The first thing I want to do in this debate is clarify that if there is a medical reason why a child is unvaccinated they would still be allowed to attend public school. The people we need to target with this policy are those parents who refuse vaccines for ideological or political reasons. There is a real and present danger to public health when children are not vaccinated and the government has a duty to defend the safety of the wider public more than it does to provide individual children education.
1. Danger of Unvaccinated Children
Vaccinations are designed to make the patient immune to that particular disease (http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/parents/vaccine-decision/prevent-diseases.html). If a child is not vaccinated they have the potential to become infected or to become carriers. This means that other children who are to young or cannot be vaccinated due to medical reasons are at greater risk of infection. They are also likely to be suffer from the disease much more. The close proximity of children and the fact that food is prepared and eaten in the canteens makes the school a good environment for the spread of disease similar to the poor living environments in the UK in the 1700 and 1800's when smallpox was a deadly threat (https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/465843/2015_Oct_205_ImmunisationTimeline.pdf). Vaccines have now eradicated smallpox and have prevented millions of deaths from other diseases (http://www.unicef.org/pon96/hevaccin.htm). Using vaccines along with clean housing good hygiene practices along for the effective control of diseases however eradication is only possible when enough people have been vaccinated such that it is impossible for the disease to thrive. Unvaccinated children therefore are a danger to other vulnerable children and cause a risk of local epidemics.
2. Balance of Governmental Duties
Governments do have a duty to provide education however this duty is already lessened because Governments only have a duty to teach a limited amount of subjects so this is not a universal duty. This extends to a Government not having a universal duty to provide education when there is a real and present threat faced to staff and other pupils (first argument). We must preserve life at all costs for there to be any purpose in education because we cannot provide education for the vulnerable children who have died as a result of infection while at school. This right is still extended to children who are unvaccinated due to medical reasons because to receive a vaccine is not an option therefore it is not their choice to remain unvaccinated. They are at risk and the Government has a double duty to provide them education but also do everything possible to keep them safe during that education. This is because children are in the care of the Government via teachers while they are attending public schools. The Government has less ability and less of a duty to implement these practices within private schools because parents are paying to have their children educated outside Governmental care. However I do believe if the Government implements this policy many private schools would have similar policies due to health risks outlined in my first argument.
3. Parental Incentives to Vaccinate
Many parents who choose not to get their children vaccinated can not comprehend the harms this can cause other children. They simply see the scary thought of a child getting sick after a vaccination. This policy changes the motive calculus because it ties the education of their child to getting a vaccine. This means more parents are likely to get their children vaccinated cause they generally see a positive value to a child being educated. Even if a small minority still choose not to vaccinate their child they will probably be homeschooled which at least makes disease containment easier.
To conclude, the government has a duty to prevent disease and this policy makes it easier to eradicate diseases.
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2016-02-21 20:30:20| Speak Round