What Works in Vaccination Policy?

May 11, 2015

Edward Jenner demonstrated inoculation in 1796. Vaccination has been a controversial topic ever since because it potentially pits the rights of the individual against the rights of the public. In Europe and North America, the problem is cyclical. When out breaks are prevalent, vaccination becomes popular. Governments pursue vaccination campaigns, social commentary sings the praises of inoculation, and parents faced with a highrisk of infection tend to vaccinate their children.

However, once a population is sufficiently inoculated such that outbreaks become rare, the emphasis fades, and parents lose their motivation to vaccinate. Without social pressure and apparent risk, parents become more likely to seek religious or philosophical exemptions from vaccination requirements or, in the absence of such requirements, to neglect vaccination all together. Vaccination rates fall, outbreaks increase, and the cycle begins again.

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