Honors Theses

Date of Award


Document Type

Undergraduate Thesis


Public Policy Leadership

First Advisor

Joseph Holland

Relational Format



Vaccines have provided humans protection from infectious diseases for centuries, yet the vaccination rate in the United States fails to come near one-hundred percent, allowing vaccine-preventable diseases to re-emerge in communities across the nation. Vaccines have proven to be a safe and effective method in preventing the spread of infectious disease, but vaccine resistance remains high due to false information perpetuated by anti-vaxxers, greatly impacting the vaccination rate in our country. This thesis, by means of a literature review, provides a critical analysis the resistance to vaccine utilization in the United States to determine what policy recommendations and interventions can be made to reduce the resistance to vaccines and increase the vaccination rate in our country. Vaccine hesitancy has been around ever since the creation of the first vaccine and as the years went on, the modern anti-vaxx movement gained ground, voicing concerns over the ingredients in vaccines, the number of vaccines children receive in their first year, and the belief of the myth that vaccines cause autism. Even after medical science and years of research have validated the safety of vaccines and have shown no link to autism, vaccine hesitancy is still an issue as anti-vaxxers push to receive exemptions for medical, religious or philosophical reasons. Several states offer these types of exemptions, furthering the low vaccination rates in the United States and putting citizens’ health and safety at risk. The findings of the critical analysis were comparable to the literature review: compulsory vaccine laws have proven to be a successful solution to increase vaccination rates; however, these laws are left up to the states, allowing many individuals to go unvaccinated as only Mississippi, West Virginia, and California do not allow religious and philosophical exemptions. In order to address the low vaccination rates in the United States, policy interventions must be made through the states, the federal government, health care providers, and community and government-based organizations to increase the vaccination rate in our country through measures intended to increase vaccine compliance. Without these policy interventions, our nation and our world will never be free from the threat of vaccine-preventable infectious diseases.



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