Mandatory Vaccinations?

Yet another Facebook acquaintance is touting their viewpoint that everybody should be required to have their children vaccinated.  Personal beliefs and religious exemptions are to be tossed aside in the quest to ensure that we eradicate diseases such as measles.  My state is pushing rather hard to accommodate this point of view, wishing to become one of only three states that don’t allow parents the option of claiming personal beliefs as a reason for opting out of a vaccine.

That being said, I’d be willing to acknowledge that the State has a right to demand vaccination for students enrolled in public schools.  If you’re going to avail yourself of one of the benefits our government offers, you need to respect the terms under which it is offered.  Likewise, I think that welfare recipients should be required to pass regular blood tests for drug use.  But to require every parent to allow a total stranger to inject something into their child’s body that is not explained to them and that the manufacturers thereof are not required to totally disclose every piece of information about what is in the injection, strikes me as ludicrous.  If women’s bodies are so sacrosanct (irony) that they are legally permitted to kill their unborn child, I would think that feminists at the very least would be demanding that girls be allowed to opt out of immunizations using the same rationale.

Before I get going on this further, I’d like to acknowledge what might be the most balanced post on the subject of immunizations of late, at least coming from someone on the pro-vaccine side of things.  Considering the frenzy that people have been whipped up into over this issue, the author (a pro-vaccine doctor) does a good job of bringing back the discussion more towards actual human beings who love their children.

Personally I don’t care for the pro/anti-vaxx label. I am not anti-vaccine.  I have no problem with the idea of vaccines or those who choose to avail themselves of them.  I don’t believe that every vaccine is going to do irreparable harm to the recipient, but I also believe that, as indicated by the manufacturers themselves, some can and do.  This presents to me, the parent, odds and options that need to be weighed.  It is my job to weigh them, not my government’s.  The decision to vaccinate should remain with me, the parent, as with any other medical procedure.  I’ve blogged recently about encroaches into parental authority by a State more and more convinced that it should have the final word in all of these matters, and the push to mandate vaccinations is just another angle on this.  For a nation founded on a dedication to personal liberty, it amazes me the rapidity at which people are willing to hand over their liberty to the State for a questionable promise of safety.

By the way, to date, has any of the children diagnosed with measles died?  Have any of them developed pneumonia or brain inflammation, two of the other afflictions which can accompany measles?  Just curious.  Much of the hype over measles is the idea that they are deadly.  This may once have been the case, but considering our advances in medicine over the last 50 years, is this necessarily still the case?

I debate entering into dialogue with my Facebook colleague on this issue.  Certainly more than a few acquaintances have made blanket posts at one point or another indicating that if anyone says anything they disagree with they will unfriend them immediately.  Amazing.  While I’m not really worried about being unfriended, I also tend to think that Facebook discussions rarely are helpful, and more often than not either degenerate into name calling or simply taper off into nothing.  You can’t pin somebody down in a Facebook conversation.  All they have to do is quit responding to you.  I don’t care for that approach to dialogue or debate.

My acquaintance was baffled how anyone could even question whether or not vaccines were safe or not, or whether or not we could trust our government to use them appropriately.  It baffles me how poor our understanding of history is, both our own history as Americans as well as history around the world, not to mention current events.

Let’s just look at one brutal example – the Tuskegee syphilis experiments, which were conducted by the United States government over a period of 40 years.  This isn’t ancient history, people.  1972.  Right here in the USofA.  Men were deliberately not treated for a disease that became curable a decade into the study.  They weren’t told what they had.  The experiments were still active and ongoing in 1972 – it was only because of a whistleblower that the whole thing was brought to light and condemned.

I’m sure there are people who will be happy to argue that this can’t happen again.  But I don’t share their optimism in human nature or regulatory oversight.  This experiment was ongoing even through and after World War II, as the world condemned the inhumane treatment of Nazi prisoners, including medical experimentation.  It continued to happen right here in our own back yard.

Some might argue that this was the isolated work of evil people.  Perhaps that’s the case, but it’s a dangerously narrow view of human nature.  I tend to suspect that in large part the Tuskegee experiments were made possible by people who believed they were doing the right thing, that their actions were leading to the overall betterment of society as a whole or at least the people and communities involved in the experiments.  It is a sad fact of human nature that we commit some of our most heinous evils upon others when we believe our actions are justified or, worse yet, necessary to achieve a greater good.

Let’s examine the demand for mandatory vaccinations.  What would this create?  We’re setting the legal precedent for my government to demand that I submit myself to its demands to inject me with vaccines.  Which vaccines?  Measles?  Whooping cough?  What about the flu shot?  Should that be included as mandatory?  And if we’re going to bring that up, are children the only ones that need to get vaccinated?  Why not demand vaccinations and boosters for all adults while we’re at it?  And where are the studies showing the length of efficacy for these vaccinations?

New vaccines are being developed at an amazing rate (and long-term studies on their safety aren’t available because they’re so new!).  According to that last link I gave you, over 300 new vaccines are in clinical trials or reviews right now.  Does the public get to vote on which vaccines are mandatory?  Would there be a two-tier system – mandatory vaccines and voluntary ones?  Sounds pretty ludicrous to me.  What seems more likely is that as new vaccines are developed and policy officials are lobbied as to the greater good they provide, they’ll simply be wrapped into the mandatory requirement.

I wonder how diligently the public will be informed of changes to the vaccines.  Is a certain, specific vaccine mandatory?  What about alterations to that vaccine?  Does the public need to be informed about alterations in the manufacturer’s procedures or ingredients?  Does the public need to be informed when new vaccines are added to the mix?  Does the public have the right to demand full disclosure of all the ingredients in the vaccines and public alerts when these are changed?  I can’t imagine it.  Not if we demanded that someone else make these decisions for us.

We all love our children.  I’ll go so far as to assume that everyone on both sides of the issue love other children as well – both the children of pro-vaxxers and anti-vaxxers.  The issue is one of trust.  Not trust in the science per se, but what happens with control of that science.  History is full of well-intentioned and brilliant men and women scientists who have watched their discoveries co-opted for purposes they never intended.  Vaccines may indeed be a good thing, but to pretend that those who hesitate about them are somehow evil, malicious, or otherwise idiotic requires a healthy ignorance of history as well as human nature.

2 Responses to “Mandatory Vaccinations?”

  1. william b Says:

    Great post I think you covered it all.
    One thing I find strange is how many people blindly trust the government. Do they know vaccine manufacturers cannot be held liable? Point me to a double-blind study of any vaccine. And when Jeb Bush gets elected and mandates all citizens buy a gun and receive training will they be singing the praises of government? Or come unglued? They don’t realize that once you let the camel’s nose into the tent his hind end follows soon after.
    And pretty much every mass murder/genocide throughout history has been carried out by some government. So when do you finally say no to the government telling you what you must do?
    Keep an eye on the Gardasil vaccine, many other countries are realizing this vaccine has some very ugly side effects. Our daughters and sons are the guinea pigs for this drug.

    • mrpaulnelson Says:

      The blessings of liberty and stability for over two centuries are also a curse – people forget. People forget abuses of power. People get the idea that “those things only happen to other countries – they could never happen here.”

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