It’s Time for the State to Put an End to the Anti-Vaccination Movement
by Benjamin Studebaker
Measles is on the move again in Disneyland. Unvaccinated children are catching and spreading the disease in California. Things have gotten so dire that kids with cancer (whose immune systems are compromised and so cannot be vaccinated) are afraid to go to school for fear that unvaccinated children will give them the disease. The risks are not merely to unvaccinated children, but to the general population as a whole–unvaccinated people provide breeding grounds for long forgotten pathogens, giving them opportunities to mutate into strands that the vaccines do not protect against. Enough is enough. It’s time for the state to put an end to this nonsense. Here’s why.
I want to start by reminding everyone that the anti-vaccination movement has no scientific case whatsoever. I’m not going to spend paragraphs arguing against the movement’s claims. If you doubt the efficacy of vaccines, I urge you to check out this link, where a wide array of anti-vaccination claims are meticulously debunked. For the purposes of this piece, we’re going to assume that you, the reader, are a reasonable, well-informed person who understands that vaccines do what scientists claim they do–immunize people against preventable diseases.
What I’m here to argue is not that vaccines are good for you (they clearly are), but that they are so good for children and for our society as a whole that the state should no longer permit parents to obtain exemptions from vaccine requirements for their children. I want to be very clear about this. It is my view that the state should label failure to vaccinate child abuse and criminalize it. Parents who do not vaccinate should go to prison and their children should be taken away from them. Vaccination is an idea that is so good it must be mandatory. I don’t care what your religion says. I don’t care what your personal beliefs are. Mandatory.
There are two reasons that we should have the government nakedly, openly, and unapologetically coerce these parents:
- The Children–unvaccinated children are being put in unnecessary and unreasonable risk.
- Society–unvaccinated children compromise herd immunity and threaten all of us with mutated monster diseases.
In California, failing to vaccinate is a straight-up epidemic:
California’s data is the best, but it’s far from the worst state when it comes to vaccinations. There are 12 states with lower vaccination rates, and even the top state (Mississippi, surprisingly) only manages to fully vaccinate 76% of its children. Since 2007, it’s estimated that this has resulted in over 144,000 preventable illnesses and over 6,000 preventable fatalities in the United States alone. That’s about 20,000 illnesses and 860 deaths per year, and as the anti-vaccination movement spreads, this will likely get worse. For comparison, only 650 children die in car crashes each year. Not getting vaccinated is more dangerous than failing to buckle up. Why do I mention seatbelts and child restraints? Because all US states have laws that criminalize failing to properly secure one’s offspring when driving. There are no religious or personal belief exemptions. And do you know why? Because putting a child in a car without a seat belt or restraint subjects that child to an unnecessary and unreasonable risk of injury or death. The child cannot understand the risk or consent to it, so the state protects children by legally requiring restraints.
Many parents whose personal beliefs are in the minority believe that they are entitled to impose those beliefs on their children. In most cases, the state allows parents wide latitude when deciding how to raise their children, but there are limits to this. When parents engage in behavior that endangers their children, we criminalize that behavior and threaten parents who engage in it with prison and potential loss of custody. You can’t starve your kids, you can’t beat them, you can’t have sex with them. You can’t put them in a car without restraining them. You can’t leave them in a hot car for three hours. It doesn’t matter what your religious beliefs are, when the welfare of the child is threatened by the beliefs of the parent, the child comes first. And for that reason, even if herd immunity wasn’t an issue and failing to vaccinate only posed a risk for the children themselves, it would still be appropriate to criminalize it. No parent should be permitted to subject any child to any risk of measles, mumps, rubella, whooping cough, or any of the other preventable diseases (and potentially lethal) diseases.
