Vaccines have been a hot topic for a while. People on both sides of the argument can get very emotional defending their beliefs. Just posing the question as to whether or not you should vaccinate your children will raise eyebrows. I’ve heard friends and acquaintances whisper from time to time something like, “She doesn’t vaccinate her children, keep your kids away from hers.”
I have no idea how effective vaccines are. The CDC says 93.3% of children get the polio vaccine, but the same organization says there have been no cases of Polio originating in the US since 1979. Well that means 0% of the children who were given the vaccine eventually got Polio, but also 0% of the children who did not receive the vaccine got Polio. I’m always skeptical of our dear leaders, so the fact that the CDC pushes vaccines so hard makes me think it’s possible something else is happening. But I also realize that 93.3% of children getting the Polio vaccine aren’t dropping dead on the spot.
That brings me to the real reason I’m against mandatory vaccines and it’s not just because the government tells me to get one. The CDC’s own website lists the potential side effects of common vaccines. There are several possible side effects ranging including headaches, allergic reactions, fever, swollen glands, and other relatively minor ailments. But under just about every vaccine they give a warning, “As with any medicine, there is a very small chance of a vaccine causing a serious injury or death.”
They do not say how small the chance is, but this pro-vaccine article says the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (NVICP) has paid out 3,256 claim as of March, 2013 (The National Vaccine Information Center says over $2 billion in compensation has been paid). They estimate that .003% of vaccinated children received a claim, saying the vaccines are 99.997% safe. In other words, only 3 out of 100,000 vaccinated children develop serious problems due to the vaccines, presumably only a small percentage of those result in death. That does sound pretty safe. But shouldn’t that be up to each individual how safe it actually is?
Let’s use a variation on Donald Trump’s bowl of Skittles example. Let’s say we have a giant bowl of 100,000 Skittles. We know that 3 of those skittles are tainted and will either serious injure or kill whoever eats one. If I force 100,000 people to eat one skittle and one person dies and two become paralyzed, I am now responsible for those injuries and deaths. It is murder. I knew I would kill someone, I just didn’t know who. It is forced Russian roulette. However, if I was to explain the risks to the 100,000 people and give them the option to eat one if they’d like and they choose to do so, the responsibility is now on the individual who chose to eat the Skittle.
Just about every day we risk our lives. Every time we get behind the wheel of the car and drive to work there is a chance we’ll die. We cannot eliminate all risk, but we should be able to choose what risks we want to take. Some people avoid driving on highways because of the perceived danger while others enjoy wingsuit base jumping, but no one should be forced to do either. Even if vaccines are 99.997% safe, my risk tolerance should determine whether I want to expose my children to that risk. Remember, whenever you hear something is for the greater good it means someone will likely die and the person doing the killing wants to be able to sleep at night.