Thursday, June 25, 2015

Vaccine Politics

California is in the midst of a big fight over a move to end the religious and philosophical exemptions that allow some parents to send their children to school without vaccines. Right now it looks like this will happen, and thousands of California parents will either have to vaccinate their children despite their beliefs or pull them out of school. Reading about the debate, I was struck by this passage:
Christina Hildebrand, the founder of A Voice for Choice, a nonprofit organization that has lobbied against the bill, said, “Parental freedom is being taken away by this, because the fear of contagion is trumping it.”
Which strikes me as a perfectly reasonable summary of what is happening. Freedom is absolutely being limited because of the fear of disease. The thing is, the diseases we are talking about really are very dangerous, and used to kill thousands of children every year; on the other hand the documented risks of modern vaccination are small. To live in society, we have to give up some freedoms, and unless we want the return of deadly measles and rubella epidemics, this is one.

1 comment:

G. Verloren said...

A person's rights and freedoms extend only until the point where they unduly infringe upon the rights and freedoms of others.

The comparison that must be made here is between what rights or freedoms are being infringed, and to side with the party that would most be harmed.

On the one hand, a very small minority of parents want the right to BOTH send their children to public schools AND refrain from having said children vaccinated.

They already possess the freedom to not vaccinate their child so long as they arrange for private schooling of some variety, and they also possess the freedom to send their child to public school so long as they receive vaccinations - but they want to be able to combine the two options.

On the other hand, a very large majority of parents want the right to not have their children's health, and indeed their very lives, imperiled by exposure to crippling virulent diseases.

There are also a vast number of people (many of whom are not parents) who want the freedom to not have to spend our collective money and resources fighting such diseases after they manifest, when prevention via vaccinations is much easier and cheaper.

Any sane, rational person should be able to realize which half of the issue should be sided with.