Instapundit, pretty much. Glenn Reynolds is a terrific writer: eloquent, witty, pared down to the word. If you get all of your news from his site, trust me: you’re getting all the news.
Why would parents refuse to vaccinate their children against dangerous diseases? Many are skeptical of modern science and medicine in general. (And it is true that most vaccines carry exceedingly tiny–but real–risks of serious illness or even death.) But I think most are responding to the widespread belief that vaccines are linked to autism.
Recent studies have soundly disspelled that notion. And a simple glance at health statistics shows that autism cases continued to rise even after thimerosal, the mercury-based preservative widely blamed for the supposed autism link, was largely phased out of U.S. vaccines by 2001.
Nevertheless, these unsubstantiated fears have led some people to say that getting vaccinated should be a matter of individual choice: If you want to be protected, just get yourself and your children vaccinated.
Only it’s not that easy. While the measles vaccine protects virtually everyone who is inoculated, not all vaccines have the same rate of success. But even if a vaccine is effective for only 70, 80 or 90 percent of those who take it, the other 30, 20 or 10 percent who don’t get the full benefit of the vaccine are usually still not at risk. That’s because most of the people around the partially protected are immune, so the disease can’t sustain transmission long enough to spread.
But when people decide to forgo vaccination, they threaten the entire system. They increase their own risk and the risk of those in the community, including babies too young to be vaccinated and people with immune systems impaired by disease or chemotherapy. They are also free-riding on the willingness of others to get vaccinated, which makes a decision to avoid vaccines out of fear or personal belief a lot safer.
Being afraid of vaccinations is junk science. Superstition. Silly, like not believing in dinosaurs. And yet people who don’t believe in dinosaurs are routinely mocked, while people who believe vaccination nonsense are featured on CNN.
KLAVAN > Babies Turn Sour on Obama
EPSTEIN > Is Big Pharma Violating Antitrust Law?
HEMINGWAY > When Objectivism and Parenting Collide
More from Rob Long