Dennis D. McDonald ( is an independent consultant located in Alexandria Virginia. His services and capabilities are described here. Application areas include project, program, and data management; market assessment, digital strategy, and program planning; change and content management; social media; and, technology adoption. Follow him on Google+. He also publishes on and aNewDomain.

Should your child's vaccination history be a matter of public record?

Should your child's vaccination history be a matter of public record?

By Dennis D. McDonald

This is a tough one. Should a child’s vaccination history be a matter of public record? Here are some possible “for” arguments:

  • Associating with children who are not vaccinated increases the likelihood of disease transamission.
  • Reducing overall disease incidence reduces health, schooling, and lost-wages costs.
  • Associating with unvaccinated children increases the risk of disease for unvaccinated infants.

Possible “con” arguments:

  • Medical records should be private.
  • Citizens should not be forced to be vaccinated against their will. 
  • Children who are publicized as not vaccinated might be socially ostracized.

I’m sure there are more pro and con arguments. It’s probably difficult to completely separate the “privacy” arguments from “public-health” argument.

Perhaps a middle ground would be making anonymized data available on a school or neighborhood level. This might help parents make informed decisions about where and with whom they want their children to congregate.

Making such aggregated data available might also be a stimulus to parents to improve their family’s own vaccination rates.

For example, if I’m a parent of a school-aged child I might want to know the incidence of polio or measles vaccination rates among the children attending a local school, especially if I have an infant at home who is too young to be vaccinated. This might make the difference in how I select a school if, other things being equal, I think that attending one school means my kid(s) will have a higher probability of getting sick than if he or she attends another school.

What do you think? Should a child’s vaccination history in some way be a matter of public record, if a way could be found to protect the privacy of individuals while making aggregated (e.g., school level) data available? Or should such data not be available at all given privacy and other concerns?

Copyright (c) 2013 by Dennis D. McDonald

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