To Vaccinate or Not to Vaccinate

4 June 2015


Last week, an e-mail popped into our in box calling for voters in California and Vermont to campaign against state laws that will limit the allowable

exemptions from mandatory vaccinations.  Sent by an

organizations called Citizens for Health, the appeal cites

“bodily integrity and personal and domestic sovereignty”,

alluding to some vague potential loss of liberty and

founding constitutional principles.


Notably absent from this appeal is any mention of the responsibilities that necessarily accompany freedom.  What Citizens for Health considers “the essence of American liberty” – the right to refuse an immunization – inherently includes the ability to pose risk to others.  Refusing a vaccination places you at risk for contracting the particular disease.  Once infected, you become a vector for transmission.  You are now a danger to infants, transplant recipients, cancer patients, those living with HIV/AIDS, the elderly, and others with weakened or compromised immune systems.  While you may have the right to place yourself at risk, that right does not extend to posing danger to others.


There is a powerful meme on Facebook that asks “Remember that time you got polio?  Of course not, because your parents had you vaccinated.”  There is no arguing with that sentiment.  The statistics speak for themselves.  The absence of smallpox in our world is a result of what Citizens for Health term “forced medical treatments.”  Perhaps equally troubling is that this freedom from illness is enjoyed because herd immunity is gained via widespread immunization.  Those demanding the right to refuse vaccination rely on others to provide this protection.  There is something perversely shortsighted and selfish in this.  Guaranteeing others the basic liberty we enjoy is an essential aspect of our freedom.  Concentrated self-interest is not.

Bird flu raises worries after study points to human transmission

As public health officials around the world monitor the status of H7N9 influenza, that strain and others continue their evolution. The very nature of the influenza virus is that it is constantly changing, emerging in a particular host then evolving so it can infect another animal – or human. The danger increases when human-to-human transmission becomes routine.

The flu is communicable before symptoms emerge. Someone who has been exposed can infect others before anyone knows the illness is present. How then, do we prepare for a disease that can be deadly before it is evident? Maintaining health is a first step. Proper diet, rest, and exercise are perennial good advice. Health authorities strive to produce vaccines against the prevalent strains of influenza each year, staying current with immunizations enhances protection. Awareness can keep you healthy, your family safe, and your business vital.

Travel to a region where H7N9– or any other infectious disease – is present or visits from such a region should prompt subsequent monitoring for flu-like symptoms. Signs of sickness should prompt a visit to a physician.

Knowing how and when to avoid exposure, and what to do if it occurs, can be life-saving.


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