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Mandatory Vaccination: An Unqualified Defence

Journal of Applied Philosophy

Published online on


The 2015 Disneyland outbreak of measles in the US unequivocally brought to light what had been brewing below the surface for a while: a slow but steady decline in vaccination rates resulting in a rising number of outbreaks. This can be traced back to an increasing public questioning of vaccines by an emerging anti‐vaccination movement. This article argues that, in the face of diminishing vaccination rates, childhood vaccinations should not be seen as part of the domain of parental choice but, instead, as a non‐negotiable legal obligation. The first part of the article formulates and defends two arguments in favour of unqualified mandatory childhood vaccination laws. First, government should not permit parents to put their children at avoidable risk of death and suffering; second, government should guard the common good of herd immunity to protect vulnerable persons. The second part rejects legal and pragmatic objections against such mandatory vaccination laws.