Public health and the politics of school immunization requirements

Daniel A. Salmon, Jason W. Sapsin, Stephen Teret, Richard F. Jacobs, Joseph W. Thompson, Kevin Ryan, Neal A. Halsey

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

47 Scopus citations


Compulsory vaccination has contributed to the enormous success of US immunization programs. Movements to introduce broad "philosophical/personal beliefs" exemptions administered without adequate public health oversight threaten this success. Health professionals and child welfare advocates must address these developments in order to maintain the effectiveness of the nation's mandatory school vaccination programs. We review recent events regarding mandatory immunization in Arkansas and discuss a proposed nonmedical exemption designed to allow constitutionally permissible, reasonable, health-oriented administrative control over exemptions. The proposal may be useful in political environments that preclude the use of only medical exemptions. Our observations may assist states whose current nonmedical exemption provisions are constitutionally suspect as well as states lacking legally appropriate administrative controls on existing, broad nonmedical exemptions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)778-783
Number of pages6
JournalAmerican journal of public health
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2005

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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