Sunday, September 14, 2008

UNvaccinated children get the measles more often.

At the Chicagoist:
Illinois Measles On The Rise
Illinois had more cases of measles than any other state this year, and according to the CDC, most of the people infected were unvaccinated children who are homeschooled. According to Cook County Public Health Department's Catherine Counard, not vaccinating a child affects more than just one person. "[Parents are] making a choice for the entire community. Because they're putting others at risk. And if their children become infected and expose a newborn infant who then dies, thats a pretty serious consequence."
Well, duh.

At the risk of being too analytical, though, I disagree with the health official in this sense. The community as a whole is unaffected. The age to vaccinate is 12-15 months and the primary transmission vector is schoolchildren well past that age. The only ones at risk are the child's own family, not the infants of the community at large. Only those who have made the same decision share the same worry.

At what point does the mother no longer have the right to make decisions for her own children? How about decisions that the rest of us deem stupid? What if we're all wrong? As someone who identifies himself as a libertarian, I would put be very hesitant to remove this fundamental choice from the parent.

As a nation, we've gone too far in many ways. We've turned into a Nanny State. We pretend we can remove all chance of any injury however minor, and go to extreme lengths even to avoid what might be termed "beneficial injury."

My kids are vaccinated. They are safe against measles. We made our decision and these homeschooled kids are not a danger to the rest of us, only themselves. This other parent has been informed and has made a decision. May she never have cause to regret it and if she does have cause to regret it, may she have the strength of her convictions to sustain her.

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