Decoupling Vaccine Laws

10 Pages Posted: 22 Jun 2016 Last revised: 20 Oct 2016

See all articles by Dorit Rubinstein Reiss

Dorit Rubinstein Reiss

University of California Hastings College of the Law

Date Written: June 20, 2016


When a parent decides not to vaccinate, that parent is deciding to leave the child at risk of preventable disease - a much larger risk than the small risk of vaccine injury. Arguably, the law has some tools to protect the child from that decision, including family law court decisions, injunctions in cases of high risk, and tort or criminal liability if a child is harmed.

This short essay explains that exemptions from school immunization requirements do not prevent the law from protecting a child against parental decisions not to vaccinate her, or compensating a child harmed by non-vaccinating. School immunization requirements, however, may be a barrier to criminal liability for non-vaccinating.

Keywords: Children's rights, vaccines

JEL Classification: I18, I1

Suggested Citation

Reiss, Dorit Rubinstein, Decoupling Vaccine Laws (June 20, 2016). Boston College Law Review Online, Forthcoming; UC Hastings Research Paper No. 177. Available at SSRN: or

Dorit Rubinstein Reiss (Contact Author)

University of California Hastings College of the Law ( email )

200 McAllister Street
San Francisco, CA 94102
United States
415-5654844 (Phone)
415-5654865 (Fax)

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