- Conscientious Refusers--people who reject all vaccination, like conscientious objectors in wartime reject all fighting. They usually have religious reasons.
- Critical Refusers--people critical of mainstream science and medicine. They will go on thinking vaccines cause autism (for example) no matter how many studies show otherwise.
- Doing/allowing Refusers--they see a problem with doing something that stands a chance of causing serious side effects, but see no problem with allowing a child to be infected with a vaccine-preventable disease. Unlike those in group 1, they would accept a vaccine with no associated risks.
- You-first Refusers--people who think enough other people are vaccinating their children so that they don't have to. In the early days of a vaccine, when herd immunity doesn't exist yet, they will vaccinate their children. In the late days, when they think herd immunity protects their children sufficiently, they opt out.
But who thinks like a You-first refuser? Aren't real world vaccine refusers all in groups 1 and 2? In fact, a popular author outright welcomes his readers to be You-first refusers. Here's a delicious/horrifying passage from The Vaccine Book, by Robert Sears, MD.
Back to work....
Getting vaccinated is a public health measure, not a private decision. Not getting vaccinated is like smoking in a crowded restaurant. Better still, it's like avoiding compulsory military service during a just war. It's obviously healthier not to serve in the army, even in a just war, but as part of a community which you benefit from, you have an obligation as a citizen to serve.
The conscientious refusers are a lot like conscientious objectors in wartime. Which has made me wonder what I think of conscientious objectors. I used to think it was good for pacifists to be exempted from military service, but is that like Church of Science members being exempted from vaccination? If the latter is wrong or unfair, how can exemptions for pacifists not be wrong or unfair? I am in the process of thinking about these things, and have no answers! The smoking analogy is helpful!
If I recall correctly back from my days trying to avoid military service in Viet Nam, not a just war in my opinion, there were two categories of conscientious objectors.
1. People who served in the military but did not use arms. They could, for example, be medics or do desk work.
2. People who did not serve in the military but had to do equivalent community service, for example, in a hospital.
Which category one fell in depended on the basis of one's pacifism to be decided by the draft authorities.
Category 1 is obviously not free-riding, since medics risk their lives and since in a contemporary army in any case, the majority of soldiers never enter combat.
I don't think that category 2 is free-riding either since the person doing hospital work is contributing something to the community which is equivalent to military service, even if they are not risking their lives. In any case, they will dedicate themselves for the same amount of years as military service to community work.
Now I don't see what church members who refuse to be vaccinated are contributing on an equivalence basis.
By the way, if we think of a family as a unit, just as the person who avoids military service during a just war is considered a coward, the family that refuses to have their child vaccinated, fully aware that vaccines work, but trying to avoid a minimal risk for their child, is also cowardly.
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