Right now we are in the midst of a national feud about whether the government should mandate vaccinations for both adults and children. The main issue appears on the surface to be about whether vaccinations are safe, or whether in some cases they are harmful.
But there is a deeper issue that is much more important: Who should make medical decisions for you and your children? The government? Or you as individuals and parents?
The precedent we are setting should chill you to your bones. Here’s why…
This is Not About Vaccination at All
Which of the following actions is more reasonable to you:
1. Educating the populace about the scientific facts, then using government force and legal coercion to mandate what adults must choose for themselves and their children?
2. Educating the populace about the scientific facts, then letting adults make choices for themselves and their children?
This question highlights the growing divide between those who generally trust the government and those who often distrust it.
This division has become a fissure in our nation that crosses political party lines as a well as all ethnic and economic demographics.
Through most of the twentieth century, an average of 78% of Americans trusted the government, while today only 23% of Americans believe the government will do the right thing most of the time.
That’s a huge shift!
It shows up in numerous important issues across the country (in the name of the “greater good” or “protecting children”), including:
- Enabling “food freedom” so people can produce, sell, or consume raw milk, heritage-breed grass-fed meat, homemade pies or lemonade from a neighborhood stand vs. banning these local foods due to fear of food poisoning or unregulated production practices;
- Permitting food gardening in one’s private front yard vs. city agencies destroying front yard gardens as eyesores and pest attractors;
- Demanding GMO labeling on foods so consumers can make a choice vs. refusing to label because current science says GMOs are “substantially equivalent” to non-GMO foods and perfectly safe;
- Using security forces and child protective services to force mothers and children into hospital births, Cesarean sections, chemotherapy, ADHD drugs, Hepatitis B shots or antibiotic ointment on the eyes vs. honoring parental rights to informed consent to birth at home, use natural medicine, or refuse such procedures;
- Allowing children to be “free range” and walk themselves to school, ride their bike alone, or play unsupervised at the park vs. charging parents with neglect for leaving them unsupervised at any time, out of fear of predators;
- Giving police carte blanche to use deadly force as they see fit vs. community vigilance about any use of force by the police to ensure that it was truly justified;
- Campaign contributions from corporations as free speech (Citizen’s United); homeschooling vs. compulsory education; Common Core curricula; broad surveillance of citizens in the name of homeland security (Patriot Act), and more…
Never before have we lived in an age where we are so angrily divided and openly mistrustful of government, corporations and our fellow citizens.
At one extreme we seem to be headed toward a paternalistic or even tyrannical nanny-state, but on the other extreme we could have unbridled libertarianism running roughshod on both the public good and the planet. (And at either extreme, we end up with corporatocracy.)
So, how do we balance individual rights vs. the “greater good”?
A System for Protecting Our Freedom
Those who support mandatory vaccination laws usually cite public health statistics as justification for their stance, while medical freedom advocates point to examples of where specific children were harmed.
The people who are thinking in terms of the mass population naturally overlook the specific, individual cases of harm (“they’re just anecdotal”). Meanwhile many concerned parents logically ignore the statistics (“my daughter isn’t a number”) and focus on the potential danger if their child just happens to be one of those who is harmed.
Both views have merit. Both are reasonable. Both make sense.
To whom are we going to give the final say? And how do we balance individual rights with the greater good?
According to political scholar and author Oliver DeMille, “the answer should depend on what level of society is best equipped to deal with each specific situation.”
Level A – If it’s a question about nuclear attack or foreign invasion, or other threats to national security, the federal government was designed to deal with it.
Level B – If it’s a question of crime or direct danger to everyone, it’s a state or provincial issue.
Level C – If anything in level B can be handled more effectively at a local level, it should be.
Level D – If it’s about what’s best for an individual’s education, prosperity, or health, let the individual choose. This is the essence of freedom. If it’s about children, let’s trust the parents.”
In fact, states DeMille, “This system of doing things at the right level, and only at the right level, is the key to maintaining freedom and applying wisdom on nearly every issue.”
- Consuming raw milk, heritage pork, or prepared food items from small farms and cottage businesses? Level D.
- Police using deadly force? Level B.
- Oversight of any use of deadly force? Levels A-D.
- GMO labeling out of the right-to-know and the precautionary principle? Levels A-C.
- Use of private property to grow food gardens? Level D.
- “Free range” children? Level D.
- Homebirth and other medical procedures and medications? Level D.
- Campaign contributions? Levels A-D.
Using these criteria is essential to living in a free society. Without such standards, our freedom is quickly lost.
Fear Does Not Justify Taking Away Civil Rights
Let’s apply the above criteria to the current calls for mandatory vaccination.
Does the recent measles outbreak meet the “danger to everyone” critieria in level B or C above?
