We found that out last year when an unvaccinated teen returned from a trip overseas and developed measles.
“Although patient A’s parents had chosen not to vaccinate him, his immunocompromised brother, an organ transplant recipient, had received intravenous immunoglobulin to protect him against measles before traveling overseas. When patient A’s illness was reported, SCCPHD recommended that his brother receive additional intravenous immunoglobulin and be quarantined 7 additional days; the family followed both recommendations. Patient C’s unvaccinated sister, aged 17 years, received parental permission to choose to receive MMR vaccine when her brother was quarantined; she opted to receive the vaccine.”
Notes from the Field: Measles Outbreak in an Era of Stricter Immunization Requirements — California, March 2018
While that isn’t so surprising, it is that instead of cooperating with health department investigators, so that they can find and quarantine contact, several people lied. That led to more people getting sick and the outbreak going on longer than it should have.
It is also amazing that they hadn’t already vaccinated their kids, having a high risk, immunocompromised child in the house who couldn’t receive the MMR vaccine!
What do kids do when their parents are anti-vaccine?
Whether or not they know it, they hide in the herd, at least until they understand what’s going on.
And then they often make a choice to either continue with their parents beliefs and remain unprotected or they get caught up.
Can Minors Consent to Getting Vaccinated?
Since getting vaccinated is a medical procedure, in most cases, you are still going to need the consent of a parent, guardian, or other adult family member if you are still a minor, which leaves out simply going out and getting caught up.
“State law is generally the controlling authority for whether parental consent is required or minors may consent for their own health care, including vaccination.”
Abigail English, JD on the Legal Basis of Consent for Health Care and Vaccination for Adolescents
Are you still a minor?
“In most states, age 18 is the age of majority and thus, before treating a patient under the age of 18, consent must be obtained from the patient’s parent or legal guardian.”
Ann McNary, JD on Consent to Treatment of Minors
When it comes to immunizations and health care, in addition to what state you live in, that likely depends on whether or not you are an emancipated minor (court order), married minor, pregnant minor, or minor parent (situational emancipation). It also can depend on the type of health care you are seeking, like if a minor is seeking birth control or treatment for an STD.
“States Parties shall assure to the child who is capable of forming his or her own views the right to express those views freely in all matters affecting the child, the views of the child being given due weight in accordance with the age and maturity of the child.”
Convention on the Rights of the Child
Are you a mature minor? In some states, you can also give consent for medical procedures, including getting vaccinated, if you are a mature minor – someone who is old enough to understand and appreciate the consequences of a medical procedure.
In Washington, for example, minors may get immunizations without their parents consent after their health care provider evaluates the minor’s “age, intelligence, maturity, training, experience, economic independence or lack thereof, general conduct as an adult and freedom from the control of parents.”
If Facebook has taught us anything, it is that we aren’t going to agree with all of our friends about everything.
It is easy to think that your friends and family have very similar opinions as your own, especially about things like politics and religion, but only when you don’t actually talk about them.
But then you see your friends like, share, or post something that totally catches you by surprise…
What Do Your Friends Think About Vaccines?
What do you do when that surprise is that your friend or family member is anti-vaccine?
Is that something you would agree to disagree about, try to change their mind, or would it lead to the loss of a friendship? After all, it’s one thing if you are vegan and your baby is going to get exposed to eating meat when you go visit the home of a friend who is a carnivore, and quite another if she might get exposed to measles or chickenpox because they don’t believe in vaccines.
“I also warn them not to share their fears with their neighbors, because if too many people avoid the MMR, we’ll likely see the diseases increase significantly.”
Dr. Bob Sears in The Vaccine Book
But if your kids are vaccinated, why would you even be concerned about whether or not your friends vaccinate their own kids?
Because your vaccinated kids are still at risk. Remember, even if your child does not have any chronic illnesses or problems with their immune system, there is the fact that kids aren’t at least partially protected against:
pertussis until after the third dose of DTaP at six months
the flu until after getting a first flu shot at six months, keeping in mind that they are actually going to need a second flu shot for full protection, since it is the first time that they are being vaccinated against influenza
measles, mumps, and chicken pox until they get their first dose of MMR and the chicken pox vaccine when they are 12 months old
There have been vaccine mandates in the United States since 1827, when Boston became the first city to require all children attending public schools to be vaccinated against smallpox.
