Compulsory Vaccination Laws are Constitutional
Erwin Chemerinsky and Michele Bratcher Goodwin, Compulsory Vaccination Laws are Constitutional, 110 Nw. U. L. Rev. 589 (2016).
In this Article, we focus on the constitutional issues concerning compulsory vaccination laws. Our position is that every state should require compulsory vaccination of all children, unless there is a medical reason why the child should not be vaccinated. In other words, there should be no exception to the compulsory vaccination requirement on account of the parents’ religion, philosophy, or conscience or for any reason other than medical necessity. Simply put, the government’s interest in protecting children and the preventing the spread of communicable disease justifies mandatory vaccinations for all children in the United States. We expound on these ideas in three parts. In Part I of this Article, we briefly describe the history of compulsory vaccination laws in the United States. Part II explains why such laws are desirable and why every state should require compulsory vaccination with only a medical exception. Finally, Part III looks at the possible constitutional objections based on free exercise of religion and the right of parents to control the upbringing of their children. We conclude that these arguments are not a basis for invalidating compulsory vaccination laws.
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