By Emma Davies
Emma Davies is a freshman in the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Pennsylvania.
Anti-vaccine rhetoric and practices continues to hold a seat in public discourse, despite intensive research to refute myths and countless examples of its effectiveness in not only combating communicable diseases, but reducing risk of certain cancers . Refueled in recent years by social media and online platforms, “a emotional contagion, digitally enabled”, as termed by Heidi Larson in Nature has begun to endanger even more individuals that before . In fact, this year, the World Health Organization recognized vaccine hesitancy- the voluntary reluctance to vaccinate- as one of the top 10 global health threats , such that diseases that were once considered extinct or near extinct in certain countries are re-emerging. The United States alone saw 372 cases of measles in 2018, despite once being considered an “eliminated” disease . The emerging growth of vaccine hesitancy, coupled with the re-emergence of preventable diseases, thus prompts the need for an important discussion of the legal bounds of vaccine refusal with particular emphasis on the dynamic of parental decisions and child welfare.