Why America Needs To Follow In France's Footsteps And Make Vaccinations Mandatory

A long, contentious, and mostly parental debate has swirled around the topic of vaccination for decades now in America.

But on July 5, Newsweek reported that, in France, by 2018, parents will be required to have their children vaccinated, no matter what.

The announcement came from French Prime Minister Édouard Philippe during an address to Parliament, and the decision has come partially on the heels of a rising incidence in Europe of child deaths from measles.

The virus is a highly contagious human disease that affects the respiratory tract, and is a leading cause of children's deaths worldwide.

But that deadly spread can be contained with the simple MMR vaccine, which protects against measles, mumps, and rubella.

So if vaccines do so much good for so many people, why are Americans still so afraid of them?

Basically, vaccines are an injection of a substance that resemble a pathogen -- microorganisms that cause disease. This action activates the acquired immune system to learn how to fight those pathogens, and ones that resemble it. 

And yes, while some simply don't trust the process, the science behind how and why vaccines work, the research has been verified repeatedly as a measure that prevents the spread of infectious diseases and promotes children's long-term health.

Both the Center for Disease Control and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommend parents get their children immunized for 16 diseases that can have adverse or fatal effects on little kids.

Many of the vaccines that are recommended happen on a schedule before the age of six, to protect the vulnerability of still-developing immune systems.

So, to say the least, as Mary Glodé, MD, professor of pediatrics at the University of Colorado in Denver, told Parents, "immunizations are simply one of the greatest public health achievements" in this country.

But Americans continue to be afraid of completely unfounded and unscientific fears associated with vaccination.

Those who are staunchly opposed to vaccines typically cite potential allergic or fatal reactions, harmful ingredients found in the vaccines, unnecessary government involvement, and (debunked) links to autism.

But what is, by far, more important, is the potential spread of deadly diseases, should enough parents choose not to vaccinate their children.

Dr. Paul Offit, director of the Vaccine Education Center at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, told Huffington Post,

When you see a fraying of community immunity, the contagious diseases are the ones that ... start to come back.

He added that the measles are basically the “miner's canary” of infectious diseases. The risk of disease spread increases exponentially when certain portions of a population don't immunize their children.

As for the United States, there are currently no federal requirements for vaccinations for children -- they are decided and regulated on a state-by-state basis.