The official student newspaper of The Hockaday School

The Fourcast

The official student newspaper of The Hockaday School

The Fourcast

The official student newspaper of The Hockaday School

The Fourcast

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When walking into Hockaday each morning, we are lucky to be surrounded by the impeccable cleanliness of our facilities and buildings. Kathy...

Junior takes the digital SAT.
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December 15, 2023
Graphic by Carys Braun 25
Pour Choices
December 15, 2023

Vaccinations Cause Controversy

Magic wasn’t the only thing in the air last December at Disneyland when a visitor who had unknowingly contracted mea­sles exposed thousands of other people to the disease. Since then, at least 118 cas­es have been reported in California.

The spread of measles is not limited to the state’s borders; 176 cases have been reported nationwide, spanning 17 states and the District of Columbia. Cases have also been reported in Canada and Mexi­co. At least 130 of these cases trace back to Disneyland, an incident that occurred as a direct result of the refusal of some people to re­ceive vaccinations.

This event, as recent as it was, spurred what is predicted to be another controversial issue in the upcoming presidential election of 2016: Vaccinations.

This event, as recent as it was, spurred what is pre­dicted to be another contro­versial issue in the upcom­ing presidential election of 2016: vaccinations.

Although the majority of the American people support mandating specific vaccina­tions, many consider the pos­sibility a breach of their civil liberties, including the right to govern one’s own body. The movement against enforced vaccinations was especially fueled in 1998 after British medical researcher Andrew Wakefield published a fraud­ulent study drawing a con­nection between autism and the MMR vaccine, which is for measles, mumps and rubella. Though his findings were dis­proved, the damage done to the American public was irre­versible, leaving an audience of skeptics when it came to scientific claims.

Upper School history teacher Tracy Walder believes the government should exer­cise the right to mandate spe­cific vaccinations.

“It boils down to public health,” she said, citing the 1905 Supreme Court case of Jacobson v. Massachusetts. Henning Jacobson, a Swed­ish immigrant in Cambridge, Massachusetts, was fined for refusing to receive a smallpox vaccination on the basis that he had fallen sick after receiv­ing a vaccination as a child. After bringing his case before the Supreme Court, Jacobson lost on the principle that the government should be al­lowed to take action for the common good. Walder related the case back to today, saying “[anyone who is not vaccinat­ed] is endangering the health of the public.”

Her views align somewhat with those of senior Bridg­et Colliton, president of the Young Democrats Club.

Colliton, though an advo­cate of the government being able to mandate specific vac­cines, believes that Americans should be able to refuse vac­cines on the basis of maintain­ing their civil liberties. Howev­er, in “[being] given the choice not to get vaccinated, [these people] should be given ad­ditional responsibilities,” she said, such as home schooling and intermittent check-ups. These responsibilities would be enforced by the federal gov­ernment on the same princi­ple, equating one’s right to not receive a vaccination to anoth­er’s right to visit public places without the fear of contracting a disease.

Juliette Turner, president of the Young Republicans Club, disagrees.

Noting the difference be­tween protecting the American public and infringing upon its’ rights, Turner primarily focuses on the importance of protecting state sovereignty. A believer in “limit[ing] the overreach of the federal gov­ernment,” she said, under the umbrella of health care, the is­sue of vaccinations should be left up to the states.

“Nowhere in the Constitu­tion does it stipulate that the federal government should be in charge of personal health,” she said, declaring said right a states’ right in reference to the Tenth Amendment.

Turner ultimately views the prospect of the enforce­ment of vaccinations uncon­stitutional and believes that “the federal government can­not dictate to all citizens.”

Because many Texans have adopted views similar to those of Turner, the num­ber of children statewide opt­ing not to take vaccines has jumped from 2,314 to 38,197 in the past decade, according to the Texas Department of State Health Services.

A recent poll by CNN sug­gests otherwise, however, re­porting that not only does 60 percent of the American public support the barring of unvaccinated children from public school and day care, but 78 percent support the govern­ment mandating vaccinations.

This statistic correlates directly with findings from a poll taken of 100 Hockaday stu­dents, where approximately 75 percent of students in the Upper School support mandat­ing vaccines, as opposed to the 11 percent of the student body in favor of exemption based on personal beliefs. This takes into account that 13 percent of those polled proclaimed them­selves to be indifferent or un­aware of the political issue.

Expect regular doses of controversy to the American public as presidential candi­dates continue to debate over and take stances on the issue of vaccinations.

– Hufsa Husain

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