On the moral obligation to vaccinate… and the national solution…

measles

Look at this photo — look closely – -that’s someone’s child, with measles.  People who remember when people died of measles are in support of vaccinations, because they understand why the measles vaccine was created in the first place.

There are some people who cannot be vaccinated — here, because they don’t have an immune system that can take a vaccination…. and elsewhere because they don’t have access to adequate medical care.  Further, here there are some kids who will slip thru the cracks and not be vaccinated because their parents can’t make it happen — mostly because they’re poor and lack access to the proper medical care for a unique and complicated set of reasons.

There are also some kids for whom the vaccination doesn’t work — and their parents won’t know until they come down with the disease anyway.. So, it’s clear that there are people out there who won’t be vaccinated, and that until recently they’ve been protected by herd immunity.

Creating that herd immunity is a group project.  That means that everyone who CAN participate SHOULD participate.  In fact, everyone who CAN participate has a moral obligation to the social contract to do so — you don’t get an exception because you’re special — because, turns out you aren’t…. special, that is… (see a previous post in response to objections to vaccinations).

What you ARE is part of a society — a society that put resources and energy into eliminating certain diseases — because those diseases can kill or permanently harm people.  To be blunt, there are lots of places in the world in which vaccinations are a lot less common — and those diseases are a lot MORE common… if you really don’t want to vaccinate your kids, then you should move there — I’m guessing you’ll change your position on vaccinations when there’s a real chance that your unvaccinated kid will get the disease.

You see — the thing is, folks like you ARE the problem — you, statistically you’re well-educated, you make about $75,000 per year, and you don’t think that you should put shots into your kid…. BUT, you travel with that kid to other places, your kid brings those germs home because she isn’t vaccinated, and before you know she’s infected for sure  (perhaps you suspect she has a cold..), she’s spread the disease around the community.

And — while having a sick kid is inconvenient for you, it’s not the end of the world… chances are pretty good that your little sweetums will get better, you have the 3-4 weeks to stay home with them, and you have the health insurance to make sure that she has all the care she can have — it’s no problem, right?

BUT — wait… just a second… for the kid without an immune system, the same disease means that their already streatched-thin parents have another thing to worry about… and their kid doesn’t get to sit around at home in their PJs watching old Barney episodes on your ipad, instead they have to go to the hospital — and that’s expensive.

— and what about the kid under a year old who can’t be vaccinated yet… your germ-factory kid sat next to them at the pediatrician last week, and now the mother of that 1 year-old can’t take them to daycare because once your little sweetums was diagnosed, everyone who was in the waiting room with you two — and for a few hours afterward, has been notified that they could have measles and they can’t risk spreading it around… now that mom, who probably has to work (the poor dear, while your yoga/pilates etc… schedule gets interrupted, she’s missing her job) — and perhaps she won’t keep her job if she misses too much work — BECAUSE OF YOU…

Your most supposedly persuasive argument is that you’re afraid of autism — well, goodness, people live with autism all the time.  They grow up, they get jobs, they live and laugh and love like the rest of us — and, most important, they aren’t dead — and, since autism isn’t contagious, other folks can’t catch it — like they can catch measles.

Are you getting the picture? Whatever half-cocked ideas you have that have persuaded you to decline vaccinations don’t outweigh the potential risk you pose to others in your society.  You see, you get all kinds of benefits from society, including education, mutual support, laws enforced, etc — and, when it comes down to it, there are very few actual duties you need to fulfill in return — but vaccinations are one of them.  i think that vaccinations ought not be optional… there, I said it — call me Hitler or whatever, but I think that you ought not be permitted to opt out of vaccination.

Ideally, you’d agree that vaccinations are a good idea — because they are.  Ideally, you’d exercise your “right” to decide about medical procedures to support vaccines, but I have no reason to think you actually WILL make such a decision.

The thing is, informed consent isn’t absolute — when we’re talking about diseases that cause a lot of harm to others, the defense of others overrides the right to decline something relatively small, like a vaccine.  You see, this isn’t as if one healthy person can be forced to “donate” all of their organs so that others may live — instead, this is participating in a medical group project that won’t work if enough folks opt out.

So — finally — here’s my proposal.  Kids get vaccinated IN school, daycare, etc… the organizations where they spend their time (or will spend their time..) are the same organizations that facilitate vaccinations.  Those organizations should already know of immuno compromised kids, those kids also know to question things like that — parents are given a set of notices as to when the vaccinations will happen, as well as  a consent form.  IF a parent declines to consent without a medical exemption, their kid goes home right away and doesn’t come back until they’ve been vaccinated by the school.  period.

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