In California and many other states, parents are already required to vaccinate their children and provide those records before a child can attend a public school, with one important exception.
Parents whose religion prohibits medical treatment and those who simply do not believe in the proven efficacy of vaccination can choose to exempt their children from the required vaccinations. In fact, those who object for religious reasons are not even required to seek the medical opinion of an authorized healthcare practitioner if their religion prohibits doing so.
The state of California is considering eliminating the loophole that allows those with religious or personal belief-based objections to forego vaccinating their children before they attend public schools and community colleges.
There is nothing wrong with the government allowing people to freely practice their religion. Freedom to worship without fear of persecution is the basis of our national identity. But when a parent is allowed to expose their child, and every child around him or her, to diseases that were supposed to have been eradicated decades ago, that is no longer an issue of personal freedom.
There are some decisions a parent should not be allowed to make for his or her child, and that includes anything that puts a minor at risk of injury or death.
However, if we as a society are going to allow a group of religious zealots with an tenuous grasp on medical science to endanger their own children, then we have to draw the line somewhere. That somewhere should be our public school system.
There are other options for those people who don’t care if their child spreads disease to other children, such as private religious schools for their denominations or home schooling. It’s not the place of religion to dictate public health and safety practices in federal and state-funded institutions. It is also, admittedly, not the place of the government to force a needle into their child’s arm against their will.
The obvious and simple solution is to lay down the law, and declare that anyone unwilling to conform to regulations meant to protect other children should not be allowed to introduce dangerous pathogens into the general K-12 population.
There is no sense arguing against the logic employed by those who do not believe in vaccination, and that isn’t the point. The issue here is the safety of the children of those reasonably-minded parents who choose to listen to the science and advice of medical professionals.
There is no reason a person who cites a long-debunked study about a fictitious link between vaccination and autism should have the ability to endanger another person’s child.