DON JURAVIN: HOW LAWMAKERS CAN ENCOURAGE AMERICANS TO VACCINATE

DON JURAVIN: HOW LAWMAKERS CAN ENCOURAGE AMERICANS TO VACCINATE

HOLY LAND MINISTRY (nonprofit) analyzed the universal problem that has hit Western Civilization: how do we get people to vaccinate their children? There have been a handful of legislative attempts but almost no avail. The anti-vaxx movement has been growing rapidly. More strenuous regulation is needed to solve the problem. 

Question: What can the United States government do to help enforce vaccines?

Juravin answers that politicians and legislators need to put more laws in place to stop the vaccine crisis. 

VACCINATION RESEARCH SUMMARY

  • 4 states require citizens to vaccinate their children, with no exceptions
  • In the past ten years, the number of parents “opting out” of vaccinations has quadrupled. 
  • 50 states require vaccinations in order for children to be entered into public schools. 
  • 17 states allow parents to “opt-out” for “philosophical reasons.” 
  • 28 percent of parents feel that vaccines hurt their children. 
  • Only 66 percent of parents in the United States believe their children should be vaccinated. 

With measles coming back with a vengeance in the United States of America, some states are starting to take action by creating bills that force parents to vaccinate their children-  even if they don’t believe in vaccines. Maine is one of four states thus far who is trying to fix things, alongside California, Mississippi and West Virginia. The bill has even gone so far as to not allow for religious or philosophical exemptions, which has many parents enraged.

The Hill reports that only a few days after the state of Maine saw its first case of measles in many years, Governor Janet Mills has supposedly already signed the bill, “ending most non-medical exemptions for mandatory childhood vaccines.” What this means is that it will now be up to doctors to determine if a child can go without vaccinations due to allergic reactions or other medical reasons. Juravin observes that many fear that this will cause a lot of issues, given it takes away partial rights of the parents to make the decision themselves. In addition, parents know that a medical exemption will probably not come easily. 

While overall vaccination rates have risen over the past 10 years, the number of parents opting out of all vaccines has quadrupled. This has led to several outbreaks and has chipped away at the country’s “herd immunity,” which protects the population as a whole — particularly the most vulnerable — from infectious diseases.

Juravin found that officials are struggling to reverse this trend and convince parents to vaccinate their children. Some state legislators are reconsidering the “philosophical exemption” opt-out (still available in 17 states), while others have broached the idea of allowing minors to be vaccinated without parental consent. Others have suggested that certain government services — such as access to public schools and certain welfare programs — be contingent on vaccinating a child.

Yet many of these policies would only affect cash-strapped families — those who depend on government assistance programs and rarely have a choice beyond public schools. It does not affect wealthier families that can afford private schools. There needs to be a broader way to force vaccinations

Families that rely on government assistance are just about as likely as wealthier Americans to make sure their children have the most common vaccinations. In California, the big clusters of children without vaccines live not in poorer ZIP codes, but in upscale locations like Sonoma and Marin counties.

SOLVING THE VACCINE EPIDEMIC

  • 764 cases of measles have been reported in the United States in the year 2019. 
  • The United States broke the previous record from 2014 for reported cases of measles. 
  • One unvaccinated child costs the state of Oregon $1 million in medical bills. 
  • 1.3 percent of children born in 2015 were not vaccinated.
  • 3.98 million children were born in 2015. 
  • 59,700 children were not vaccinated in 2015. 
  • This could cost $59.7 billion in medical bills. 

Legislation and business ideas are the way to fix the anti-vaxxing movement. Conservatives and liberals alike could embrace public policies that encourage everyone — poor and wealthy — to vaccinate their children. However, while these strategies might put in place the rubrics, they might fail to completely solve the problem. Society can address that in other ways. 

The pressures of money can eradicate part of the problem. Private health insurers should be allowed to impose a surcharge on parents who opt out of vaccines for non-medical reasons. Insurance always charges more when there is more risk of disease or injury. If there is a high chance that a child will get measles or whooping cough, it makes sense in terms of business to charge for the cost of treating that disease. 

According to Juravin, current federal law may forbid insurers from taking pre-existing conditions into account when setting rates, but it does allow them to consider whether an individual smokes — and to impose a surcharge on that individual. Like smoking, refusing to have a child vaccinated for a non-medical reason is choice and can have monumental financial costs — one unvaccinated boy in Oregon ran up medical bills over $1 million — meaning that a surcharge on such a decision is justified. 

Allowing insurers to impose non-vaccination surcharges would make evident the financial costs of not having a child vaccinated, potentially forcing parents to think twice before opting out. There should be more practical consequences to not vaccinating in order to make people ponder their decisions more fully. State regulations could limit surcharges to ensure they don’t put insurance itself out of parents’ reach. 

However, there needs to be more put in place for parents who can afford the insurance hike and the fines. People in a wealthier bracket are just as likely to avoid vaccinations, and just as susceptible to the anti-vaccination propaganda. In fact, one of the bigger outbreaks of measles was in Disneyland, California, where children from upper-class families who were not vaccinated spread the disease. 

Second, the federal government should fund and encourage states to set up and study vaccination-exemption monitoring programs modeled off existing efforts to monitor drug prescriptions. Currently, a tiny number of irresponsible doctors have embraced discredited theories about vaccines and offer “medical” exemptions to parents who simply ask for them. Unfortunately, there’s no way to spot these doctors, making them difficult to hold accountable. 

Credit And Research By:

Research DOI: 10.5281/zenodo.3546465

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