Thursday, April 26, 2012
Pro-vax Naive Irrationality
Beyond the case law, which pretty clearly has decided that state police power can be brought to bear for protection of public health through vaccination, I'm still having a hard time understanding the cries of "martial law" and "tyranny" as Vermont considers ways to balance individual rights with the social contract. The State is most assuredly NOT coercing anybody to vaccinate their children against their wishes.
Our representative government is saying that if you want to benefit from other specific public goods--in which case you are surely coming into close contact with a larger population on a regular basis--you ought to follow some rules and put skin in the game. It seems incredible that anybody would suggest their individual rights would allow them to smoke in a kindergarten classroom or bring a loaded automatic weapon into the high school gym. So why should we allow a non-compliant child--who with a higher degree of probabilty is carrying an infectious agent--into the midst of our community?
If you want the choice to not vaccinate your kid, bless you. You can then also choose to find a non-public institution to educate or care for your child. Conscience generally comes with a price, as we Quakers and war tax resisters have experienced for centuries.
And yet I find the current conference committee proposal fairly reasonable. It allows the philosophical exemption (now inexplicably named the "personal exemption", which is inexplicably upsetting to anti-vaxxers) to remain--despite my intense opposition--so long as we don't get too many people deciding to destroy our herd immunity whilst benefiting from it. Only then is the exemption suspended, until we've been able to restablish the protections that everybody enjoys, whether they are effectively immunized or not.
What's not entirely clear is how the immunization threshold is measured. Our Health Department appears to look to the CDC's numbers, which indicate the state's vaccination rate has plummeted in recent years to be among the lowest in the nation. Some people accuse the "corporate-controlled" state of "manipulating" numbers, but how else can you compare apples to apples without a national standard, even if Vermont law allows some flexibility? And do we really not want to acknowledge the mobility of modern society, that brings people from around the nation and world into contact with each other?
I think these snippets (from previously linked material) adequately sum up my stance:
- Additional beneﬁt is conferred on the unimmunized person because avoidance of the vaccine avoids the risk for any adverse reactions associated with the vaccine. - You exercise your conscience while the rest of us do the dirty work and take the risks.
- As more and more individuals choose to do what is in their “best” individual interest, the common eventually fails as herd immunity disappears and disease outbreaks occur. - The more you get people to opt out, the more you screw yourself and the rest of us.
- The liberty secured by the Constitution...does not import an absolute right in each person to be, at all times and in all circumstances, wholly freed from restraint. - You live in a society that has traffic rules, prohibitions against murder, and requirements to not be a public health risk, get over it.
Believe it or not, some of us come to different conclusions than you about vaccinations, and aren't naive dupes, irrational statists, or corporate shills. We might actually believe in the Vermont Constitution, which declares in Article 7th:
That government is, or ought to be, instituted for the common benefit, protection, and security of the people, nation, or community, and not for the particular emolument or advantage of any single person, family, or set of persons, who are a part only of that community...
If you don't buy into that "social contract shit", well, I guess I don't have much more to say to you...
TrackBack URL for this entry:
Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Pro-vax Naive Irrationality:
Some of the irrational opposition to vaccination is generational. I was born into the very end of the polio era; my parents felt it necessary to avoid taking me to public swimming pools as a child. When vaccines became available, you can damned well bet my parents had me vaccinated... to my benefit and that of society. If I had kids, you can be sure I would have them vaccinated. Maybe I would have hesitated... but my parents still remembered photos of FDR in his wooden wheelchair, and would have reminded me of my responsibilities. No one of their generation... or mine... forgets that all too recent past.
I agree that it is an obligation to one's society to be vaccinated. It's an imperfect world, with imperfect solutions: society has to calculate the odds and go with the apparent best course of action, and individual preference must ultimately take a back seat in matters of public health.
Posted by: Steve Bates | Apr 27, 2012 6:31:10 PM
You know, I've been thinking about that very thing of late. Fewer and fewer people remember the 1918 Flu Epidemic, or smallpox, or polio, but do see news reports and anti-vax agitprop that make the vaccines seem wicked scary.
I'd feel bad about minimizing the risk of vaccination, but it is truly, vanishingly minimal compared to what the world went through before immunization. It's just astonishing to me that even in a modern, scientific era, when we have such easy access to books, journals, documentaries, etc, our cultural memory still appears to be truncated.
Posted by: NTodd Pritsky | Apr 27, 2012 7:56:18 PM
Heh, the things that keep me up at nite: just realized I meant 'pandemic'. Oy.
Posted by: NTodd Pritsky | Apr 27, 2012 10:17:13 PM
IIRC, a pandemic is an epidemic on steroids, e.g., continent-wide. You are forgiven; go and sin again, in preference to restricting your vocabulary!
Posted by: Steve Bates | Apr 29, 2012 8:33:16 PM