The controversy over student vaccinations

VaccinationsVaccinations are one of the greatest achievements in all of human history when it comes to societal health and well-being, but increasing numbers of families are opting out of supposedly ‘mandatory’ vaccinations for their children. This of course raises dilemmas about the appropriate balance between individual liberty and social responsibility.

In a recent article, Dr. Paul Offit, chief of infectious diseases and head of the vaccine institute at Children’s Hospital in Philadelphia, states:

We’ve already dropped below the level of vaccine coverage where herd immunity exists for some diseases. At some point, we’re going to be forced to decide whether it is an inalienable right to catch and transmit potentially fatal infections.

There are times when individuals’ philosophical or religious beliefs must give way to the common good. I think that mandatory vaccinations are one of those situations. I feel sorry for the unfortunate principal or superintendent that has to admit unvaccinated kids to school, hoping that the free ride those students get because everyone else is vaccinated is enough to prevent an outbreak of a disease that should be all but eliminated.

What do you think about this issue?

12 Responses to “The controversy over student vaccinations”

  1. It almost smacks of socialism, but unfortunately there is a line where personal freedom is hazardous. There are a few other issues that fall in this same realm as well. It is one thing if you smoke and have to pay for the effects yourself (though we all really pay). It is another to begin an epidemic.

    Should students be denied entrance to school if they do not follow mandated vaccinations? Yes. Why be required to attend school if you are putting others at risk.

  2. Isn’t there a technology answer for this? How about attending class via the internet or video conference? Depending on the age of the student. (I think it is best to be able to read from a live person before you go virtual as a student. Love those elementary reading teachers!)

  3. Parents who refuse to vaccinate their children are idiots. Period.

  4. Kia ora Scott!

    I agree with you. But I understand that the trust people in western civilisations had in Science, and what should emanate from it, waned significantly towards the end of last century. I think that this is a major factor that brings people to be less accepting of the logical and the ‘common sense’ approaches that were so much part of life in this context at the middle of the 20th century.

    We can see the effect that this attitude is having on opinion in the religions (creationism vs Darwinism, for example) and the rise in fundamentalism over the globe.

    I am a double Science graduate. I used to eat, drink, teach, live and sleep Science. For a while, even as a teacher, I couldn’t see why other people didn’t think as I did about the place of Science in society. The fact is that most didn’t. They still don’t in the main, only more so now than before.

    Belief is a very powerful human attribute. It can be acquired in many different ways – through upbringing, culture, indoctrination, education, to name a few.

    The flower power freedom years decades after WWII brought into play the beliefs within western civilisations that it was okay to have an individual opinion. Diversity was fostered in this context. It became okay to be different and okay to think differently.

    Constructivism, if you like, came into its own – and not just in the classroom.

    So we are now living in a new era, when people feel it’s okay to make up their own minds about things, including whether children should be vaccinated. Who is to blame the parents who, genuinely, don’t know what to do or how to make up their minds? Who is to blame the parents who, genuinely, believe that Science brings bad things upon us? Read Silent Spring by Rachel Carson to answer that question.

    Ka kite
    from Middle-earth

  5. Your statistic up front is a little frightening. If 56% believe this, it shows the downside of Wisdom of the Crowds.

  6. My wife and I chose to hold our children back from some vaccines, not for philosophical reasons, but for practical reasons. Some vaccines are dangerous, some are not needed.

    Without getting into specifics, we looked carefully and responsibly at each and went round and round with the school nurse before we came to a compromise.

    We keep our older kids informed of what vaccines they have not had. When they are 18 they can get any vaccines they feel are needed.

    If you believe personal liberty must take a back seat to the common good, then you must rely on the whims of the majority to decide what the common good is.In the past this has led to liberty stealing civilizations such as Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy.

  7. Wow – that didn’t take long for Godwin’s Law… by you “looked carefully and responsibly”, do you mean “we listened to the scare-mongering tactics of the anti-science vaccines-give-you-autism brigade”? Because there’s no *reputable* research showing that vaccines are dangerous (not needed, maybe, but as the article states, below a certain immunized threshold, immunity is not guaranteed)…

  8. I believe that parents should be able to opt out of vaccination for their philosophical or religious beliefs. However, I see parents opt out simply because they do not want to be bothered by the school nurse to get the vaccinations. At my school, we do not make it common knowledge that vaccination is something that can be opted out of. I have seen some schools who have gotten so tired of chasing after these parents that they actually give them the form to sign to opt out of the vaccination so that the school can stay compliant with state law. That is as irresponsible as the parents who opt out with out holding a strong philosophical or religious belief.

  9. With a small child going through vaccinations at every Dr.s visit, my husband and I have talked about this a great deal. We of course brought our pediatrician into the the mix and what decision we needed to make for our family.

    What surprised me the most was my husband’s reaction to all of this. After traveling in Africa and seeing children and adults alike suffer from polio and other diseases that we have not seen rampant in America, he felt very differently than I did.

    I think if you want to opt out – which you should have the right to do, the government is not mandating it, then you have to realize what you are giving up. If you look at a good deal of homeschoolers, they feel strongly about not vaccinating.

  10. I live in NJ, where our children receive over 60 doses of vaccinations before they reach school age, if parents follow recommended schedules. Unfortunately, most vaccines have not been thoroughly tested, and never tested on children since that is illegal. Most of the vaccines given to children today are so new that we really don’t know how they affect children. In effect, our kids are guinea pigs. And we are being forced to give our children vaccines for diseases that are not even life-threatening. I do have an issue with this, because we really don’t know what we are doing to our kids with these vaccines. Parents should have a choice, for either religious or philisophical reasons.

  11. Vaccines are POISON. The only one[s] who benefit from vaccines are PHARMACEUTICALS. Lots of Vitamin D will protect you from the flu and many other diseases. DON’T be fooled by paid off media hype. STOP the sickening assault on humanity.

Leave a Reply