Public Health Laws and Ethical Implications Essay

Public Health Laws and Ethical Implications Essay

Public Health Laws and Ethical Implications Essay

The promotion of optimum public health in times of epidemics is an important role for healthcare providers and stakeholders. Often, the state implements policies and regulations that protect the public from the harms associated with the epidemic. An example of regulation of focus in this research paper is the mandatory vaccination program for school-aged children before they begin school. The program aims at ensuring the safety of both the school-going children and the public from any communicable diseases. Therefore, this paper explores this regulation with a focus on aspects that include its overview, target population, impacts, efficacy, and ethical implications.

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Overview of the Regulation

The selected regulation for this paper is the state requirement for mandatory vaccination of school-going children. Accordingly, states have passed laws that ensure the vaccination of children in public and private schools, and daycare settings. The laws on schoolchildren vaccination were implemented in the late 19th century following the smallpox epidemic in Massachusetts. The court gave powers to the police to protect the public from infectious diseases through the implementation of the universal vaccination requirements. Laws that required vaccination for school entry were implemented, paving way for the current practices in healthcare and educational institutions. The need for legal vaccination of schoolchildrenwas considered after the discovery that schools were the primary sites of disease transmission. Schools that had their children immunized against smallpox had lower rates compared to those that had not vaccinated theirs. As a result, states appreciated the role of schoolchildren vaccination, hence, supporting the programs that facilitated this objective. The implementation of the laws at the state level entails having all children receive the required vaccinations before starting school. Parents should provide documents showing the vaccination status of their children or otherwise before getting their children enrolled in school. The laws apply to both public and private schools.

Target Population and Impacts

Legal vaccination regulations target school-going and entry children. As noted above, the regulation targets children in both public and private schools and daycare settings. It also provides exemptions to the vaccination requirements, including philosophical, religious, and medical exemptions. Regulations on legally mandated vaccination have some impacts on school-going children. First, it protects them from communicable diseases. Vaccination builds the desired immunity in the population against specific infections including tetanus, pneumonia, diphtheria, and smallpox among others(CDC, 2019). The protection contributes to the children’s optimal health and functioning in their communities.

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Legally mandated immunization also protects the public. Immunization prevents the spread of communicable diseases among schoolchildren, which directly contributes to the safety of the public. Regulations on legally mandated vaccination also prevent childhood mortalities. It prevents mortalities attributed to communicable diseases that include polio, tetanus, and smallpox among others(Greyson et al., 2019). Vaccines may affect a negligible proportion of children. Accordingly, they may develop an anaphylactic reaction to vaccines, affecting their effectiveness. However, the risk of its occurrence is minimal, hence, the need for strengthening programs supporting legally mandated vaccination of school-going children.

Efficacy of the Law

Regulations on legally mandated vaccination of children have been effective. All the states in America have implemented the policies with a consideration of the exemptions. Currently, school entry children in public and private schools and daycare settings must be vaccinated for their health others in their communities. Studies have been conducted to evaluate the efficacy and effectiveness of the legally mandated vaccination programs for school-going children in the USA. The study by Yoo et al., (2019) investigated the effectiveness of school-located influenza vaccination programs for schoolchildren in New York. The results showed that state regulations to have influenza vaccine being administered at schools had been cost-effective and increased the population of immunized children. The cost-effectiveness of the program was attributed to theelimination of the need for parents and children hospital visits for influenza vaccination.

The effectiveness of the legally mandated regulation for childhood vaccination can also be seen in the reduction in morbidity and mortality rates. According to Roper et al., (2021), diseases such as pertussis, measles, polio, rubella, and smallpox affected thousands of children in the USA yearly before the middle of the 20th century. The development and implementation of legally mandated vaccination programs in the later 20th century led to a significant reduction and elimination of these diseases in the state. For example, the implementation of childhood vaccination and other adult programs led to the prevention of 103.1 million cases of communicable diseases between 1924 and 2013. In addition, comparative data on mortality rates between the 20th century and 2019 shows the enhanced effectiveness of immunization programs. For instance, the annual morbidity and mortality rate due to congenital rubella syndrome in the 20th century was 152, reducing to 0 in 2019 in the USA. The programs have also reduced the costs of vaccine-preventable diseases. An example can be seen from the reduction of cost from $16069 in the pre-vaccine era for children under five years to $1029 in 2019(Roper et al., 2021). Therefore, considering the above statistics show that legally mandated vaccination programs have been effective in America.

The last evidence of the efficacy of state legally mandated vaccination of school-aged children is also evident from its high level of uptake by the population. Accordingly, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that the regulation saves lives of between two and three million children globally. The childhood vaccination rate in the USA has been high (above 95%), translating into the regulation effectiveness. In some states (20), the vaccination rate of school-going children was more than 95% in 2019-2020. Federal programs have also continually supported legally mandated vaccination programs for school-going children. The support has been achieved through sources that include The Vaccine for Children Program and Section 317 of the Public Health Service Act(NCSL, 2021). The support has been in existence since the 20th century, translating into the effectiveness of the regulation.

