first enforced vaccinations in the mid 1800s in response to smallpox--and it was eradicated. Later, in the middle of the 20th century, similar measures were taken to require vaccinations against measles.
By the start of the 21st century, immunization was a lawful requirement in all 50 states for a variety of illnesses. However, certain exemptions do exist. Almost all states allow for a person to exempt their children from vaccination on religious grounds, and a little less than half allow it in response to a philosophical argument--and, boy, do people argue about it. Aside from the utterly unproven but loudly alluded to “health risks” of vaccination, opponents often argue that it is a violation of individual rights to dictate to a family what they and their kids must put into their bodies.
If so, it is no more a violation than telling someone how fast they may drive down a suburban street or what movies they can see at a certain age. Study after study has shown that vaccines save lives, bottom line, and there is no scientific evidence to promote the argument that they are harming our people. This is a serious public health concern. Nobody wants mumps making a comeback.