Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Mandatory Vaccinations

It’s only Wednesday and yet a lot has already happened: President Obama proposed a new budget that would raise spending and taxes, ISIS burned a Jordanian pilot, and former Christian artist Katy Perry rode into the Super Bowl on a mechanical tiger and danced alongside two sharks. What a time to be alive!

Yes, a lot has happened, but there is one thing I left out: The debate over vaccinations and whether to make them mandatory has once again made its way to the forefront of the news cycle.

Growing up with a nurse for a mom, there was no way for me to escape vaccinations. It seemed as if every time I went to the doctor for a check-up, another needle would go into my arm and I would cry like the wuss I was (and still am, admittedly) all the way home. The only positive to getting a shot was the Scooby-Doo bandaid I would get after. What can I say, I’m easy to impress.

But now that I have the power of hindsight, I suppose another positive to getting vaccinated is that I never contracted diseases like Smallpox, Hepatitis, Tuberculosis, etc. Yeah, I’d say that’s a pretty big positive. So as much as I hated getting injections, I’m pretty glad I did. Thanks, mom!

The anti-vaccine crowd (a.k.a. anti-vaxxers) is sizable. It’s really a diverse group – some oppose vaccines for religious reasons, some believe natural remedies work better and are safer, and some people, I presume, are just wusses like I was. After all, I was part of the anti-vaxxer movement when I was five year old, so I understand their plight.

So far, the federal government’s opinion in the vaccine debate is almost nonexistent. The CDC recommends 10 vaccines for children from birth to six years old. There is no federal law requiring these vaccines, but all 50 states do have some sort of vaccination requirement for children attending public schools. Most states allow religious exemptions and some states allow “philosophical/personal belief” exemptions.

Vaccination exemptions by state

Image from ProCon.org

So now the question being raised once again is, should the federal government mandate these vaccinations?

In short, absolutely not.

This is not the kind of debate that the federal government should be stepping into. So far, our system of letting states decide their own regulations has worked. But when something like a Measles breakout occurs, as it did recently in California, the media swings their attention away from the other important news of the world and big-government progressives on both sides turn to the federal government with a face like Oliver Twist asking for more soup and demand action. It’s a reactionary move fueled by fear, and that’s how bad things happen and poor precedents are made.

I think vaccinations are great, as do all other reasonable people. But I am not a fan of using the power of the federal government, which should be limited to begin with, to force a bunch of free-spirited parents and Christian Scientists into vaccinating their kids. Let’s just make sure we keep them out of public school, deal?

About Stephen Perkins

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Stephen Perkins envisions a world where people are free to fulfill their God-given potential, collaborate with others, and take ownership in their communities. His mission is to help emerging leaders inspire others and influence change. Stephen founded OUTSET in 2014 as a venue for smart commentary on politics and culture from the next generation of conservative voices. His writing centers around changes within conservative politics, with an emphasis on individual liberties, technology, entrepreneurship, media, and civic engagement. Outside of OUTSET, Stephen can be found enjoying a cigar, red wine, or a drive in his Jeep Patriot named Reagan. Originally from Houston, Stephen now lives and works in the DFW metroplex.