Ethical Implications

Regulations on legally mandated vaccination for schoolchildren are ethical. First, the regulation seeks to protect the public interests. It protects the public from being affected by communicable diseases that children transmit easily in school. Immunizing schoolchildren provides them the required herd immunity that ensures further protection of the public from communicable diseases. The ethical nature of the regulation is also evident from its respect for parents’ decisions concerning their children’s immunizations. Accordingly, the regulation provides exemptions under which schoolchildren may not be vaccinated(Rodrigues &Plotkin, 2020). The provisions ensure the protection of the autonomy rights of the parents and their children. Parents have the responsibility of consenting on behalf of their children. Therefore, their views about legally mandated vaccination should be respected.

Despite the above, it can be argued that the implementation of the legally mandated vaccination regulation is unfair in the USA. Accordingly, exempted children are increasingly predisposed to communicable diseases in schools. Besides, they also act as potential sources of communicable diseases to others, including the immunized populations in schools. As a result, partial implementation of the regulation may predispose the vaccinated children to potential harm. The other aspect that raises concerns about the legally mandated vaccination program is the potential harm associated with vaccines. Although negligible, an occurrence of anaphylactic reaction to vaccines may affect the health of the children(Shaw et al., 2018). Therefore, states should consider these issues in the implementation of the regulation.


Overall, legally mandated vaccination of schoolchildren has been effective. Its uptake in all the American states has been high. The policy has benefits to schoolchildren. It protects them from communicable diseases and premature mortality. The legislation of legally mandated vaccination also protects the public from communicable diseases. States have developed exemptions for the regulations. The regulation on legally mandated vaccination for schoolchildren is ethical. Its ethical nature can be seenin the protection of the health and safety of children and the public. However, the regulation raises concerns about its potential harm to children due to anaphylactic reactions. In addition, the exemptions may act as a source of harm to the vaccinated children. Unvaccinated schoolchildren may spread communicable diseases to the population, hence, the issues associated with the regulation.


CDC. (2019, February 28). CDC – State School and Childcare Vaccination Laws—Publications by Topic—Public Health Law.

Greyson, D., Vriesema-Magnuson, C., &Bettinger, J. A. (2019).Impact of school vaccination mandates on pediatric vaccination coverage: A systematic review.CMAJ Open, 7(3), E524–E536.

NCSL. (2021). State Immunization Policy Overview.

Rodrigues, C. M. C., &Plotkin, S. A. (2020).Impact of Vaccines; Health, Economic and Social Perspectives.Frontiers in Microbiology, 11, 1526.

Roper, L., Hall, M. A. K., & Cohn, A. (2021).Overview of the United States’ Immunization Program.The Journal of Infectious Diseases, 224(Supplement_4), S443–S451.

Shaw, J., Mader, E. M., Bennett, B. E., Vernyi-Kellogg, O. K., Yang, Y. T., & Morley, C. P. (2018). Immunization Mandates, Vaccination Coverage, and Exemption Rates in the United States. Open Forum Infectious Diseases, 5(6), ofy130.

Yoo, B.-K., Schaffer, S. J., Humiston, S. G., Rand, C. M., Goldstein, N. P. N., Albertin, C. S., Concannon, C., &Szilagyi, P. G. (2019). Cost effectiveness of school-located influenza vaccination programs for elementary and secondary school children. BMC Health Services Research, 19(1), 1–12.

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Tittle: Public Health Laws and Ethical Implications

Assessment Description
Public health laws and regulations are often passed in response to human-caused or natural disasters or the spread of an infectious disease or other health epidemic. Select a law or regulation that was passed after a significant public health event or in response to an epidemic. In a 1,250-1,500 word paper, discuss the public health law or regulation and describe its impact on a community, including its ethical implications. Examples could include laws/regulations targeting smoking, obesity, healthy mothers and babies, vaccinations, etc. My preferred target population is mothers and babies
Include the following:
Introduction with an overview of the law/regulation, why it was passed, and how it was or is being implemented on the local, state, and/or federal level.
1. A discussion of who the law/regulation targets and how they are being impacted.
2. An evaluation of the efficacy of the law/regulation. Include evidence demonstrating whether it is or is not working.
3. A discussion of the law/regulation’s ethical implications-Do you think this law is fair and ethical in natural? It is being applied ethically/fairly? Were/are there any unforeseen/unintended consequences to be considered?
Prepare this assignment according to the guidelines found in the APA Style Guide
This assignment uses a rubric. Please review the rubric prior to beginning the assignment to become familiar with the expectations for successful completion.

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Rubric for assignment
An introduction and overview of the law/regulation are extremely thorough and include substantial supporting details.

Target Audience assessment
A discussion of who the law/regulation targets and its impact is extremely thorough and includes substantial supporting details.
Efficacy of the Law/Regulation assessment
An evaluation of the efficacy of the law/regulation is extremely thorough and includes substantial supporting details.

Ethical Implications assessment
A discussion of the law and regulations’ ethical implications is extremely thorough and includes substantial supporting details.

Thesis Development and Purpose assessment
Thesis Development and Purpose
Thesis is comprehensive and contains the essence of the paper. Thesis statement makes the purpose of the paper clear.

Argument Logic and Construction assessment
Clear and convincing argument that presents a persuasive claim in a distinctive and compelling manner.
Mechanics of Writing (includes spelling, punctuation, grammar, language use)

Paper Format APA
Documentation of Sources assessment
Documentation of Sources
Documentation of Sources (citations, footnotes, references, bibliography, etc., as appropriate to assignment and style)

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