Should Parents Decide Whether Their Kids Are Vaccinated?

The measles outbreak at Disneyland has been all over the news for weeks, sparking much debate and controversy. Should Disneyland ban unvaccinated kids? Should schools ban unvaccinated children? I think the answer is obvious; we should make vaccinations mandatory across the board, the only exception being for medical reasons as verified by a doctor. After all, 92% of physicians attribute the recent outbreak to parents not vaccinating their kids. (Why this number is not 100%, I am not sure.) However, a surprising number of my generation disagree. A recent study by the Pew Research Center revealed that 41% of millennials, specifically men and women 18-29, think it should be up to the parent to decide whether her child should be vaccinated. To put that in perspective, only 20% of adults 65 and older feel that way.

Four out of every 10 20-somethings would rather the parent decide whether his child should be spared from having a potentially deadly disease instead of the government making it mandatory. Why does my generation feel this way? Pew Research Center said it's because we haven't experienced the repercussions of living in a world without vaccines. Older adults remember the days when infectious diseases, such as measles, were not under control. Those who are "Generation Y" are blessed to not know that world, though I worry we might be headed back in that direction.

That reasoning may partially explain why a surprising percentage of millennials are anti-mandatory vaccinations; however, I think there is something else going on here. TIME deemed us the "Me Me Me Generation" nearly two years ago, and it's easy to see why.  We are narcissistic. We want to make our own decisions. When we are parents, if we aren't already, we will feel that we are entitled to call the shots. And I love that mindset when it comes to making decisions that directly affect your child and are not potentially life or death. Want to homeschool your kids? Great. Want to put your baby in the car without a car seat? That's where I draw the line. Ultimately, I hope that, whether we end up making vaccinations mandatory or not, this new generation of parents will see the incredible importance of vaccinating their kids.

Which vaccines do kids need and why are they necessary?

Hannah Werthan is the assistant editor for Parents.com. She loves everything her fellow millennial women love, especially brunch. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram

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