Ethics and childhood vaccination policy in the United States

Kristin S. Hendrix, Lynne A. Sturm, Gregory D. Zimet, Eric M. Meslin

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

22 Scopus citations


Childhood immunization involves a balance between parents' autonomy in deciding whether to immunize their children and the benefits to public health frommandating vaccines. Ethical concerns about pediatric vaccination span several public health domains, including those of policymakers, clinicians, and other professionals. In light of ongoing developments and debates, we discuss several key ethical issues concerning childhood immunization in the United States and describe how they affect policy development and clinical practice. We focus on ethical considerations pertaining to herd immunity as a community good, vaccine communication, dismissal of vaccine-refusing families from practice, and vaccine mandates. Clinicians and policymakers need to consider the nature and timing of vaccine-related discussions and invoke deliberative approaches to policymaking.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)273-278
Number of pages6
JournalAmerican journal of public health
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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