Do We Owe it to Our Neighbors to Vaccinate Our Kids?
(The face of a boy after three days with measles rash: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
A measles outbreak traced to Disneyland has sparked a new wave of outrage toward parents who choose not to vaccinate their children. While 95% of the national US population has been vaccinated against the measles (see this from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), certain communities dip below the 90% range, which CDCP considers to be acceptable "herd immunity" for a population to maintain.
Reasons vary as to why parents opt out of vaccinations. "People say there's only two camps, the pro-vaccination camp and the anti-vaccination camp, and anyone who's anti-vaccination isn't that smart," says Meghan Van Vleet, a former naturopath and a parent of two in Boulder. "But there’s not two camps; there’s like 50 camps."
Christian author and professor, Denny Burk, turns the question of vaccination into a moral one for Christians, asking pointedly: “Do we owe it to our neighbors to vaccinate our kids?” Burk highlights the following quote from a Washington Post article by Michael Gerson:
“Whether hipsters or home-schoolers, parents who don’t vaccinate are free riders.
Their children benefit from herd immunity without assuming the very small risk of adverse reaction to vaccination. It is a game that works — until too many play it.”
Your turn: Are non-vaccinating parents “free riders?” Are Christian parents who withhold vaccinating their children endangering public safety? If so, is that crossing a moral line? Weigh in with your thoughts in the comments below.