The Anti-Vaccine Backlash Is Spreading Around the World — Will the U.S. Be Next?

People in Italy protested the enacting of a law that makes 16 different vaccinations mandatory for school-aged children. Italy, Australia, and many other countries are enacting more aggressive action against parents who refuse to vaccinate their children. (Photo: Getty Images)

As parents around the world have been increasingly deciding not to get their children immunized, so, too, have governments increased their efforts to help stop these anti-vaccine behaviors. An increasing number of countries are resorting to punishing parents for not properly immunizing their children.

Arguing that refusing to vaccinate your children puts them in harms way, not to mention the children of other citizens, as well as contributing to potential deadly outbreaks, countries like Italy have enforced fines when parents opt out. Following a recent outbreak of the measles the Italian parliament passed a mandatory vaccination law for children under the age of 16. Australia has recently followed suit, while also adding penalties for schools that allow children without vaccinations to attend.

It seems that the more aggressive and widespread the anti-vax movement grows, the response from governments becomes equally aggressive. Will the same thing happen in the United States? There are laws in place across all 50 states, but there are many ways parents can opt out including for religious, moral, or philosophical reasons.

An analysis from the website Vox.com points that tightening up the various exemptions would go a long way in improving vaccination rates, seemingly without needing to resort to punishments or fines for parents and schools. States with the strictest regulations regarding opting out — such as Mississippi and West Virginia — turn out to have the highest vaccination rates in the country.

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