Parents Face Jail Time for Failing to Vaccinate Their Children in Uganda

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni recently signed a law that will force parents who fail to vaccinate their children to spend 6 months in jail.

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni recently signed a law that will force parents who fail to vaccinate their children to spend 6 months in jail.

The law also requires children to have an immunization card that lists all received vaccines and boosters in order to attend school.

This rather radical law was passed in an effort to increase the immunization rates in Uganda, where it is estimated that at least 3% of children don’t get immunized.

Deaths from vaccine-preventable disease—particularly polio and meningitis—are on the rise in Uganda. The World Health Organization estimates that 70 of every 1000 children there will die from vaccine-preventable illness before age 5.

This issue started to receive attention when a religious cult began spreading anti-vaccination ideology in local districts of Uganda. The Ugandan Ministry of Health reports that the group is growing and now has a presence throughout the whole country.

Uganda isn’t the first nation to turn to legislation in order to encourage vaccination.

In Australia, parents who fail to vaccinate their children risk losing thousands of dollars in childcare and welfare benefits. In the southeastern Australian state of Victoria, children who aren’t immunized are banned from childcare and school.

In the United States, California lawmakers proposed passing mandatory vaccination legislation in response to the 2014 Disneyland outbreak of measles, a vaccine-preventable illness that was considered eradicated in the United States in 2000.

Very few details have been released regarding the new law in Uganda. Specifically, it is unknown who will be exempt from the law, since there are many medical reasons an individual may not be able to receive certain vaccines.