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Should Parents Face Jail Time for Not Vaccinating Kids?

After realizing that more than 2,000 students in a Maryland county still didn’t have the vaccinations they were supposed to have before attending class, a judge ordered parents to appear at the courthouse to either get their children vaccinated on the spot or risk up to ten days in jail. They could also provide proof of vaccination or an explanation of why their kids didn’t have them.

Seems rather harsh to me, especially since most of the parents had gotten their kids vaccinated but claim the school lost the records. What do you guys think — should parents face jail time for not vaccinating their children?


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Sarsaparilla Sarsaparilla 9 years
Hi, I read fitsugar everyday and I joined today to comment on this post... Has anyone ever heard of the Tuskegee Study ? It is not exactly about childrens vaccinations but it kind of relevant. Basically some goverment researchers thought it was ok to mess around with the health of a group of black men, they told them they were giving them "free medical exams, free meals and free burial insurance. " because they had "bad blood" which in actuality was syphilis, and the "The study was conducted to determine from autopsies what the disease (syphilis) does to the human body." Here is an excerpt: At the start of the study, there was no proven treatment for syphilis. But even after penicillin became a standard cure for the disease in 1947, the medicine was withheld from the men. The Tuskegee scientists wanted to continue to study how the disease spreads and kills. The experiment lasted four decades, until public health workers leaked the story to the media. By then, dozens of the men had died, and many wives and children had been infected. In 1973, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) filed a class-action lawsuit. A $9 million settlement was divided among the study's participants. Free health care was given to the men who were still living, and to infected wives, widows and children. But it wasn't until 1997 that the government formally apologized for the unethical study. I know that this is a major reason why blacks are distrustful of vaccinations, studies etc. I know some claims about the negatives of vaccinations seem far fetched but the goverment has made medical "mistakes" in the past whats to stop them from doig so now.
sarahb sarahb 9 years
Some vaccines have heavy metals in them, like mercury. If a parent doesn't want to inject their child with a vaccination that might have even a slight chance of having a negative effect on their health then that's their choice. Jail time is ridiculous; it's equating it with some kind of neglect or child abuse.
aimeeb aimeeb 9 years
I think jail time is completely overboard!
EllaBella EllaBella 9 years
Kids need their parents at home not in jail...
princessangry princessangry 9 years
I have been follwowing this discussion with interest. While I am undecided about the issue, I too want to know - who will look after the children while the parents are in jail? Aren't jails overcrowded enough?
Soniabonya Soniabonya 9 years
I definetly believe in vaccinations/immunizations especially with immigrants coming to the country, some of them bringing diseases that had been pretty much obliterated in the U.S. Measles, polio anyone? I do believe tho, that for non life threatening illnesses like chicken pox, there's no need for vaccinations. So IMO, jail them if they're not immunized.
I do not agree with mandatory vaccinations. Out government lies to us about what is and isn't healthy to consume. They're still denying the link between Autism and thimerosol, because they've basically refused to perform the research. Until they can be up front about what they are putting into our children's bloodstream, or what the actual cause of this Autism Epidemic is, no thank you.
0danielle0 0danielle0 9 years
From what I remember, there are links between vaccinations and autism. That's not to say I won't vaccinate my children, but I DO NOT think vaccinations should be mandatory!
facin8me facin8me 9 years
Right on fsquassh. laura6567, are you are aware that the reason why people with egg allergies "are fine" is because all the people around you are vaccinated? You say that getting a vaccine is no "end all be all" of disease- really? Polio? Smallpox? Oh, and since you're in the scientific field, maybe you're aware that there is more that just one kind flu. Maybe you're aware that since the surface glycoproteins of influenza A are constantly mutating, the flu shot every year is based on the current strains that have been found and predicted to be pathogenic. That's why some people get the vaccine still get the flu- because they were exposed to a strain that was not included in the year's vaccine. You are right that there are people who don't get the flu shot that don't get the flu, but they probably weren't exposed to the flu, so that's just common sense. You say that you don't want these decisions taken out of parents hands, but the decision hasn't been taken out of their hands. They can choose not to vaccinate and they can choose to homeschool their children.
fsquaash fsquaash 9 years
My brother has autism and vaccinations did NOT cause it. Also, I think it distracts from REAL AUTISM RESEARCH BY ACCREDITED SCIENTISTS when websites point the finger at the vaccinations. Parents are free to not vaccinate their kids IF they will take responsibility for their schooling somewhere else. These parents have a very reasonable choice. Vaccinate their kids or homeschool them.
laura6567 laura6567 9 years
