How Many States Have Mandatory Vaccine Laws? Not As Many As You Might Think

It's amazing to me how a few little tidbits about the presidential candidates have managed to sort of slip under the radar, especially in the information age. For instance, I had no idea until recently that only one of the four presidential candidates is pro-vaccine. Full disclosure: I had no idea until recently that there were actually four candidates. So I could be the problem. I was actually rather shocked to find out that we had so many candidates who are anti-mandatory vaccinations vying for a seat in the White House, and it got me to wondering how many states have mandatory vaccine laws? Because, depending on who wins the election in November, the landscape could look a little different.

As of 2015, every state still requires children to get a measles vaccination barring any medical exceptions. Every state other than Mississippi, West Virginia, and California offer exemptions based on personal or religious beliefs. While some believe that the MMR vaccine has a direct link to autism, the only scientific study to make that correlation has been widely discredited, and the author of that study had his medical license revoked. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention reports that there is no link between vaccines and ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder). Unfortunately, many parents still believe there is a link between the two, and do not want their children vaccinated, which can cause a break in the "community immunity."

When a critical portion of a community is immunized against a contagious disease, most members of the community are protected against that disease because there is little opportunity for an outbreak. Even those who are not eligible for certain vaccines—such as infants, pregnant women, or immunocompromised individuals—get some protection because the spread of contagious disease is contained. This is known as "community immunity."

And just how do the presidential candidates feel about vaccinating children?

Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson has gone on record saying that he does not believe the federal government should mandate vaccinations. Republican candidate Donald Trump has said that he believes there is a direct link between autism and vaccines because he saw it with his own eyes. In 2012 he told Fox News,

It happened to somebody that worked for me recently. I mean, they had this beautiful child, not a problem in the world, and all of the sudden they go in and they get this monster shot ... they pump this in to this little body and then all of the sudden the child is different a month later.

Green Party candidate Jill Stein, a medical doctor, has not drawn that line in the sand to say she doesn't believe in vaccines, but she has said there is room for improvement:

I think there’s no question that vaccines have transformed public health and have been absolutely critical in ridding us of the scourge of many diseases: small pox, polio, etc. So vaccines are an invaluable medication. Like any medication, they also should be — what shall we say? — approved by a regulatory board that people can trust.

Which leaves Democratic Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, who answered the vaccination question with this mic drop moment.

Because we all want to protect our kids, right?