The sad thing is that the vaccination problem isn’t just limited to the children who go without. The larger the percentage of the population that goes without, the easier it is for these anachronistic diseases to spread throughout the population (“herd immunity”). And the more people they can reach and reproduce in, the more opportunities they will have to mutate and evolve, leading to vaccine-resistant strains:
I don’t have to tell you how bad that is, but I will anyway. Remember how spooked everyone was over Ebola? They needn’t have been, because Ebola isn’t especially contagious. On average, each person who catches Ebola only infects 2 others. Each person who catches the mumps can infect 10 people. And measles? 18. Check the data out:
Do you want to catch mutated mumps or measles? I sure don’t. Would you be willing to have the government force ignorant parents to get their kids vaccinated to make sure nobody ever does? I sure would. This really doesn’t seem like the sort of thing we should mess around with. It’s easy to forget now, but before vaccines, an immense number of people got sick and died every year from these diseases. Rubella killed 2,000 American babies from 1964-1965 alone. 15,000 Americans died from diphtheria in 1921. Do we really want to risk allowing mutations to take us back to that just so a rogue cohort of deeply ignorant people’s beliefs are not offended? Come on, seriously?
The good news is that there’s already a legal precedent for requiring vaccinations. In the 1905 Jacobson v. Massachusetts case, the Supreme Court ruled that states could enforce compulsory vaccination laws. That precedent was upheld in 1922, when the court ruled that schools could refuse to admit students that did not submit to compulsory vaccinations. Nowhere in these decisions does the Supreme Court require the government to permit religious or personal belief exemptions to vaccination laws. Said the court:
According to settled principles, the police power of a State must be held to embrace, at least, such reasonable regulations established directly by legislative enactment as will protect the public health and the public safety.
The vaccination question is not a question of personal beliefs or tastes. It is a question of public health and safety. The anti-vaccination movement puts the health and safety of the public at unnecessary and unreasonable risk. The government has a duty to stamp it out. For too long, we’ve been asking ourselves how we can convince the anti-vaccine crowd to voluntarily stop damaging public health. This is the wrong question. We don’t need to convince them, we need to coerce them. Quickly! Before these diseases spread and mutate! There’s no time.
Why is it that I agree with everything you post? You’ve got to get out of my head! 🙂
Once again, a very nice write up. Especially illuminating was the statistical comparison to seat belt laws.
Thank you, I’m glad you’re finding me so consistent. 🙂
[…] or dangerous. The big one in the news lately is the anti-vaccination movement, which I wrote about the other day. This movement is already responsible for raising measles from the dead, and there’s no […]
Vaccination is a medical treatment, therefore prescription must comply with patient’s rights: proper diagnosis, prognosis and informed consent. Forced treatment can only occur in the presence of an immediate and identified threat to public health. Measles is not a threat.
The Supreme Court ruled that the diseases vaccinations protect against do constitute an immediate and identified threat to public health in 1905. See Jacobson v. Massachusetts. Even with the prevalence of the measles vaccine throughout much of the world, 145,000 people died of measles in 2013.
Jacobson v. MA:
1905? Give me a break! Measles mortality had been declining steadily before the vaccine was invented.
What caused the decline ? Whatever it was it couldn’t have been the vaccines, could it?Whatever the factors, they’re still preventing deaths today vaccine (see nutrition, hygiene, living conditions…)
Mortality in unvaccinated populations was 1 in 10.000 in the UK (1981) . That’s 10 x less than the figure peddled by the vax-pushers and the CDC.
See lie #1:
Your “debunking” #1 says: “Both graphs are real, but one shows death (mortality)”
But I was talking about MORTALITY, so your “debunk” is moot.
The issue is that the vaccine drastically reduced the number of cases. That’s what vaccine proponents claim they do. No one is claiming that vaccines lower the morality rate for those already infected. Medical science has many other tools for treating infectious diseases once people have them, but it is far better if people never get these diseases in the first place. When diseases have the opportunity to spread, they also have the opportunity to mutate into more deadly strands, and even when they are not lethal they cause serious suffering.
The issue was “immediate and identified threat to the public”. An illness with low to no mortality and no other lasting consequences is not a threat to public health.
Additionally, it is known that some vaccines pose a higher risk to health than the diseases they pretend to prevent.
Regarding measles, In the last ten years there have been zero deaths in the US versus 83 deaths reported from measles vaccine.
Indeed, that’s how the polio vaccine is spreading polio in Africa and other parts of the world:
Well it seems spreading mutating viruses is “good” when it’s done by the industry and “bad” if done by unvaccinated kids.Oh well.. the science!