Last Post: effects of vaccinations are unknown. Period. Studies may say they haven't found a link. That doesn't mean there isn't one. Either way, there is enough information about vaccines in general that parents should be able to make an educated decision. Some don't want to inject foreign substances into their kids. Further, there are no studies saying that a child is endangered if they are not vaccinated. All of us egg allergy kids (prior to 4 years ago, when I last talked to a doctor about this... So this includes everybody from the 70s til 2003, give or take) are fine. Getting a vaccine is no "end all be all" of disease. People get flu shots and still get the flu. People don't get flu shots, and stay healthy. Same goes for vaccines. People have gotten chicken pox after getting chicken pox vaccines. It is not life-threatening to opt out of vaccines. My point is simply that the government is not the legal guardian. The parent is. And a parent shouldnt be taken away from a child over something like a vaccine. Period. The law has been passed for kids to get immunizations, other than for religious purposes (which is pretty broad... and if not everybody HAS to get them, I have a hard time believing that every non-immunized kid is in danger...), and it says that the penalty is to have the school give the child's address to the health department. That's very very different than sending the parents to jail, or even to court. They are overstepping their boundaries.
Ikandy Ikandy 9 years
Seems pretty harsh...but there isnt an excuse for not vaccinating your kids...
sarahcateh sarahcateh 9 years
well said facin8me
sarahcateh sarahcateh 9 years
whoops... is there any way for me to delete one of those?
facin8me facin8me 9 years Maryland has made laws, and they're being upheld. The Supreme Court does have jurisdiction when state laws are challenged- the Supreme Court upheld the state;s power to regulate public health- Maryland is exercising that right---so where is the issue??
sarahcateh sarahcateh 9 years
I'm sorry but there is no scientific evidence of a link between autism and vaccinations. It is irresponsible for parents to stop immunizing their children because of a conspiracy theory. There was recently an outbreak of measles in the UK because of parents refusing to vaccinate their children for just this reason. It is ridiculous that a few parents who choose to believe unproven theories put the lives of others in danger by causing a threat to public health. Laura, I have to disagree with you when you say it is unconstitutional to make vaccines mandatory. I believe it is unconstitutional to threaten public health simply just to avoid stepping on a few parents' toes.
facin8me facin8me 9 years
You're right- you really do have to look carefully at papers. The papers referenced on those websites are in cr*ppy journals with low standards where the peer review is not as critical as with high impact journals. Some of them aren't even papers, they're just presentations that are not subject to peer review. If the data was anything that anybody believed and couldn't poke a million holes in, trust me, it would be on the cover of Science or Nature.
laura6567 laura6567 9 years
MMR's about 30-40 years old. That's relatively new--new enough to not know LONG TERM side effects. There are opt-out laws for medical and religious reasons in every state, and 18 have personal opt-out laws. The Supreme Court should ABSOLUTELY have NO say in vaccines... It's public health matter, which according to the 10th amendment, makes it a state issue. But again, we'll have to agree to disagree, because we obviously both have strong opinions that aren't going to budge :)
shanlu shanlu 9 years
7kimba7 7kimba7 9 years
I heart vaccines. there are so many illnesses that I have never even had to worry about because of vaccines I've received.
facin8me facin8me 9 years
I maintain that the government absolutely has the right to regulate vaccination because the freedom from restraint is not absolute. The Supreme Court (not just one judge in Maryland) has repeatedly affirmed the government's authority to regulate public health because at the end of the day, there can be no liberty without life. Most vaccines are not "relatively new." Maybe chickenpox, but that's about it. The health effects and reactions are known. Like I said before, the parents can opt-out. But unless that is covered by a medical exemption, they are also opting out of sending their kids to public school. So their hands are not tied. I don't think that the parents should go to jail- I think their kids should be sent home until they are properly vaccinated.
laura6567 laura6567 9 years
and people don't know whether or not vaccines (and thimerosal) cause autism or not... There are many studies saying there ARE links (see here: and as well as studies saying there aren't links. I'm in the science field and have been doing research for a couple of years. If I've learned anything, it's that people can skew their statistics to say whatever they want. You have to really really carefully look at papers before you can determine whether you agree with them.
laura6567 laura6567 9 years
I guess we'll have to agree to disagree. I maintain the government has no right to regulate this, because it's unconstitutional and an abuse of power. Constitutionally, this should be a state issue, and if Maryland (or any other state) wants to enforce this, it has to go through legislative deliberation, not be a decision by one judge. It's unknown whether there are links between autism and vaccines. What IS known is that we really don't know the long-term side effects of these vaccines, since they're all relatively new. If a parent wants to opt out, they should be allowed to. This should not be a government issue, and if it is turned into one, it should go through proper legislation, not one judge's decision. AND STILL... what happens to the kids when their parents are off in jail?!
ashlee683 ashlee683 9 years
There is actually extensive evidence that there is no link between autism and vaccination. There was one research team that suggested it and they have since been accused of academic misconduct for publishing the study. Because it is such a serious issue there were several studies done in multiple countries to confirm that finding and no one but one group found a negative effect. The problem is, once the information is out there its really hard to convince people otherwise. And for the record it wasn't the vaccines themselves that were under scutiny it was a mercury based preservative called themerosol.
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