Mandatory Childhood Immunization Programs: Is There Still a Role for Religious and Conscience Belief Exemptions?

60 Pages Posted: 9 Dec 2020

See all articles by Mariette Brennan

Mariette Brennan

Lakehead University - Bora Laskin Faculty of Law

Kumanan Wilson

University of Ottawa - Ottawa Hospital Research Institute

Vanessa Gruben

University of Ottawa - Common Law Section

Date Written: November 23, 2020

Abstract

Childhood immunizations are a vital component in controlling and stopping the spread of diseases. In recent years, we have seen an increase in anti-vaccine sentiment and, as a result, the rise of vaccine preventable disease. We are also now living through a global pandemic in which a COVID-19 vaccine is required for society to return to pre-pandemic normalcy. Childhood immunization programs are vital for public health. This paper examines childhood vaccination programs and the use of exemptions in such programs. The paper analyzes the constitutionality of religious and conscience-belief exemptions in vaccination programs and highlights their applicability in terms of both routine childhood immunizations and in the case of a COVID-19 vaccine. The paper ultimately proposes ways to restructure religious and conscience belief exemptions and provides guidance on how to move childhood immunization programs forward in the COVID-19 era.

Keywords: Immunizations, COVID-19, Vaccinations, Constitutional Law, Public Health

JEL Classification: K, L

Suggested Citation

Brennan, Mariette and Wilson, Kumanan and Gruben, Vanessa, Mandatory Childhood Immunization Programs: Is There Still a Role for Religious and Conscience Belief Exemptions? (November 23, 2020). Alberta Law Review, Forthcoming, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3742830 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3742830

Mariette Brennan (Contact Author)

Lakehead University - Bora Laskin Faculty of Law ( email )

955 Oliver Road
Thunder Bay, ON P7B 5E1
Canada

Kumanan Wilson

University of Ottawa - Ottawa Hospital Research Institute ( email )

Ottawa, Ontario
Canada

Vanessa Gruben

University of Ottawa - Common Law Section ( email )

57 Louis Pasteur Street
Ottawa, K1N 6N5
Canada

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