27 November, 2007

Compulsary Vaccination?

I can't help but think that parents who refuse to vaccinate their children should be criminalised in some way. It seems Megan McArdle agrees.

There are obviously some legitimate cases for exemption where the child would basically die because of the vaccine. Fair enough. But vaccination schemes rely on the concept of herd immunity - basically, eliminating common areas where the virus would live and breed, such as schools.

When a parent refuses to vaccinate their child for spurious reasons such as the MMR-Autism assertion, it not only puts the life of their child at risk, it endangers the life of the child who can't be vaccinated. If that isn't enough of a reason, when an older person gets a 'childhood disease' such as measles, it often effects them far worse. Vaccines wear off over a person's lifetime so the Yummy Mummy who refuses may be responsible for the infection of her child, her child's best friend and her child's grandparent.

I do like the idea of an auction (see link above). Grant immunity from prosecution to a: parents who can prove a true medical reason (backed by 2 GPs) of why their child is at risk from the vaccine and b: to 0.01% of the population who are willing to pay. If a person really believes that MMR leads to autism, make them put their money where their mouth is. If they genuinely believe it to be the case, and therefore would suffer a great deal of stress were the vaccine to be obligatory, they can pay to remove that distress. If their are feigning distress because it's fashionable to worry in Daily Mail fashion about these things, my bet is that they wouldn't pay.

I wish these people could be forced to take responsibility for their actions. In reality, they are no better than the Nigerian imams who told their congregations to stop letting their children be vaccinated against polio because it was a wicked plot by the West. Polio had almost been eliminated from the world until this happened. The imams insisted the polio vaccine be tested. It was tested in Malaysia and found to be effective and safe. The imams claimed Malaysia wasn't Muslim enough (!) so the vaccine was then tested in Saudi Arabia. Again, it was proved to work and be safe. The imams then accepted that it was safe and advised their congregations of that fact. The damage was done, however, and many parents are still refusing to vaccinate their children. Polio is once again spreading through the world.

"Causing death by negligent or reckless misstatement". Coming to a debate near you....

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