Vaccine Resisters come in many flavors — myself being one of them, having modified the vaccine schedules for my children. Other vaccine resisters may totally object to all vaccines — a position I do not support. Nonetheless, pro-vaccine people should know that vaccine resisters have and continue to fulfill an ironically desirable social function.
Vaccines are incredibly beneficial:
Don’t get me wrong, I am a medical provider and have had my own kids vaccinated (albeit on a schedule of my choosing). But the wonderful safety and effectiveness of our vaccine system is partial due to resistance of some parents to routine, mandated vaccines.
Pharmaceutical companies are a great boon but must have checks:
Companies have produced wonderful improvement in both the variety and the quality of vaccines over the years. But it must always be remembered, that pharmaceuticals only have our best in mind as long as “our best” entails our purchase of their products and thus (like all companies) in this sense, they are not to be trusted. This is the source of the adage “Consumer Beware”. Like food, transportation equipment, structural equipment and even some toys since drugs can have deathly consequences, so as consumers we need to be extra careful. Though these companies also are a huge benefit to our country, to safe guard from their dark side, our society has evolved several checks. I feel that consumers are part of the check system. I do not want just the government to act as a check. Consumers must always be the most important check. And I feel that a subgroup of consumers, the vaccine resistors, are part of that natural check system which have benefited us in ways unrecognized. Many of the safety checks in our present system exist exactly to appease the errors pointed by earlier resistors. And though they point to false errors, they have been right several times. But more than that, their hesitations, accurate or not, keep both the government and the drug companies more diligent.
Vaccines are not harmless:
Vaccines are incredibly helpful to the health of our society but they are not without harm. I will not go into the history of vaccines that have been pulled and changes to vaccines which once harmed. But if you think they are harmless, visit this government site: National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program to see how from 1989 to 2009, even after many unfounded cases where thrown out, many were considered valid enough to receive > $1.7 billion in compensations for vaccine injuries.
Keep Vaccines Voluntary:
To maintain the consumer check on vaccines, I vote to keep vaccines voluntary. Yes, the voluntary nature will have its drawbacks including potential of some parents harming their children. This is where the argument gets very controversial. But I think the drawbacks of a voluntary system outweighs the down side of a mandatory system — just my opinion. And even though there are weird folks out there, there are still lots of people who raise good questions about vaccines that are important to raise. And in addressing these over the years, our system has grown stronger.
Some of the questions we need to keep asking:
1) Which vaccines?
Vaccines were first developed for high morbidity, high mortality illnesses — that is, illnesses that kill or cause great suffering or permanent damage. But it is possible to also create vaccines for illnesses that are only a nuisance. Just because a drug company creates a vaccine, do we really need to use it. If vaccines are mandatory, people will not be able to choose. If a drug company creates a vaccine and knows they can make a huge profit by lobbying the government to enforce the mandatory distribution of their product, we loose essential freedoms. Fine, let people experiment with it who desire. But don’t make it mandatory. If vaccines are made mandatory, then if a drug company creates a vaccines for a low-morbidity, non-lethal illness, they or the government could still just add it to the list of “mandatory” vaccines.
2) Unknown Ecological Effect:
We still don’t understand much of the complexities of immunity and our own bacterial/fungal/viral ecosystem. Many organisms live on us in small numbers and in relations to other organisms. We have already shown that if you cut down on strept organisms, staph organisms prosper. As with any ecosystem, we should tamper slowly. Allowing voluntary use of vaccines will allow people to discover these relationships while maintaining freedom.
3) Vaccine Schedule:
All kids don’t need the same schedule for vaccinating. We are not all at risk in the same way. The vaccine schedules are made to be most convenient for the providers and to be sure more vulnerable populations are protected. But again, the schedule should be voluntary too.
Though I think I have put forward a fairly level-headed middle-ground position on vaccines, only 1/3 of readers seem to agree with me my position of voluntary vaccines — see the poll below: