Here’s my bias: I vaccinated both my kids. I believe in science. I don’t subscribe to conspiracy theories because I inherently believe people are good.
So when I read an article in Slate this week with the very sensational headline suggesting that those who don’t vaccinate their kids should be criminally charged, I nodded. To me, it makes sense. Vaccinations are a public safety issue, and while there are personal choices that need to be made, the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.
What if a mother decided not to vaccinate her daughter for measles, based on rumors that the vaccine causes autism, and her daughter gets the disease at the age of 4 and passes it to a 1-year-old, who is too young for the vaccine, at her day care center. And what if that baby dies?
“One can make a legitimate, state-sanctioned choice not to vaccinate,” the bioethicist Arthur L. Caplan and his co-authors write, “but that does not protect the person making that choice against the consequences of that choice for others.” Since epidemiologists today can reliably determine the source of a viral infection, the authors argue, a parent who decides not to vaccinate his kid and thus endangers another child is clearly at fault and could be charged with criminally negligent homicide or sued for damages.
It’s why we have strict laws against smoking. Smoking is legal, but the places you can do it are ever diminishing because we understand that it is as much a public safety issue from second-hand smoke as it is a personal choice to smoke.
I think vaccinations are along that same line–the safety of society is more important than what Jenny McCarthy believes.
When I tweeted out the link to the article, it received immediate response–both positive and negative. So in an attempt to be open-minded, I decided to try and see both sides of the vaccination issue.
Let’s look at the reasonable arguments and see if there can’t be a middle ground: