Multiple countries around the world are frustrated by the repeated measles, whooping cough, and similar outbreaks that appear to be tied to parents refusing to vaccinate their children. In an effort to encourage anti-vaccine parents to reconsider by experimenting with punitive measures against those who choose to not vaccinate their children.
As reported by MSN, vaccines are considered overwhelming safe by the scientific community and are seen as highly effective in slowing the spread of preventable diseases. Failing to immunize children does more than put kids at risk, it also potentially harms vulnerable people around them.
Many vaccines limit or eliminate the risk of catching various diseases, lowering the chance of developing a serious illness or dying after contracting the virus.
To help ensure more parents get their children the recommended shots, many countries are considering fining parents who fail to comply.
Italy’s parliament passed recent legislation that makes 10 common childhood vaccinations mandatory for children up to the age of 16. Parents will have to prove their kids are immunized prior to entering school or risk a fine of €500, or approximately $600, for noncompliance.
Germany is considering fines up to €2,500 (around $3,000) for parents who refuse to be counseled by a physician regarding immunizations.
South Australia is even considering punitive measures against parents and schools. Under the “no jab, no play” legislation, unvaccinated children would be banned from preschools and day cares. Schools that admit kids who haven’t been immunized could be fined $30,000 AUS, or around $24,000 USD.
Many of the new laws in Europe are in response to ongoing measles outbreaks throughout the continent. Australia has also experienced similar issues with preventable diseases wreaking havoc across the country.
The US has also faced challenges related to anti-vaccine parents and subsequent preventable disease outbreaks. However, the US has yet to produce formal legislation designed to curb issues related to immunizations.
Peter Hotez, an infectious disease researcher at Baylor University, speaking about the US participating in a similar crackdown, said, “I think we’re not there in the US unless there is an outbreak of a serious epidemic requiring a public health emergency.”
However, punishing parents for behavior that could put children at risk is not uncommon in the US. Many states have laws regarding the required use of car seats or seatbelts for kids, and failing to comply can result in fines and penalties on the parent’s driver’s licenses.
Similarly, legislation regarding firearm storage is also somewhat widespread.
Currently, vaccine laws are considered to fall under state control, and some states have stricter legislation than others. All 50 states require certain immunizations, but exceptions for religious or philosophical reasons allow some children to go unvaccinated.
California, Mississippi, and West Virginia have some of the strictest laws regarding immunizing kids, with California requiring all schoolchildren to meet vaccination requirements unless there is a medical reason for opting out. This means parents cannot keep their children from being vaccinated based on religious or philosophical reasons if they attend public school. Since the law was put in place, California has seen immunization rates rise from 90 percent in 2014 to 93 percent for the 2015-2016 school year.
Mississippi has the highest vaccination rate for incoming kindergartners at 99 percent, and West Virginia is a close second at 98 percent.