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Childhood Vaccination: Policy-Priority Issues

The issue of vaccinations is often discussed on an international level. Governments do not underestimate the importance of immunization. However, it is regularly undermined by citizens, who believe that vaccination of their children is not necessary. In fact, many states, including the state of Florida, have special exemption policies that allow parents to refuse immunization of their children. While the option for people to exempt from getting vaccinated is a valid right, this procedure should not depend on one’s religious beliefs as the lack of necessary vaccination may pose a threat to the health of an entire community. This problem should be reevaluated on the state level. Senator Rodriguez is the legislator in the state of Florida (The Florida Senate, 2017). This paper discusses the issue of childhood vaccination and exemption in the state of Florida and provides evidence that supports the issue’s significance.

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Key Points

The Central Issue

The problem of vaccination is a topic of debate for many individuals. Many misunderstandings surrounding immunization revolve around the necessity of it. For instance, according to Wang, Clymer, Davis-Hayes, and Buttenheim (2014), many people believe that healthy children do not need to be vaccinated. The number of people that support exemption from immunization grows every year. The significance of this issue cannot be overstated as vaccination exemption exposes healthy persons to potential infection and distribution of commutable diseases. In the state of Florida, people are allowed to refuse immunization to their children on the basis of religious beliefs (Florida Health, 2017). This action gives parents and legal guardians an opportunity to admit their children to a school without the otherwise required vaccinations. Thus, children who do not receive a vaccine are open to many diseases and viruses. Moreover, the vulnerability of these children may significantly affect the health of their peers.

While it is hard to oppose one’s rights for exemption, it is necessary to create a framework that would educate people about the possible outcomes of their decisions. Thus, there exists a need for a campaign related to this issue. Moreover, changing the regulatory process and ensuring the safety of children and surrounding individuals is also advisable. Communities, where people exempt from getting vaccinated, are often at a much higher risk of various outbreaks (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2017). The harmful myths about the immunization of children should also be addressed as they significantly affect people’s perceptions and decisions.

Goals and Solutions

Some possible goals and solutions can be reviewed in relation to this problem. First of all, it is vital to note that one’s religious freedom should not affect the state of other children’s health. As Diekema (2014) points out, people exist in a community. Thus, they influence and depend on each other in all spheres of life. The health of these individuals can be affected by their choices as well, regardless of their initial intentions. One’s decision not to get vaccinated or to exempt his or her child from doing the same may endanger other persons in the area. Therefore, the goal of this proposition is to raise awareness about group responsibility and propose a more sensible system for an exemption that would require some exceptions. For instance, while individuals can still ask to ignore some types of vaccines, vaccination against the most dangerous diseases should be mandatory to decrease the risk of an outbreak. This solution may be a viable compromise that would ensure the safety of children and other members of the community.

Moreover, the process of obtaining a non-medical extension can be made more complicated to discourage people from participating in this process. This action may include providing people with some facts about vaccination, shortening the period of exemption or restricting the use of this document to private organizations and facilities. In this case, the importance of ensuring community health should be outlined for every individual. Moreover, the issue of misrepresentation of some information related to vaccinations should be discussed as well. A goal of providing individuals with extensive information about advantages and disadvantages of immunization should become one of the leading drivers of this issue.

Problem Monitoring

The current status of this problem is monitored by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2017), which collects all existing data about the state of vaccine requirements for different parts of the country. Many websites provide information on the status of this issue as well. However, the information on these sites cannot be considered viable as these are not owned by professional organizations or governmental institutions. This issue involves the local and state levels of government, with an immediate target on the state level. While it is possible to gather support on the local basis, only state government can take action.

Analysis of Evidence

The documented evidence of outcomes to the lack of immunization can reveal the importance of this issue. For instance, the data from one of the recent incidents in California shows the extent that this problem can reach (Gostin, 2015). According to the author, the number of parents that decide to exempt their children from getting vaccinated grows every year. At the same time, the number of cases where not immunized people get infected with vaccine-preventable diseases increases as well. The link between these facts is also supported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2017), which outlines the correlation between territories that support non-medical exemptions and a higher risk of infection. According to Gostin (2015), this debate is further exacerbated by the fact that “unvaccinated children put the wider public at risk, violating a basic ethical principle of not imposing harms on others” (p. 1100). The study by Wang et al. (2014) supports this claim by stating that the risk of vaccine-preventable outbreak increases in communities with a high enough number of individuals with non-medical exemptions. These examples provide extensive evidence to corroborate the presented issue.

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Importance to Nursing

This problem is directly connected to the roles of nurses in a community as it discusses the health of groups and individuals. Moreover, the main problem of this situation involves one’s lack of awareness about a medical subject that deals with public health. It is vital for nurses to take action and eliminate the misunderstandings linked to vaccination. Moreover, community health education and promotion of wellness are also the duties of every nursing professional. The health of children is especially important as it relates to the nurses’ course for the future. This particular policy-related issue can greatly impact nurses and their practice. The changes proposed in this paper can encourage nurses to center their attention on children’s health and well-being.


The policy-priority issue of childhood vaccination implies that the health of an entire community should not be compromised by a number of individual decisions. It is necessary to address the misconceptions about vaccination and create a plan that would promote immunization as a way to prevent various diseases. Such solutions as creating a limited and temporary non-medical exemption and raising awareness about community health and well-being should be brought to attention of the state government. Various studies find a link between higher numbers of non-medical exemptions and higher risks of outbreaks. This issue is important to all individuals of the community, including nurses who can impact the course of action and help people to gather more knowledge on the topic.


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2017). State vaccination requirements. Web.

Diekema, D. S. (2014). Personal belief exemptions from school vaccination requirements. Annual Review of Public Health, 35, 275-292.

Florida Health. (2017). Exemption from required immunizations. Web.

Gostin, L. O. (2015). Law, ethics, and public health in the vaccination debates: Politics of the measles outbreak. Jama, 313(11), 1099-1100.

The Florida Senate. (2017). Senator Rodriguez. Web.

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Wang, E., Clymer, J., Davis-Hayes, C., & Buttenheim, A. (2014). Nonmedical exemptions from school immunization requirements: A systematic review. American Journal of Public Health, 104(11), e62-e84.

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