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Warning Shots

Vaccination Or Not?

Schools experience side effects from mandated vaccination.

Ultimatums in Maryland and New Jersey have injected school administrations into the vaccination debate. Both states recently added new vaccination requirements for public school students, and have threatened to bar students from school or even jail parents who do not follow the new mandates. It’s led to a maelstrom of controversy, particularly among parents who wish to opt their kids out. A small percentage of parents nationwide, less than one percent, don’t immunize their children for religious reasons, and are often granted waivers. But other parents decline vaccinations for philosophical reasons, or due to fear of side effects—including a widespread fear that certain mercury-containing vaccine preservatives might be a factor in autism. It’s led to a standoff between these parents and state governments, with public schools caught in the middle.

In November, the Prince George’s County Public School system, one of the largest in the region, sent letters to some 800 households saying that their kids would be barred from school unless the children received vaccines for hepatitis B, chicken pox, polio, mumps, and measles, among others. If parents kept their kids out of school rather than submit to the mandate, they could face a $50-per-day fine, and even 10 days in jail, under current state law.

New Jersey
The New Jersey Department of Health ordered in December that public school sixth graders will now be mandated to receive a meningitis vaccine as well as tetanus, whooping cough, and diphtheria boosters. All preschool children under the age of 5 will be required to have annual flu and pneumonia shots. Parents who decline to do so will have their children banned from school. As a result, some parents are choosing to homeschool their children rather than submit to the mandate.

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