To Vax or Not to Vax

measlesThe debate over vaccination has been heating up especially south of the border (in the USA) lately due to a measles outbreak centred around Disneyland. It’s a debate that’s also been lighting up a few discussion threads in one of the ex-Christian Scientist Facebook groups. The anti-vaxxers are taking it hard on the chin on this one, and in my opinion, well they should. Their opinions, as I see it, are framed by a resoundingly dis-proven theory of a connection between certain vaccines and autism, pseudo-scientific claims, anecdotal evidence, and mere corroborative evidence. Anyone who knows anything about genuine science knows that anecdotes and corroborations are not in and of themselves scientific evidence. To say I’m sick to death of Facebook posts putting forth anecdotal and corroborative evidence as irrefutable proof of harm would be to say that a hurricane is just a mild breeze. I’m tired of the stupid in this world. It’s getting fatiguing.

The rise of the anti-vaxxer viewpoint has brought about a marked increase in the occurrence of many diseases that were extremely rare just 20 years ago. Leading the fight against vaccination has always been the Christian Science Church. Christian Science-affiliated organizations, in particular Principia School and College have been at the epicentre of several outbreaks of measles over recent years. So, it isn’t just Jenny McCarthy to blame.

However, my wider views on whether or not people should vaccinate or not are complicated. Given that I grew up in and practiced Christian Science for much of my adult life, my relationship with medical science is complex and evolving. I personally am not vaccinated yet against anything other than tetanus. I do plan to seek my doctor’s advice at our next annual appointment (I forgot to ask last time) on whether or not I need/should be vaccinated against anything else at this point in my life (I’m in my mid 40s). If it isn’t considered necessary by her, I won’t do it. But, it is my doctor’s advice, framed by her education and experience, not the advice of some stupid celebrity or Facebook meme, that will inform my course of action.

While I think vaccination is something everyone should do, and I think you’re just plain stupid not to vaccinate unless you have a medical reason not to, I do have a problem with the government mandating the injection of chemicals into the bodies of those who would prefer not to. Hence the conflict and complication of my point of view. I just think that forced vaccination is a potentially slippery slope towards greater and much more insidious erosion of personal freedom. However, those who choose not to vaccinate should be made to bear the entire burden of their stupid (in my opinion) and uninformed (in my opinion) choices. If they are quarantined to protect others, I’m quite fine with that. If they have to defend themselves against a lawsuit brought by a victim of their stupidity, I’m quite fine with that too.

One of the sad burdens of living in a free society is that we all need to acknowledge the right of others to be…well…stupid. It’s a burden we all must bear unfortunately. However, on the other side of that coin, the stupid must be responsible for their stupidity.

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