February 4, 2015

Vaccinations against infectious diseases

A few citizens and politicians have gone a little crazy recently in their attitudes towards vaccinations, especially the measles vaccination given an outbreak of measles in California at Disneyland that has now spread to other states.  The issue seems to be individual freedom vs. the public good and public health concerns.  It seems to me that there has always been and always will be a difference between those concerned about what is in the public interest and those concerned primarily with their own freedom to do whatever they want to do.

Children, in general, are self-centered.  But as they move past the teen years and into adulthood, persons tend to mature and recognize that personal desires must be put aside in consideration of what is best for the community.  This leads to such things as drivers licenses, speed laws, and prisons to protect the public interest from self-centered criminals.  It also leads to vaccinations of infectious diseases in the public interest.

Today's "opinion" from The Wall Street Journal sums it up well:

"Government doesn't 'force' parents to vaccinate children. The states impose penalties (such as barring attendance in public schools) on those who pose a risk to public health by refusing vaccinations against infectious diseases.  This strikes us as a legitimate use of state 'police powers' under the Constitution. It is also a reasonable and small sacrifice of liberty to prevent the potentially fatal infection of unsuspecting infants at Disneyland."