I’m extremely pro-vaccination. I make no secret of that and no apologies for that. I’m also a believer in parenting as one chooses. But right now, I’m in a quandary. My pro-vaccination stance and my belief in parenting rights are at odds.
Because so many are exercising their parenting rights to keep their children in a way that I consider to be risky due to my pro-vaccination stance, I’m forced to wonder where your parenting rights end and mine begin. The old saying is that “your rights end where his nose begins.” Does that mean your parenting rights end where mine begin?
Measles and whooping cough have made a come back. Each time an area has an outbreak, it’s linked to an un-vaccinated person. A friend of mine lives in the New York City area. Her child is too young to receive the MMR vaccine. She’s been known to stay home with her child rather than take him on public transit (since she’s one of those non-car having New Yorkers) because she feels the dangers are too high before the outbreak is contained. There’s more than one tragic tale of a baby dying from whooping cough because he got it from someone else who was not vaccinated.
To put it in context: If you put 100 vulnerable people in a room with someone (just ONE person) infected with measles, 90 of them will contract the illness.1 In contrast, the average flu carrier infects 1 to 3 people.2 That’s a big, big difference.
I can’t help but think about parenting rights. I’m not comfortable with the concept of forced vaccination. It’s interfering with one’s parenting philosophies… and possibly religious beliefs or health issues. After all, it seems like whenever something truly becomes “mandatory,” there aren’t enough exceptions made for those who can’t meet the criteria.
But… what about that person whose child dies from another parent’s right not to vaccinate? Does that mean that the parent who did not vax is morally culpable for the death of another child? Should that parent be legally culpable and charged with depraved indifference homicide? Should the parent who lost their child be able to sue the parent who did not vaccinate in civil court if they or their children are found to be “ground zero” for the community’s outbreak?
Where do your parenting rights and not vaccinating end and my rights to keep my children (who, theoretically, could not be vaccinated either due to age or health issues) alive from vaccine-preventable illness begin?
1.) Offit, Paul A., and Charlotte A. Moser. Vaccines & Your Child: Separating Fact from Fiction. New York: Columbia UP, 2011. 166. Print.
2.) Maki, Allan. “Measles in Canada: Why This Infectious Disease Is Spreading Add to …” The Globe and Mail. N.p., 7 Apr. 2014. Web. 11 Apr. 2014. <http://www.theglobeandmail.com/life/health-and-fitness/health/measles-in-canada-why-this-infectious-diseases-is-spreading/article17866080/?page=all>.
Image by posterize / freedigitalphotos.net
Note: I recognize that this post will be controversial. It’s fine to disagree, but debate must be civil. I reserve the right to remove comments that are not.