After watching from the sidelines as the recent measles outbreak brought about the gnashing of teeth and the pulling of hair from what are otherwise mostly sane folks, I thought I might take a stab at adding another line of argument to the debate.
Before I get too far into the subject, let me state that I believe that the autism connection with vaccines has been pretty well discredited. Were I to have children I would probably get them vaccinated, and were I to choose not to, I would not move to Marin county.
Vaccines are a medical procedure, as such, folks have a right to know the dangers and a right to refuse the procedure. These are basic rights and are a standard part of medical ethics. Each vaccine comes with a Vaccine Information Statement. This statement lists what disease is being vaccinated against, the dangers of the disease, and the risks of the vaccination. No vaccine is without some risk, as a parent it is your right and responsibility to weigh the risks and benefits to determine the proper course for your child.
Since measles are in the news, lets take a moment to look at the risks associated with the MMR vaccine. Some are quite mild but pervasive; fever (1 in 6), rash (1 in 20), swelling of glands (1 in 75). Other reactions are quite serious, if less common; seizures (1 in 3000), low platelet count leading to bleeding disorder (1 in 30000). Severe problems are rare (1 in 1000000), but include deafness, long term seizures, coma, lowered consciousness, and permanent brain damage. Now multiply this danger, from one common vaccination, by the 20+ vaccines and boosters that are recommended in the first 2 years and add the vaccines that pregnant women are recommended and it becomes understandable why some might choose not to vaccinate.
While mercury has been removed from childhood vaccines (it is still in flu shots and other adult vaccines), they still contain aluminum and formaldehyde. Can anyone actually state that it is a good idea to inject babies with formaldehyde?
Want to make me change my views on this? Simply repeal the congress granted immunity that the vaccine manufacturers have. If the manufacturers themselves lobbied congress for immunity from liability, then even they question the safety of their own product. And the fact that congress acted on it, shows that they too question the safety. If the vaccines are so safe, why did congress step in to “immunize” these corporations from liability?
My final argument supporting vaccination choice, is just that…choice. Were we to force vaccinations as some societal good, then why not force abortions on women who might not have the resources to properly raise a child? Certainly, society has an interest? (For the record, I would oppose that also.) While some may argue that this is a slippery slope argument, it can certainly also be argued that this is simply carrying the idea to its logical conclusion. If a woman’s right to her own body is so sacrosanct that she can choose to kill her unborn child, than certainly one’s right to their own body and its functions must include the right to reject a medical procedure that you find unsavory, FOR WHATEVER REASON.
For these reasons, I unequivocally support a parent’s inherent right to reject vaccinations for their children.
Vaccine Information Statements at CDC
Recommended vaccination chart (pdf file)
Edit: Interesting fact; since 2005 there have been zero deaths from measles and 86 deaths from the MMR vaccine.