Any disease that incapacitates and causes serious suffering to a child for a week or more most definitely constitutes a immediate and identified threat to the public, regardless of whether or not it proves lethal.
The study you cite is almost 40 years old. The CDC has accurate, up to date information on the potential side effects from the pertussis vaccine, and it strongly recommends it:
That’s ypur personal ad hoc definition of Threat to Public Health. in reality though, the concept has to do with epidemics of deadly diseases, not with diseases per se.
Here are some definitions of “Threat to Public Health” by country: http://ec.europa.eu/dgs/home-affairs/what-we-do/networks/european_migration_network/reports/docs/ad-hoc-queries/residence/470._emn_ad-hoc_query_on_serious_diseases_threatening_public_health_%28wider_dissemination%29.pdf
Many of these definitions you cite make no exclusive mention of lethality and refer to epidemic potential, which refers to the rate at which the disease spreads. As stated in the original post, measles has a very high rate of spread. Additionally, US courts have recently upheld the Jacobson decision explicitly referring to the precedent it set:
The precedent you cite is a rejection of an exemption by religious grounds. Wrong defence, an objection to forced treatment has to be made on patient’s rights grounds: lack of due diagnosis, lack of due prognosis and lack of informed consent.
The point of view that an uninfected child is a danger to public health is a violation of human rights.
No American court has ever accepted that argument, nor should any American court ever accept that argument. The science is settled and public health concerns outweigh individual consent.
Public health outweighs individual consent only when there’s an immediate threat to public health, that is, a declared emergency.
See HIV for example, people infected are not forced treatments for the sake of “public health”.
To my knowledge, the argument of lack of immediate threat to public health has never been rejected by an American court. It has never been used in court regarding vaccine disputes, but it’s the one I’d use.
The science – and the fraud – is far from settled, a look at PUBMED debunks such a claim in 5 minutes.
That’s not what the courts have ruled. Nowhere in the 1905 case or in any of the cases that reference it does it say that there must be a “declared emergency”. There is no legal basis for the argument you’re offering here. As far as the science goes, unless you’re alleging that the CDC and pediatricians across the country are part of some vast conspiracy, it’s settled. On what basis do you think yourself in a better epistemic position to judge the research than these doctors and scientists? Do you honestly believe that these people haven’t read the studies you’re cherrypicking? Do you really think that you know better than they do?
By the way, getting a vaccine can possible prevent you from falling ill, but you can still be an “asymptomatic carrier” and spread the virus.
Acellular pertussis vaccines protect against disease but fail to prevent infection and transmission in a nonhuman primate model
This means the vaccinated remain as much a threat to public health as the unvaxed. Your argument suffers another defeat.
But you’re drastically much less likely to acquire or spread the virus if you’re vaccinated. That’s the point. No one is claiming 100% effectiveness here. You’re attacking a straw man.
Acquiring the virus is just as likely for all. Vaccines may at most prevent illness in some. Live vaccines spread viruses where there were none to start with. Such is the case of polio and the measles.
Polio outbreak sparked by vaccine, experts say
Now you call this “prevention”?
It’s justified to claim that vaccines are the source of outbreaks for diseases that were practically eradicated. Just look at typhus or scarlet fever, they went away without vaccines.
Again, I refer you to the graph under lie #1, which conclusively establishes that vaccines drastically reduced the rate at which these diseases spread:
The polio vaccine has almost completely eliminated that disease worldwide:
The claims you’re making are false.
Great article but you have a statistical misrepresentation.You point out that 860 people die from preventable illnesses per year and only 650 children die in car accidents so not getting vaccinated is more dangerous than failing to buckle up.
You are comparing children in one instance and people in the other, I assume the number of children who die from preventable illnesses is lower than the 860 people given some will be adults and may well be lower than the number who die in car accidents.
Although regardless of the number I agree with you, it is frightening that people still don’t vaccinate their children.
A fair point–I suppose I made the comparison this way because the choice in both cases is made by parents (i.e. not to buckle up the child to to vaccinate the child), even though the consequences of failure to vaccinate may not show up until much later in life.