Controversies in Vaccine Mandates
Policies that mandate immunization have always been controversial. The controversies take different forms in different contexts. For routine childhood immunizations, many parents have fears about both short- and long-term side effects. Parental worries change as the rate of vaccination in the community changes. When most children are vaccinated, parents worry more about side effects than they do about disease. Because of these worries, immunization rates go down. As immunization rates go down, disease rates go up, and parents worry less about side effects of vaccination and more about the complications of the diseases. Immunization rates then go up. For teenagers, controversies arise about the criteria that should guide policies that mandate, rather than merely recommend and encourage, certain immunizations. In particular, policy makers have questioned whether immunizations for human papillomavirus, or other diseases that are not contagious, should be required. For healthcare workers, debates have focused on the strength of institutional mandates. For years, experts have recommended that all healthcare workers be immunized against influenza. Immunizations for other infections including pertussis, measles, mumps, and hepatitis are encouraged but few hospitals have mandated such immunizations-instead, they rely on incentives and education. Pandemics present a different set of problems as people demand vaccines that are in short supply. These issues erupt into controversy on a regular basis. Physicians and policy makers must respond both in their individual practices and as advisory experts to national and state agencies. The articles in this volume will discuss the evolution of national immunization programs in these various settings. We will critically examine the role of vaccine mandates. We will discuss ways that practitioners and public health officials should deal with vaccine refusal. We will contrast responses of the population as a whole, within the healthcare setting, and in the setting of pandemic influenza. © 2010 Mosby, Inc. All rights reserved.
Current Problems in Pediatric and Adolescent Health Care
Lantos, J. D., Jackson, M., Opel, D. J., Marcuse, E. K., Myers, A. L., Connelly, B. L. Controversies in Vaccine Mandates Current Problems in Pediatric and Adolescent Health Care 40, 38-58 (2010).