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In January 2019 The World Health Organization (WHO) released its list Ten threats to global health in 2019. For the first time ever, vaccine hesitancy, “the reluctance or refusal to vaccinate despite the availability of vaccine services” is officially on the list.1 Although great progress has been made in reducing or eradicating various diseases such as polio, measles, and whooping cough (pertussis), the number of parents refusing vaccination for their children is growing rapidly in what is now often referred to as the “anti-vaccination movement” ( or “anti-vax movement”). This is causing a threat to public health as the lowered proportion of vaccine uptake within communities is triggering a reversal of the progress made by vaccination thus far through a weakening herd immunity, putting everyone at a greater risk of contracting and spreading infectious diseases.2 According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), so far in 2019 the United States has already faced three outbreaks of the measles, a disease previously considered eliminated in the United States, in New York City, New York state, and Washington state.3 Each outbreak was found in areas with particularly low vaccination rates.4

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.


Medicine and Health Sciences | Public Health

Public Health and Personal Choice: The Ethics of Vaccine Mandates and Parental Refusal in the United States

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