One thing I never thought I’d have to worry about as a grandmother is whether my grandchild’s going to get sick and dies from going to school with unvaccinated kids:
A downturn in the number of parents opting out of vaccinating their children against the measles virus has led to more regular occurrences of the public being exposed to the virus. The Missouri Department of Health and Human Services and the St. Louis County Department of Social Services are working to notify individuals that may have been exposed to the measles virus in two different locations in March.
The measles virus is highly infectious but preventable through vaccination. The virus’s frequency and spread had been greatly curtailed in the past decades in the United States thanks to vaccinations. However, a recent surge in the number of unvaccinated children due to disproven claims of a connection between vaccines and autism led to a corresponding surge in measles cases.
“Vaccination is an unquestioned ‘yes’ for many parents,” said Franklin County Personal Injury Attorney Gary Burger with Burger Law. “However, the parents who decide against vaccination run the risk that not only could their children become infected, but of unknowingly exposing others to the virus as well.”
What is a parent’s recourse if they have a child who is exposed to and contracts measles at an early age, prior to immunization? Can they sue the other parents for failing to vaccinate their child? Under current law, says Burger, the answer is “probably not.” “Currently,” Burger said, “no state has a law requiring immunization. Many schools require proof of immunization before admission, but there are numerous waivers available to parents who do not want their kids vaccinated. Without a law requiring vaccination, there is no duty to vaccinate, and without a duty, it would be very difficult to prevail in any lawsuit.”
Until all parents can be totally satisfied as to the safety and efficacy of vaccines, there will continue to be unvaccinated children and until legislatures decide to require vaccinations, there will continue to be very little legal recourse for families whose children are exposed to viruses such as the measles.