Vaccinations are one of the greatest achievements in all of human history when it comes to societal health and well-being, but increasing numbers of families are opting out of supposedly ‘mandatory’ vaccinations for their children. This of course raises dilemmas about the appropriate balance between individual liberty and social responsibility.
In a recent article, Dr. Paul Offit, chief of infectious diseases and head of the vaccine institute at Children’s Hospital in Philadelphia, states:
We’ve already dropped below the level of vaccine coverage where herd immunity exists for some diseases. At some point, we’re going to be forced to decide whether it is an inalienable right to catch and transmit potentially fatal infections.
There are times when individuals’ philosophical or religious beliefs must give way to the common good. I think that mandatory vaccinations are one of those situations. I feel sorry for the unfortunate principal or superintendent that has to admit unvaccinated kids to school, hoping that the free ride those students get because everyone else is vaccinated is enough to prevent an outbreak of a disease that should be all but eliminated.