Maybe there shouldn’t be a religious exemption to vaccinations.

I’ve written on vaccination before, and, no surprise, raised no small amount of ire each time. Recently, I’ve been wondering about the “religious exemption” that many parents abuse in order to excuse their kids from vaccines. Aside from the casual abuse of the idea of religious freedom (here expanded to “something I don’t believe in”), avoiding vaccinations means essentially drafting off of those who have them. Why doesn’t your unvaccinated kid get measles, mumps, rubella, diptheria, pertussis, or polio? Because those diseases have been largely eradicated through vaccination.

But that’s not the same as the disease being gone altogether. I can tell you that the polio virus is a plane ride away. Measles and pertussis are even closer than that.

I’m only kind of jesting when I say that those who vehemently oppose vaccines ought to test their convictions by spending a few weeks with their kids in a remote village in, oh, Rwanda, where polio, measles, rubella, typhoid, meningitis, and yellow fever — all vaccine-preventable — are still endemic.

As I wrote in a recent post at Religion News Service,

Someone may object that the government has no right to tell anyone to get an injection at all. To which I can only say, if that’s the kind of society you’d like to have, you can certainly find places in this world that will accommodate you, such as the country in which I currently live. The only problem? Without the herd immunity afforded you by living in a population that’s mostly vaccinated, you’d be at significant risk for contracting measles, typhoid, polio, yellow fever and other diseases largely conquered in the US…thanks, in no small part, to vaccines.

That might be the truer test of faith and convictions.

{see also my friend Ellen’s piece on the “fetal cell” objection to vaccinations}

One thought on “Maybe there shouldn’t be a religious exemption to vaccinations.

  1. Both of my mom’s parents contracted polio and never fully recovered. In fact, her mother became an invalid and her father had to stop practicing medicine. These were common results from a disease that ravaged some communities. I am glad my children were vaccinated at a young age, just as my wife and I were.

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