Compulsory Vaccination In The United States: Ethics, Regulations, And Recommendations
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Infectious diseases such as poliomyelitis, smallpox, and Hib used to pose a significant threat to the population of the United States. Thanks to the advent of vaccinations, many of these dangerous diseases have been almost or completely eradicated in America and around the world. However, as the rates of infectious diseases decrease, anti-vaccine sentiment becomes more popular. There are many reasons for parents to refuse to vaccinate their children, but vaccine hesitancy of any kind jeopardizes America’s maintenance of immunity and health. Therefore, although personal autonomy is an important principle in a democratic society, the United States government has an ethical duty to enact vaccination policy in order to prevent outbreaks of disease and to ensure the safety of the population at large. This thesis will explore the many ethical issues associated with a compulsory vaccination program in the United States. Based on research about the science of vaccines, reasons for vaccine hesitancy, current United States policy, and utilitarian philosophy, a set of guidelines for an effective vaccine mandate will be proposed. These guidelines consist of five main criteria, all of which vaccination policy must follow in order to be considered ethical. The thesis will conclude with recommendations for policy and programming to combat decreased immunization rates in the United States, for the present and the future.