Mandated vaccinations, or not? That’s the question going viral in America.
And the cure to quell the increasingly nasty debate? Common sense.
Government-mandated vaccination is one of those issues that turn traditional political positions upside down. Some who believe that a paternalistic government knows best are staunchly opposed. On the flip side, many civil libertarians, who abhor governmental intrusion in private lives, nonetheless think that the public must be protected from communicable diseases through required vaccination.
Unfortunately, because misinformation spreads more quickly than measles, the debate has turned ugly, with some even resorting to death threats against opponents. Mandated vaccinations or not, one thing is certain: We’ll never solve this problem if civility and open-mindedness are replaced by hatred.
With objectivity in mind, here is a sober look at the situation:
1. Fact: Vaccines work. They are so effective that many diseases, responsible for millions of deaths, have literally been wiped off the face of the earth. Are they safe? Absolutely. Is that a 100 percent guarantee? That’s an incredibly stupid question, though it’s being asked frequently by some in the anti-vaccination crowd. Nothing is 100 percent except taxes, death, and more taxes.
Rejecting vaccines on the naive premise that a safe outcome can’t be guaranteed should come as no surprise. America has become a risk-averse nation where attempts to “sanitize” everything is commonplace, from the sports field to the classroom to the office. But common sense tells us that’s simply impossible, since real life isn’t always rainbows and lollypops. Never has been, never will be. There is risk in everything, so the best we can do is mitigate those risks and play the odds. Nowhere is that more applicable than in getting vaccinated.
2. Are government-mandated vaccines a slippery slope? Without a doubt. Any time the people willingly give the government that level of power, the possibility exists for abuse and uncontrolled overreach in the name of “the greater good.” Where will it end? Should flu shots be mandated? How about new Ebola vaccines hastily brought to market? Once government mandates (for anything) are implemented, they almost never go away, and continue to grow.
Throughout history, Big Government has run roughshod over individual rights much more than it has respected them. So yes, the possibility is very real that government will go too far should it be given the power to mandate vaccines for certain diseases.
But there is a solution to that problem. It’s called we the people, exercising our unique rights as Americans to call the shots in this country – no pun intended. We, along with the free press, are the ultimate check-and-balance to an oppressive government. It’s our job to ensure it stays within the limits we set. If we don’t, we’ll have no one to blame but ourselves.
But this is nothing new. The price of democracy has always been eternal vigilance.
3. Mandated vaccines should be decided on a case-by-case basis depending on the disease. Sure, the flu is contagious, and kills thousands annually. But since the flu strain changes each year, flu shots are guesswork; they are a solid defense, but never a guarantee against contracting the flu, as this year’s vaccine demonstrated. But that’s apples-to-oranges compared to many of nature’s other, far more potent killers – ones we have defeated – from measles to polio to smallpox.
Determining which vaccines should be mandated is a challenge, but one that with vigilance and common sense, can be solved.
4. Vaccine mandates should not be confused with governmental overreach in other areas, such as when Connecticut forcibly injected chemotherapy into a 17-year old girl who didn’t want the treatment. Since cancer isn’t transmittable, and she was the only person affected, her decision should have been respected.
Contrast that with measles’ 90 percent contagion rate, which jeopardizes newborns and high-risk individuals who cannot be vaccinated, and it’s a no-brainer why mandated vaccinations trump an individual’s rights.
5. Given that the point is to protect the general public from highly communicable diseases, why do schools allow parents to opt out for religious or personal reasons, as they do in Pennsylvania? Having catch-all exemptions defeats the whole purpose of mandatory vaccinations.
6. There must be a system to compensate individuals who have an adverse reaction, from health care to remuneration. Just as unfunded mandates are inherently unfair, so too would be requiring medical injections with no protections for the individual should something go wrong.
Many people aren’t getting vaccinated because they’re buying into the myth that autism is caused by vaccines. It’s not.
There is virtually no evidence to support that claim, especially after a British medical study linking childhood vaccines to autism, often quoted by the anti-vaccination movement, was found to be a total fabrication. Frustrating as it is not knowing what causes autism, it doesn’t help by stabbing in the dark, looking for someone or something to blame, especially when it results in non-vaccinations based on a faulty premise.
And the claim that the pharmaceutical industry is in cahoots with the FDA? Give us a break.
Vaccine profits account for a mere fraction of total revenue – a reason why many companies have exited the vaccine business altogether. In more practical terms, does anyone really believe that in our social media society, where we constantly tell the world everything we’re doing, that a conspiracy on that level would stay secret for more than five minutes?
Ignorance-based misinformation is one thing, but it is abhorrent when parents purposely infect their children at “measles parties” so they become immune “the natural way.” Doing so is child abuse, plain and simple, and parents should be charged. Making decisions that affect only oneself, insane as they may be, is that person’s business. But when the lives of others, especially children, are deliberately placed in life-threatening situations, there is an obligation for the government to intervene.
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“If we’re extinguished, there’s nothing natural about that … it’s just stupid.” So said Matthew Broderick’s character in “War Games” when talking about nuclear war.
If just a single life is extinguished by once-eradicated diseases because the ignorant go unvaccinated, it will show we still don’t have a vaccination for the most prevalent human disease: stupidity.
Vaccination Mandates Are Necessary