Vaccinations Autism and the Argument over Mandatory Essay

Total Length: 407 words ( 1 double-spaced pages)

Total Sources: 5

Wakefield’s original claim that vaccinations are linked to autism in children “has been fully debunked,” tainted with “suspicions of fraud,” (Pierik, 2017, p. 221). Moreover, there has not been a single peer-reviewed study capable of substantiating Wakefield’s claim, which has been called “the most damaging medical hoax of the last 100 years,” (Flaherty, 2011, p. 1302). The reason why the anti-vaccination hysteria is considered a major public health crisis is because of the potential death toll that could arise from an unvaccinated public exposed to communicable diseases like measles and mumps. An unvaccinated person has a 90% chance of becoming infected with measles; the most recent outbreak in France led to 5000 patients being hospitalized and ten deaths (Pierik, 2016, p. 2). In fact, out of every 1000 infected children, one or two will die and as many as fifty will contract pneumonia as a result (Pierik, 2016, p. 2).

Unfortunately, “the rate of not vaccinating children continues to rise and these unvaccinated children pose risk to others who are unable to receive vaccines and compromise the core herd immunity,” (Shapiro, 2016, p. 1). Herd immunity refers to the critical mass of people required to prevent an infectious disease from posing a threat.

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In generating concern about autism, parents are exposing their child—and the entire society—to deadly diseases. A recent survey revealed that while vaccination rates have gone up twelve percent since 2013, refusal rates have also risen from 2.5% to an astonishing four percent in 2016 (Fox, 2018).

The counter-argument is rooted in religious freedom. Yet mandatory vaccination seems like a justifiable infringement on individual rights considering the far more pressing danger of exposing the entire populace to preventable and deadly illnesses. According to the World Health Organization (n.d.), one in ten infants do not receive vaccinations—including in developing countries. Countries like the United States can afford universal mandatory vaccinations, and should mandate vaccinations based on ethical principles.


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Flaherty, D.K. (2011). The vaccine-autism connection. Annals of Pharmacotherapy 45(10): 1302-1304.

Fox, M. (2018). Vaccine rates are up, but so are refusals. NBC News.

Pierik, R. (2016). Mandatory vaccination. Journal of Applied Psychology 35(2): 381-398.

Pierik, R. (2017). On religious and secular exemptions: A case study of childhood vaccination waivers. Ethnicities 17(2): 220-241.

Shapiro, Y. (2016). Vaccinations: Weighing the Risks and Benefits. The Science Journal of the Lander College of Arts and Sciences, 9 (2). Retrieved from
World Health Organization (n.d.). Vaccination coverage.

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