Surprisingly though, it took a long time to get vaccine mandates protecting more children. It wasn’t until the 1980-81 school year that there were laws in all 50 states mandating that children required vaccinations before starting school.
This followed continued measles outbreaks in the mid-1970s and studies showing that states with vaccine mandates had much lower rates of measles than states that didn’t. And it likely explains why there were 10 measles deaths in the United States as late as 1980, even though the first measles vaccine was introduced in 1963.
It took even longer for the vaccine mandates to cover kids in all grades and not just those entering school, to cover kids in daycare, and to cover kids in college. And tragically, it didn’t take long for politicians to chip away at those vaccine mandates. Over just a few years, from 1998 to 2000, 15 states added personal belief vaccine exemptions.
Even the Vaccination Act of 1853 in the UK, which required everyone to get a small pox vaccine, didn’t actually force them to get vaccinated. It originally levied fines on people until they got the vaccine, but they soon allowed a conscientious exemption to vaccination, which many people took advantage of. Over the years, so many people were claiming conscientious vaccine exemptions in the UK, that in 1946, they repealed their vaccine requirements altogether.
What Is a Vaccine Mandate?
Since a mandate is typically defined as an official order to do something, a vaccine mandate would be an order to get a vaccine. But it is hardly an order to hold down and force a vaccine on someone.
Likewise, state laws that mandate vaccines aren’t forcing kids to get vaccinated. They are typically mandates to get vaccinated before attending daycare, public and private schools, and/or college.
Is your child going to camp this year? They might mandate certain vaccines if kids want to attend.
Do Vaccine Mandates Force Parents to Vaccinate Their Kids?
Do vaccine mandates take away a person’s choice about getting vaccinated?
Of course not.
Again. We are not talking about forced vaccination.
For example, if you work in a hospital that requires a yearly flu vaccine, you can decide to work somewhere else. Sure, you no longer simply have the choice between getting vaccinated or leaving yourself unprotected and continuing to work at the same job, but you can still decide to skip the vaccine and look for another job.
These are mandates with a choice.
The same is true with vaccine mandates for kids to attend school or daycare. If you choose to skip one or more vaccines for a non-medical reason, then even if you are in a state that doesn’t allow religious or philosophical vaccine exemptions, you won’t be forced to get vaccinated. While it may not be an option you are happy with, homeschooling is an option for those who don’t want to vaccinate their kids.
Public education is a benefit of those who comply with mandates or compulsory vaccination laws.
These state immunization laws and vaccine mandates have nothing to do with forced vaccination. They also don’t take away your informed consent, are not against the Nuremberg Code, and are not unconstitutional.
Have kids ever been forced to get vaccinations?
Not routinely, but there have been cases of health officials getting court orders to get kids vaccinated and protected, usually during outbreaks of a vaccine-preventable disease.
In 1991, for example, a judge ruled that parents of unvaccinated children who were members of the Faith Tabernacle Congregation in Pennsylvania had to get a measles vaccine. As a measles outbreak spread through Faith Tabernacle, an associated church, and the rest of the city, there were at least 486 cases of measles in the church, mostly among children, and 6 deaths.
“Parents are free to become martyrs themselves. But it does not follow that they are free, in identical circumstances, to make martyrs of their children before they have reached the age of full and legal discretion when they can make that choice for themselves.”
Prince v. Massachusetts
In addition to being unvaccinated, these children didn’t get any medical care, as their families instead relied on prayer. Finally, after the order was appealed all the way to the state Supreme Court, only nine children got vaccinated.
When parents disagree about vaccines, a judge might also step in decide that a child be vaccinated over one parent’s objections. A child might also get vaccinated against their parents wishes if they have lost custody for reasons that have nothing to do with the child’s medical issues and so a legal guardian, which might be the state, is making those decisions now.
Still, these are not the usual circumstances we are talking about with state vaccine laws. They are simply laws to get kids vaccinated and protected before they are allowed to attend daycare or school.
What to Know About Vaccine Mandates and Forced Vaccinations
Vaccine mandates do not force parents to vaccinate their kids.