Who decides whether a child gets a vaccination or not?  Parents or the government?

The issue has re-emerged or sorts because there has been an outbreak of measles at Disneyland, and, of course, it has been politicized.  The brouhaha escalated Monday when Chris Christie, for some reason or another, was in London, and was asked about his feelings regarding mandatory vaccinations.  Christie suggested that people should have a choice as to whether or not they vaccinate their child.

There is no vaccination for criticism
There is no vaccination for criticism

Almost immediately Rand Paul chimed in, supporting Christie’s position.

It didn’t take too long before people targeted the GOP candidates for being “deniers” of “science” and out of touch with the modern world.

Consider, though, that in 2008 Barack Obama said pretty much the same thing as Christie, and Hilliary Clinton has made statements in the past that show she supported parental choice on vaccinations–click here for article.

Why would candidates Obama and Clinton support choice?  Because this is not a left or right issue.  There are people on the right who fear the government in this way—such as General Ripper and his “precious bodily fluids” in Dr. Strangelove; there are people on the left who fear vaccinations as well—such as crunchy granola mama types or celebrity Jenny McCarthy.  The real question is, why would now President Obama and Clinton both sound so certain about the governments role in mandatory vaccinations now?

The answer is not a conspiracy theory–the answer is politics.  Crunchy mama types will vote for the democratic candidate in 2016 regardless of his or her stance on vaccines.  Independent voters will not care so much about the issue, but they will be influenced by attacks on GOP’ers as ‘science deniers’ and ‘fringe’ thinkers.  Never mind that it was GOP governor and Presidential candidate Rick Perry who made the most controversial vaccination decision in a generation when he made it mandatory for 11-12 year old girls to have the HPV vaccine in Texas–click here for article.

We need to be sensible about the issue and public policy.  Only a fool doesn’t vaccinate their children against deadly diseases.  However, the issue is about control.  I cannot conceive of any society that calls itself free mandating that anybody inject anything into their body.  It just seems inconsistent with the values of liberty.  We also have to be concerned about the ever present slippery slope.  Today it is measles.  Next year it is an AIDS vaccine.  In a decade it will be vaccines that prevent daydreaming.

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7 responses to “VACCINATIONS”

  1. I follow, as you will know, a fair number of conservatives over on the Twitter. Many of them have tweeted unambiguously in favor of the science and wisdom of vaccinations. The caricature of conservatives as the unscientific on this issue, which has popped up from the more liberal folk whom I follow, is as you say about the whole matter: more politics in the pejorative sense than anything else. Crass opportunism strikes me as another term for it.

    Good post.

  2. I, for one, am very happy that I received vaccinations as a child. I have a friend who did not receive the polio vaccine and is permanently and debilitatingly disabled because of it. I don’t remember if it was obligatory or not, just that everyone got it. I only wish that we had had a vaccine at the time for measles, mumps and rubella. A lot of lives might have been saved. The problem is that many young parents have all been vaccinated and have never seen the ravages of these so-called “childhood diseases.” They think perhaps that these diseases are sort of like a bad cold. Maybe if they had seen a friend die or had a relative who suffered the side-effects, even an adult male with the mumps, or any adult with the measles (my grandmother had it as an adult and it ruined her heart), or a deformed baby because his mother had rubella while pregnant, they would think twice before not vaccinating their children.

    • i could not agree with your assessment more eloise. rubella struck the generation ahead of us in our family as well, with devastating consequences. both of my children received all of their vaccinations on time, in order, by our pediatrician. it is the responsible thing to do. thanks for reading and commenting–i really appreciate your perspective.

  3. There is also the aspect of civic responsibility in getting our children vaccinated: what about all the adults my age who have never had measles, mumps or rubella and are too old to be vaccinated? Since the vaccine MMR has only been available since 1971, theoretically there could be a lot of middle-aged and elderly adults who are not immune. You can have a strong immune system when you are young and therefore not be infected but not so strong as you get older. Any adult who gets any of these diseases now could either die or have serious health consequences (like my grandmother who had measles in her 40’s and died when she was 64 after horrible problems with her heart because of it). But that’s not all. What about infants? Even if their mothers are breastfeeding which helps a baby’s immune system, babies are still prey to any infection. Measles and mumps, in particular, can be fatal for them, too – or leave them disabled like Helen Keller, blind AND deaf. After her last baby was born in 2013, my daughter would not allow anyone to visit unless they had had a recent vaccination for pertussis (whooping cough). This disease is on the rise, too, and while for adults it can be mistaken for a cold, in infants it is fatal. This lack of vaccination therefore means that new mothers have to think twice before taking their babies out to even the grocery store or allowing anyone to visit. This was not a problem in 2009 when her twins were born. What are we coming to? What could possibly be going through people’s minds? I am beginning to think that the government should enforce vaccinations to protect the rest of us from irresponsible citizens. I am sorry if this conflicts with your principles but we have to consider the consequences of leaving people free choice – not just for their children but for a lot of other innocent people.

    • eloise–thanks again for your energetic comments. i completely understand the desire for health–again, remember, i vaccinated my children and believe it is the responsible thing to do and that only foolish people fail to do so. however, the appeal to ‘safety’ and ‘innocents’ doesn’t sway me as a reason to trump individual freedom. i can make the same argument in so many different venues of life–if the government regulated that the top speed possible for a car be 65 mph, imagine how many lives would saved? or if tomorrow all tobacco products and alcohol were prohibited? what about fast food and hamburger joints–if those were abolished people would eat better and we’d cut heart disease, childhood obesity, and childhood diabetes dramatically in very little time. yes, the word is dangerous and sometimes innocent people are hurt or die, but at some point we have to be willing to accept risk if we want to live in free society. it is hard to know where to draw that line, but, at least for me, i am not willing to draw it at a place that makes people inject themselves or their children with something against their wishes. so, that is where i am on this very complex issue.

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