I found this article advocating that parents who don’t vaccinate their kids be subject to criminal charges or civil sanctions.
The article makes a good point. Anti–vaxxers are a threat to public health. There are certain people, such as those with weakened immune systems, or the extremely young, who cannot take them. Those people are therefore dependent on herd immunity to avoid getting sick and possibly dying. Anti–vaxxers therefore are potentially giving a disease to people who might die from it.
And people who (falsely) think vaccinations cause autism are either outright malicious or haven’t thought through to the logical consequences of their beliefs. I mean, vaccines prevent deadly diseases. And by refusing vaccinations for their children, they are in effect choosing a greater risk of dying over (according to their beliefs) a lower chance of autism. In other words, they’d rather their kid die than get autism. Do those people even know what they’re saying about themselves?
So yes, there should be no “philosophical” or religious exemptions for vaccinations, and refusers should be criminally charged. Anti–vaxxers are a threat to themselves and others, and in this respect are clearly unfit parents.
And while we’re at this, can we also treat refusals of newborn screening and choosing faith healing over modern medicine for dependent children? Far too many children have ended up dead because of this.
A hospital in Indiana has fired eight employees because they refused flu shots (via). Good. It’s about time someone grew a spine and stood up to religious extremists who put the health and lives of the public at risk. And can we start doing this in BC, now? Update: My apologies, I didn’t read the date carefully enough. This is from a year ago. But still, the principle behind it still holds.
And to those who want religious exemptions from doing the job the voluntarily signed up for, be careful what you wish for. (Indeed, I think that it is pretty likely that the same people who support the people in Indiana would object to this second group, even though both are using the same justifications for not doing what is necessary for their job).
In today’s paper, I read this story. The actions of some people in it are absolutely mind–blowing and very much a threat to public health:
The B.C. government has temporarily backed away from a controversial plan to force thousands of provincial health workers to get a flu shot before they can work with patients.
Health care is the exact sort of industry where flu shots should be mandatory. The only way out should be a medical exemption, none of this personal choice bullshit. You would think that nurses and other health care workers would know better than to fall for anti–vaxxer bullshit. This is how we get (as reported in the article) more than half of all health care workers not getting a flu shot. But few things surprise me anymore.
And the position of the head of the Health Sciences Association (a union) is dangerous:
“[Members of the HSA (who are health care workers)] are entitled to that choice [to have a flu shot or not because they should make their own health care decisions] and they’re entitled to the privacy of that choice. Under this new policy people had to be identified as having had the shot, in fact the employer was publishing a list of people who had the flu shot. We just said that was a violation of people’s privacy.”
I agree that people have a right to privacy. But what you don’t have is the right to give the flu to someone who might die from it.
According to a study in The Lancet, widespread availability of contraception in developing countries could prevent an additional 104,000 maternal deaths yearly. Furthermore, in places where contraception is already available, 272,040 maternal deaths were prevented. (More specifically, perhaps as few as 127,937 or as many as 407,134 maternal deaths were prevented.)
You see that? Birth control saves lives. No one in their right mind could possibly be opposed to saving 200,000 lives each year. This therefore means that those so–called pro–lifers will be all in favour of more widespread contraception availability in developing countries, right? (Crickets chirping….)
Trigger warning due to graphic picture.
Anti-vaxxers who take their kids to “pox parties” are misguided and putting their children at risk. They have this bizarre belief that acquiring immunity to the varicella zoster virus is somehow safer or more effective than the vaccine. This is incorrect. The vaccine is effective at preventing chicken pox and is safer than the actual infection.
It’s not jus the fact that pox parties expose your kids to something that might kill them that makes them dangerous. You are also threatening them decades down the line. This is because of the way the VZV works.
The VZV is a kind of herpesvirus, and infections with herpesviruses can literally be described as lasting forever. When your body beats chicken pox and you recover, the virus is not eliminated. Rather, it goes latent and “hides” inside nerve cells. It can stay there for an indefinite time. Then, years or decades later, it reactivates, migrates down the ganglia, infects skin cells near the ganglia, and causes shingles (herpes zoster).
Need I mention that shingles is really painful and even disfiguring? Even when the outbreak is over, the pain can last for months or years due to nerve damage (this is known as postherpetic neuralgia). Also, what do you think happens if shingles occurs in a facial nerve?
If shingles breaks out near the geniculate ganglion, is causes what is known as Ramsay Hunt Syndrome type II. Besides the rash from shingles, it also has horrible ear pain, and potentially permanent unilateral hearing loss and facial paralysis.
And then there is herpes zoster ophthalmicus. That can cause permanent vision loss and debilitating pain. A picture of what this looks like is after the jump (graphic).