The anti-vaccination movement is a relatively new, largely US phenomenon. It has been roundly criticised in medical circles. However, it stems from a desire (albeit perhaps misguided) of parents to do what’s best for their children.
The anti-vaccination movement has snowballed from one, now totally discredited, paper into an internet full of half-truths and outright lies.
Don’t get me wrong, the internet is a largely immensely positive thing. However, giving people the opportunity to “research” subjects they know nothing about by consulting sources who have no need to be unbiased is not liberating. It is the exact opposite!
So what strategies are OK to use to persuade parents that vaccines are not only safe (relatively) but essential, rather than a tool of state control?
The argument that, without widespread vaccination, herd immunity cannot protect the few who cannot be vaccinated has been used. The counter argument is that parents see this as putting their child at risk to protect the greater good – as Mr Spock once said “the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, or the one.”
Even the argument that the main beneficiary of vaccination is the child themselves can be disputed as a biased statement produced by corrupt medical big business.
So is it time for a hard line approach?
Several have already been tried, from refusing access to schools, to removal of state benefit payments. However, parents who decide not to vaccinate are often relatively well off so these don’t always carry the bite they may otherwise do.
Many organisations are keen to support patents’ right to ethical and religious freedom against such draconian measures. Unsurprisingly, many lawyers are also keen to help uphold choice, for the right price. This does not mean the anti-vaccination movement is winning.
Some physicians in the US are even withholding healthcare provision unless a child is properly vaccinated.
Unfortunately, all of these measures seem to have one principle victim – the child themselves. The poor kid is already far more likely to get a potentially fatal, preventable diseases, now they won’t get proper schooling or medical care.
You’ll never forget the look of shock and betrayal that your tiny, innocent and trusting child gives you after the doctor jabs them with a needle for the first time – but I’d argue, it’s just part of growing up (yours not theirs).
Ashley devotes most of his time to Whitehall Training. As one of the longest standing members of the team he has overseen the development of our Health and Social Care department. In his free time Ashley likes to listen to music, especially his favourite group: Orbital.