I know an unfamiliar disease can be scary and bring out our worst survival-based fears. There are as many horror stories of grandparents ending up in wheelchairs from polio as there are of kids with permanent brain damage and seizure disorders from vaccine injury. And these stories on both sides are awful, tragic and compelling.
But fewer than 200 measles cases and no deaths in a population of 320,000,000 people (40,000,000 people in California alone) does NOT constitute a danger to everyone, or even a credible potential threat to the public that warrants taking away peoples’ Constitutional rights.
To believe such is irrational, paranoid thinking.
Of course, if ebola or smallpox were the issue, level B would be required because these diseases truly are virulent, always lethal without treatment, and clearly a “direct danger to everyone.” Such an outbreak may even need level A, depending on the circumstances. But measles is nowhere near level A or B.
Not even close.
However, the irrational fear gripping this country over a disease in which no one has died (and would not even make the top 100 diseases currently affecting Americans), is being used as a justification to expand government intrusion into our private lives, suspend basic human and civil rights, and grant broad new police powers.
This is what we really should fear.
The Math Doesn’t Add Up to Mandates
Prior to the introduction of the vaccine, 3-4 million cases of measles occurred in the United States each year. Of those 3-4 million cases, only about 450-500 people died each year, according to the CDC public record. Doing basic math, that makes the percentage of people who died from measles of all of the measles cases back then a mere 0.015%.
Also, consider that in 1963, the population was 189,241,798. That means that prior to the vaccine, the percentage of the entire U.S. population that died from measles was .000237%. This means that before the vaccine was even available, you had a greater risk of committing suicide than you did of dying of measles.
Even with 3-4 million Americans catching measles in 1963, and 16,400 cases during a resurgence between 1989–1991 (which led to giving two doses of MMR), philosophical and religious exemptions were available, even if they were kept an “open secret” to discourage people from using them. While every death is tragic, even at the height of measles infection, it wasn’t the kind of public health emergency that required a one-size-fits-all medical mandate from the government.
Yet, despite 2014 vaccination rates of 93%—the highest in history—bills to remove conscientious and religious exemptions to any vaccination on the CDC schedule required today or determined necessary in the future are pending in California, Illinois, Maryland, Maine, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Texas (including California Senate Bill 277 which would mandate vaccination for all public, private and homeschooled students on penalty of truancy charges).
But the media would have us all believe that one tiny school in California with most of the kids in the kindergarten class unvaccinated—a total of 13 children—will determine fate of a state with almost 40 million people. This is of course ridiculous.
Exempt does not mean unvaccinated.
2.54% of school age children filed Personal Belief Exemptions in 2014. This number has decreased from the previous year. Only a small fraction within those 2.54% are actually unvaccinated because missing even one shot requires you to take a personal belief exemption. (Click to enlarge image.)
It would seem that we’ve put paranoia ahead of freedom and reason.
Medical exemptions in states that pass these laws will largely be determined not by doctors who know their patients, but by CDC criteria, and will be nearly impossible to get. This one-size-fits-all medical policy will greatly compromise effective doctor-patient relationships.
It is difficult to conceive of a pubic health crisis that would warrant granting the government the power to inject any substance into human beings without their consent. But in the event of such a crisis, that power should be limited and concise and the substance injected should be beyond reproach as safe and effective.
Let’s Play Devil’s Advocate
If the fear of communicable infection justifies mandatory vaccine laws, then why do we not first force the approximately 85% of adults who are essentially unvaccinated to get their shots (including flu) or lose their jobs?
According to the National Vaccine Program (NVP), current pertussis vaccination rates are between 8.7% of Hispanic adults to a high of 16.1% for white adults. And despite the fact that children are not at risk for hepatitis B infection (a primarily sexually transmitted disease), most infants are vaccinated against the disease while the adult vaccination rate for hepatitis B is around 12%.
“While there is a perception that there are a large number of unvaccinated children in the United States, the NVP points out that childhood vaccination rates exceed 90% but that American adults ‘continue to be vaccinated at low and variable rates.'”
The majority of those infected in this latest outbreak of measles are adults. According to the numbers from California, of the confirmed measles cases in the state, 62 percent are adults over age 20. Indeed, almost all outbreaks of measles, mumps or pertussis in recent history have primarily effected vaccinated adults in highly vaccinated populations.
This means “herd immunity” for many diseases has been compromised by adults for decades. (And yet there have been no epidemics. Hmmmm.)
Since childhood vaccination rates are the highest they’ve ever been in history, but so few adults are vaccinated or up to date on boosters, if there is any problem at all, doesn’t it lie with adults?
Where is the outrage?
And if it is to be the law that everyone must be vaccinated according to the CDC schedule (even for diseases that are not readily contagious, like tetanus and hepatitis B), then why shouldn’t police officers be empowered to physically force resisters to receive a vaccine, at gunpoint or threat of imprisonment, like they did in Prince George’s county, Maryland or are currently doing in Pakistan?
