Debates over childhood vaccinations have been generating controversy throughout the country. On one side, ‘anti-vaxxers’ claim it is their right to choose not to vaccinate their children against measles or other diseases. On the other, public health officials and concerned parents claim their behavior is both reckless and negligent, putting innocent people at risk. In Vancouver recently, the governor of Washington took the dramatic step of requiring that all children attending private or public schools and day care centers be vaccinated. While those opposed to the move claim it violates their rights, it could also open them and others up to legal liability through personal injury claims.
The anti-vax controversy is nothing new. Close to five years ago, Forbes did an exhaustive report highlighting the issue and the opposing sides involved. Parents opposed to vaccinations for measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) claim the vaccine is unnecessary and that these diseases have all been eradicated. They also claim vaccines can lead to autism in children, despite little medical evidence to support this theory. The thinking is that since most children are vaccinated, the odds are good that a child who has not received the vaccine will never be exposed.
Unfortunately, this has not held true over the years. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), nearly 900 cases of measles have been reported over the first five months of 2019 alone, which is the highest number of cases since 1994. While the disease was officially declared eliminated in 2000, cases keep popping up throughout the United States, with the highest number along the west coast, in states such as California, Oregon, and Washington.
Holding Parents and Day Care Centers Accountable
Stories involving outbreaks of measles and the devastating consequences have become common as well. Anti-vax parents claim their child do not pose a threat to others, but medical experts claim the opposite is true. Very Well Health reports that as outbreaks reach epidemic levels, those at risk include:
- Children who are too young to get the vaccine and those who have not received the full series;
- People with compromised immune systems, which makes them more susceptible to the measles virus, despite vaccinations;
- Those who do not contract the disease but still suffer serious complications as a result of the virus.
As a way of protecting both vaccinated and unvaccinated children, the Columbian reports that Washington Governor Jay Inslee signed House Bill 1638 into law on May 10, 2019. The law makes the MMR vaccine mandatory for children enrolled in schools or daycare. The new law could also give parents whose child contracted the disease a way to hold anti-vax parents and school administrators accountable for any damages their child suffers.
Reach Out to Our Vancouver Personal Injury Attorneys
When the reckless actions of others cause harm to you or your family members, the Johnston Law Firm is here to help. Call (503) 546-3167 or contact our Vancouver personal injury attorneys online and request a free consultation today.