Along with the measles outbreak in the western states comes an outbreak of debate over whether vaccinations should be mandatory. The debate has even reached the 2016 Presidential campaign with Rand Paul, Chris Christie and Ben Carson all weighing in on the subject.
While the medical community stands solidly behind vaccination programs, some parents are balking because they believe some vaccines are dangerous and may be linked to autism and other disorders. Personally I do not have the medical knowledge to pass judgment on the issue, although some of my closest friends and family might have suspicions that some of my personality disorders were caused by a vaccine. I do know that a lot of people are probably alive today because they were vaccinated as children, many are able to walk because they did not contract polio, and small pox no longer kills people.
At the same time, I also understand the hesitancy some people have about injecting their children with substances they are not convinced are safe. The most primal instinct of parents is to protect their children, and parents on both sides of the issue believe that is what they are doing. I remember as a child lining up in the hallway at school while the nurse used an air gun to inject all of us with multiple vaccines, and I’m not sure our parents were even consulted before they did it. That was a much simpler time then, and people had not begun to question the safety of those medications.
Although the medical community assures us that these vaccinations are safe, science has failed us in the past. You cannot watch an hour of television without seeing at least one ad for a law firm leading a class action suit against a drug manufacturer because some bladder control drug is causing horns to grow out of people’s foreheads or something similar. Is it any wonder a generation that has embraced organic food, yoga, aroma therapy, and hybrid cars would be hesitant to inject their children with substances made by the companies that for years the Left has been referring to as “Big Pharma”?
The question of whether or not to vaccinate your children is one you have to answer for yourself, but there is a much larger question that we have to raise – How did we reach the point that people believe it is acceptable for the government to require someone to undergo any form of medical treatment? As a former EMT, I was trained that a patient had a right to refuse treatment and that we had to respect that decision. While vaccinations may well be a very good idea, not all good ideas should be made mandatory.
This is clearly a case where the rights of the individual are at odds with the rights of the collective. If we allow the government to override individual rights in favor of collective rights in this situation, what comes next? We are now saddled with Obamacare, making public health an issue of cost to the taxpayers, so it doesn’t take much to imagine government controls over your diet, compulsory exercise programs, or even government mandated psychiatric screenings.
The argument that vaccines make us safer is compelling, but it is not the government’s role to keep us safe, it is supposed to keep us free.