Do we really want Pakistan to be our role model?
And if we are indeed so worried about the most vulnerable among us, why shouldn’t we mandate criminal penalties and quarantine for people who go out in public with tuberculosis, norovirus, flu, strep throat, staph and other infectious illnesses that could be lethal to babies, elders or the immunocompromised?
However, these children and adults are not banned from attending school, receiving medical care, being employed, raising their children, or otherwise participating fully in society. In fact, people with HIV and AIDS are protected by law against discrimination.
Yet, after a tiny measles outbreak which has killed no one, suddenly people are being pressured to abandon their Constitutional right to make informed, voluntary medical decisions about their own bodies.
Even worse, people are encouraging discrimination and extreme social sanctions against the very tiny number of parents who have vaccine-injured children, choose to not vaccinate, delay the CDC schedule, or simply opt out of a few shots (like Hepatitis B)*, while completely ignoring the incredibly high rate of unvaccinated adults.
*(If you miss or opt out of even one shot—like hepatitis B or tetanus—you are considered a vaccine exemption. This means that you will be counted as “unvaccinated”, even if you’ve had most of your shots. How’s that for skewing statistics to create panic?)
Let’s make sure we are actually addressing a real threat before we start taking away civil rights, putting people at any risk of medical injury (no matter how small), and giving the government power to mandate medical procedures at will.
A Very Scary Precedent – Why Vaccine Mandates are Dangerous
In the words of Dr. Lee Hieb, MD,
“If you think the government has the right to forcibly vaccinate people—for the good of society—what is to prevent them from forcibly sterilizing people, or forcibly euthanizing people, or forcibly implanting a tracking device—for the good of society?”
These examples may seem extreme, but they are no different in principle from the proposal that government force people to be vaccinated. In fact, two out of three have already happened…
A terrifying case-in-point:
In 1923, U.S. Supreme Court justice Oliver Wendall Holmes gave the green light to the state of Virginia to forcibly sterilize Carrie Buck, because doctors judged her to be mentally retarded. To justify his decision, justice Holmes cited a 1905 law requiring smallpox vaccination, and coldly proclaimed:
“The principle that sustains compulsory vaccination is broad enough to cover cutting the fallopian tubes.”
The Buck decision set the precedent for more than 60,000 forced sterilization operations in the United States and was cited at the Nuremberg trials in defense of Nazi sterilization experiments. It has never been overturned.
In the 21st century, this precedent has justified coerced sterilization, medical kidnapping, forced Cesearean sections, calling CPS on parents who choose to use natural medicine, arresting people for buying and selling raw milk, even kicking a little boy out of school for growing his hair long to donate to cancer patients!
By allowing vaccine mandates and other violations of your freedom of choice, you are allowing government to have ultimate authority over your body, in direct violation of your civil and human rights.
This. must. stop.
Fear or Freedom?
Fear of potential harm is never a justification for revoking the right to medical freedom and autonomy over one’s body.
We don’t preemptively arrest people because we fear they might perpetrate a crime one day. And similarly, we must not force or legally coerce people into medically risky or philosophically abhorrent procedures because we are irrationally afraid of the extremely improbable chance of a worst-case scenario (like a polio epidemic).
The bedrock of a free society is to leave decisions of lifestyle, education, prosperity and health (and their consequences) to consenting adults, until such time there might be a credible danger to everyone—and then to intervene minimally. To do otherwise is a slippery slope that opens the door to a paternalistic nanny-state at best, and fascism and medical tyranny at worst.
And given there is no credible threat to the general welfare happening, the argument that everyone must vaccinate their children for the good of the community is not only logically false and legally questionable, it is immoral and unethical. It is the argument all dictators and totalitarians have used. (“You must have only one child for the good of the community, Comrade.”)
If Americans don’t stand up against this, then we are lost.
Allowing the government to mandate any inherently risky medical procedure is condoning yet one more government intrusion into determining how we give birth and raise our children, what medications we must take for various conditions, what kinds of food we are allowed to eat, and more.
This is not the country I want to live in. Do you?
In the words of the Pacific Justice Institute:
“The rights of conscience, bodily integrity and self-determination are of the utmost importance and must not be eliminated on a broad basis for the asserted need to address a temporary and limited health scare… The negative effects of this heavy-handed overreaction will linger long after the short-lived and over-hyped outbreaks that supposedly necessitate it.”
Whether you choose to vaccinate or not is irrelevant: Medical freedom is relevant to everyone who wishes to make their own decisions about their health.
I encourage you to stand for the freedom this country was built upon by contacting your local and national representatives and vocalizing your opposition to any bills in your state that take away your rights to informed consent and freedom of choice.
Prominent immunologist against forced vaccination