Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Real Vaccine Victims

I don't believe that a food service worker must be required to wash his hands after using the bathroom. After all, he is capable of making educated choices about his life and his body.

Oh, wait.

When he steps out of that bathroom, his choices no longer affect only himself. He handles food that other people are going to eat; he handles dishware and touches tabletops and silverware that others will touch. He interacts with other people and objects constantly, and so his choice not to wash his hands - while an individual one - directly impacts the health and safety of everyone around him.

Freedom has limits. Your freedom to make choices for your own life ends where someone else's freedom begins.

If a food service worker refused to wash his hands after using the bathroom, that's his choice, but each choice has a consequence. His choice will undoubtedly lead to the consequence of his losing his job and any recommendations for future jobs along with it. If he got anyone sick from his behavior, one consequence may be legal action taken against him - reckless endangerment isn't taken lightly. He will be held accountable for the harm that he has done to those around him, as he should be. After all, we may be able to choose our actions, but we can't choose the consequences of those choices.

There are generally two types of people who choose not to vaccinate their child: those who have a legitimate medical need, and those who have bought into the hype that vaccines do more harm than good. If you are in the former group, it is my sincerest hope that your child's health improves and that they won't be too badly harmed by those in the latter group. If you are in the latter group, I hope you realize the harm that you are doing soon because the lives of millions of people - possibly even your own children - may be harmed if you don't.

Let me be clear: I believe that parents should have a say in their child's medical care. This, of course, is with the caveat that the parents actually *understand* science and basic medicine. If someone believes that diseases are caused by little demons with attitude problems, then he should stay silent. "Google research" is not research, so unless it comes with training in biology or chemistry from an accredited program, it's not a valid opinion and will not weigh very heavily against the lives of others.

When sick children, the elderly, or infants too young to be vaccinated are at risk of developing horrible diseases and thus are placed in serious danger because a few misinformed individuals feel the need to exercise their "agency," we as a people really have two choices: make vaccines mandatory, or enforce consequences on those who choose not to vaccinate out of the safety of public health. After all, our choices have consequences, and if someone chooses not to vaccinate their kid, then they have to take the consequences of that choice as well.

So, no public services where they might encounter kids whose medical problems make them susceptible to disease - schools, parks, playgrounds, community centers. No going to a doctor who sees kids who have those same problems, which is virtually all of them, so good luck there (but since they reject the fundamental principles of immunology, I imagine they probably won't listen to what a doctor would have to say anyway). No going to the store where they might encounter someone whose immune system is weak - after all, an infant didn't choose to be only two months old and thus not be eligible for certain vaccinations. The person who chose not to get vaccinated did, so they have to live with the consequences. If they do happen to venture out and get someone sick, they should be ready to face the legal repercussions of a lawsuit. They knowing put other people's lives at risk, and they must face the consequences - as I said above, reckless endangerment isn't taken lightly, and involuntary manslaughter even less so.

Now, I don't want to live in a world like that, but when people's lives are at risk, people who didn't make the choice to be at risk, I'm going to stand up for them. Because their agency - their freedom to live their lives - is at risk when someone chooses not to vaccinate. Your freedom to choose ends where someone else's life begins. Vaccines aren't just about protecting your child; it's about protecting all people. There are millions of people whose very lives depend on the fact that other people are vaccinated, and so when someone chooses to go unvaccinated, they are choosing to put the lives of others at risk.

I'm not a fan of mandatory vaccines; in an ideal world, the public would have enough scientific literacy to understand our immune systems and vaccines and have the moral fortitude to do what is right for everyone. But you either make the choice and live with the aforementioned consequences, or you don't get a choice at all because you're not capable of making one without harming those around you. Driving drunk, not washing your hands after using the bathroom, refusing to vaccinate - all of these are individual choices that have widespread repercussions. If you're not willing to face the consequences, then you don't get to choose.

There are real victims of vaccination, but they are not those who get vaccinated. They are those who encounter those who refuse to do so.

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