Dr. Bob Sears, pediatrician, offers his point of view. And Erwin Chemerinsky, Dean of the UC Irvine School of Law advocates mandatory vaccination.
Mandatory vaccination is not the answer to measles
Measles. It used to be just a disease. Now it’s become a banner under which politicians gather to threaten one of our most sacred rights - the right to give informed consent for medical treatment.
Whether you are for vaccines, against them, or neutral, allow me to ask this question: Is vaccination a medical treatment which should fall under the protection of informed consent, or does the government have the right to force them on every American?
As a pediatrician, I give patients the MMR vaccine almost every day in my office. And I follow the guidelines of the Centers for Disease Control which mandate that I provide informed consent. The American Medical Association describes informed consent as a patient’s right of self-decision and a basic policy in both ethics and law that physicians must honor.
If vaccines were harmless to every single person who received them, then I could understand putting this decision in the hands of our elected officials. But here are two salient facts:
• About 2,000 severe reactions are reported to the CDC each year which result in prolonged hospitalization, permanent disability, or death. Most reactions aren’t even reported, so the true number may be even higher. Yet, because they can’t be proven, the medical community denies that they can happen.
• Over $3 billion have been paid out to victims of vaccine reactions. Not $3 million. Not $30 million. Not even $300 million. But $3 billion. Are we paying that much money to victims of pretend reactions? I think not.
You might think it’s the actual measles outbreak that is responsible for the current political hysteria. But it is not. Instead, it is a carefully crafted opportunistic attempt to overstate what measles could potentially do to our nation. It is what politicians, some media outlets, and some in the medical community are trying to portray measles to be. But let’s look at the actual facts of the current outbreak:
• As of Feb. 17, there are 141 cases nationwide. Not thousands. According to the Orange County Public Health Department, no new cases have been reported in the OC since Feb. 4.
• After the initial surge, it is now moving slowly. It is not spreading like wildfire in an exponential explosion of unprecedented proportion. Read more at Mandatory vaccination is not the answer to measles.
Require All Children To Be Vaccinated
The California Legislature should enact a law requiring all children to be vaccinated, unless there is a medical reason for not doing so. Last week, a group of California state lawmakers introduced legislation to mandate that all children get vaccinated before they enter school and to end the exemption that allows parents to not have their children vaccinated when that conflicts with their beliefs.
As a matter of constitutional law, parents have no right to not vaccinate their children. However, the government has a compelling interest in stopping the spread of communicable diseases. Totally preventable diseases, like measles and whooping cough, are now spreading in the U.S. because of parents who have not vaccinated their children. This endangers those who cannot be vaccinated, such as those born with compromised immune systems and even babies who are too young to be safely vaccinated. A person’s liberty never includes the right to endanger others.
Moreover, parents never have the right to endanger their own children’s health. The government constantly regulates how parents raise their children, with laws requiring that children be in car seats, prohibiting child labor and mandating schooling. There have been countless court cases throughout the country of parents wanting to deny their children needed medical treatment, even life-saving medical care, on religious grounds. The parents always lose in these cases and the courts order that treatment be provided to the children so that they can reach adulthood and decide for themselves. Not vaccinating children puts them at risk of preventable infectious diseases. No parent has the right to harm his or her children in this way.
Nor is there any remotely plausible medical reason for not vaccinating a child. Parents who have chosen not to vaccinate their children apparently are relying on a fear that vaccinations can lead to autism. This is based on a single article in Lancet, a British medical journal, in 1998. That article, though, was quickly refuted by at least 13 other studies that found no link between vaccinations and autism. Lancet retracted the article in 2010 and the author has since had his medical license revoked. Read the full editorial at OC Register.