Measles outbreak fuels debate on liability for not vaccinating children

A recent measles outbreak at Disneyland has fueled the debate on whether the choice to vaccinate a child should lead to liability.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or CDC, reports that 170 people from throughout the United States were diagnosed with measles from January 1st to February 27th of 2015. 125 of these cases were connected to an outbreak linked to the Disneyland amusement park in California. The CDC reports that it believes the outbreak began with a traveler from overseas, but that the majority of people who contract the disease when exposed are not properly vaccinated. Furthermore, the agency states that although the disease was once thought to be eradicated from the United States, it could spread through the country if it reaches a community that has groups of people that are not vaccinated.

This is a potential issue as the anti-vaccination movement continues. Those who oppose this movement against vaccinations voice concerns that parents who choose not to vaccinate their children for personal reasons are putting others at risk. As a result, this group is calling for parents who choose not to vaccinate to be held liable for their actions if their child is responsible for spreading the disease to others.

Vaccinations and Pennsylvania state law

The laws governing vaccinate vary by state. In Pennsylvania, children attending kindergarten through high school are required to have vaccinations for tetanus, diphtheria, polio, measles, mumps, rubella and hepatitis B as well as either a vaccine for varicella (chickenpox) or evidence of immunity. Once a child reaches the seventh grade, the student should also receive the meningococcal conjugate vaccine and the Tdap or tetanus, diphtheria and acellular pertussis vaccine if five years have passed since the last tetanus shot.

Although these vaccines are required, there are exemptions. Parents can opt out from the vaccination requirement for medical reasons, religious beliefs or a third category defined as philosophical, moral or strong ethical convictions against vaccinations.

Steps to take if a child is injured

There are many instances where a person or business can be held liable for the injury of a child. Choosing to vaccinate a child does not generally fall under this umbrella. However, there is a push for legislators to enact laws that would hold parents accountable for this decision if it leads to the injury of others.

This is just one example of the need for legal counsel if your child is injured due to the negligent or reckless act of another. The law is constantly evolving, and holding another accountable for their actions can lead to compensation that can help cover the costly medical and rehabilitative bills connected with the injury.

Keywords: personal injury