Should Vaccines Be Required?

A student coughing from a sickness due to not having vaccines.

Ethan Y.

A student coughing from a sickness due to not having vaccines.

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A coronavirus epidemic has spread over China and is starting to spread to other countries. Thousands have been infected and hundreds of people have died of the infectious respiratory virus. However, the coronavirus outbreak could have been prevented by the use of vaccines. Influenza, commonly known as the flu, was once a life-threatening illness but was contained because of vaccines. Despite this, millions of people around the world refuse to take vaccines. Should vaccines be required?

The first vaccine was used by the Chinese to prevent smallpox. By inhaling ground up scabs of smallpox victims through the nose, the patient’s body would become immune to smallpox, thus preventing it. The concept of natural prevention of disease – vaccines – was spread until the idea of inoculation was well-known. However, most people did not take vaccines from fear that it would make them sick, rather than prevent future sicknesses. When the four-year-old son of Benjamin Franklin, an advocate of vaccines, died of smallpox, people even suspected that vaccines could kill even though the son had not been vaccinated. Regardless, vaccines proved to be useful throughout history and eventually, the world now favors vaccines to such a point that those who refuse to be vaccinated are ridiculed. It is estimated that the use of vaccines help prevent over 1.5 million deaths a year and 5 deaths a minute. 

It is proven that vaccines help prevent infectious diseases. Should it be mandatory for all people to get vaccines? Many countries have required vaccines in children. In all 50 states, public schools require children to be vaccinated to attend. Very few can be exempted from the vaccination requirement. In France, child vaccination laws have become stricter despite the fact that ⅓ of French adults don’t like vaccines.

Research has been done about these “anti-vaxxers” as to why they refuse to take vaccines. In a special edition of the science journal Vaccine, different researchers shared their theories regarding those who find vaccines dangerous. The journal pointed out that while aware of the benefits of vaccines, people could refuse because of other priorities like religion. People of different cultures and religions may be slow to warm up to the idea of vaccines, even when presented with the fact that vaccines truly help. 

Vaccines have improved health since the first Chinese smallpox inoculation in year 1000. Those who refuse to take vaccines could be harming our society as people get infected through them. Millions of lives, especially those of children, could be saved a year if vaccines were made available to developing countries. If vaccines were made mandatory across the world, the result will be beneficial for all as people get healthier and safer.