Reason Debate: Should Vaccines Be Mandatory?

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Few issues divide libertarians so emphatically as government-mandated vaccinations against communicable diseases, as Reason discovered after including anti-vaccine activist Jenny McCarthy in our "45 Enemies of Freedom" list (August/September 2013). That selection brought forth a deluge of mail, such as this succinct riposte from reader Christopher Kent: "Freedom doesn't get much more personal than the right of individuals to choose what is put into their bodies, and to accept or reject medical procedures." But what happens when one person's individual choice leads to the otherwise preventable infection of another person who chooses differently?

So what is the proper role for government, and the citizenry, in the vaccination of children? The lines are hard to draw; all the more reason to have a Reason debate. To that end, Ronald Bailey, Jeffrey Singer, and Sandy Reider take the scalpel to each others' arguments, in the hope of bringing more practical and philosophical clarity to a divisive topic.

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