Childhood diseases like whooping cough and measles are making a comeback in the U.S. despite the availability of preventive vaccines, and medical experts think that allowing parents to opt out of getting the shots for their kids is a major culprit.
“ Part of the problem is, too many parents are refusing to get their kids vaccinated against whooping cough and the other horrible diseases that have returned, sickening, disabling and killing children,” bioethicist Art Caplan, Ph.D., writes on NBCNews.com, who states: “Vaccine refusers put every other kid, baby and immune-suppressed adult at greater risk of getting infected. Freedom of choice is a great thing — except when that choice leads to a possibly fatal outcome for your child.”
Caplan says that it’s too easy, in many states, for parents to choose not to get their children vaccinated. Mississippi and West Virginia only allow parents to opt-out for medical grounds, such as immune disorders or severe allergies. “That seems reasonable,” says Caplan.
Other states allow for a religious exemption, but Maine, Colorado, Washington, Texas, Vermont, Arkansas and Minnesota allow parents to skip vaccinations for their children for any reason — or no reason at all. Caplan endorsed legislation that would require parents to document that they had an in-person discussion with a doctor before being able to opt out of vaccines.
“The United States is paying the price in death, disability and misery of allowing anyone who wants to, for no reason supported by medical science, deny vaccines for their children,” he says.
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