health care

Meet the Teens Who Want To Get Vaccinated Against Their Parents' Wishes

What happens when a kid raised by "all-natural" parents wants to make a different choice?

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"My mom is a very stereotypical all-natural person, and she doesn't want chemicals being put into my body," says "Ester," a 16-year-old sophomore who spoke to me from a hiding place in her bedroom closet. "I used to share all those beliefs. But with things like vaccines, you have to look at the evidence—and when I looked at the evidence, I changed my mind. I want to get vaccinated."

Ester, who asked that her real name not be used, isn't alone. In recent months, dozens of teenagers have come forward online and in the media to demand the right to get vaccinated without their parents' permission. Perhaps ironically, they use the same rhetorical appeals to self-ownership as their parents, and they raise interesting challenges to a movement that claims to champion choice. As Stacy Methvin, an activist with Texans for Vaccine Choice, a group that defends people's right not to vaccinate their children, puts it: "We, as humans, have the right to choose what to do with our bodies."

But what happens when a teenager wants to make a different choice?

In 2000, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) declared a triumph: Endemic measles, which had once claimed an estimated 400–500 lives per year and was responsible for thousands more hospitalizations, had been eliminated in the United States. But the celebration was short-lived. In the time since, measles outbreaks in the U.S. have spiked. In 2018, there were 349 reported cases, and the trend seemed poised to continue into this year. Washington state officials declared a public health emergency in January 2019 as the disease began to spread near Oregon, with 74 confirmed cases as of March 22. According to the CDC, 90 percent of reported cases in the United States are linked to people who are unvaccinated or whose vaccination status is unknown.

"Anti-vaxxers" (or "vaccine choice activists," as some prefer to be called), have been around for as long as vaccines themselves. But opposition to vaccines gained momentum in the United States in the '90s, after British doctor Andrew Wakefield released a fraudulent research paper linking the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine to autism. That paper has since been widely debunked, and Wakefield was stripped of his medical license. Nevertheless, the percentage of unvaccinated children in the United States, while still a minority of the overall population, has quadrupled since 2001.

Although hundreds of medical studies have found that vaccines are safe and effective, the anti-vaccination movement is growing worldwide. Its rhetoric often appeals to one of the most cherished human rights: self-ownership and the freedom to exercise choice about what happens to our bodies. This wave of unvaccinated children is entering adolescence in a different era than the one in which their parents made decisions for them as infants—even Disneyland has been the epicenter of an outbreak—and they've started to ask human rights questions of their own: At what point, and in what contexts, should teenagers have the right to make medical decisions for themselves?

There are no federal laws regarding a minor's ability to consent to vaccinations, and state regulations vary. In most places, parental consent remains the legal requirement for adolescent medical care, regardless of the age or maturity of the patient. That means most unvaccinated kids have to wait until they turn 18 to overrule anti-vaxxer parents—but there are exceptions.

In Oregon, for example, anyone 15 or over can consent to immunizations without parental permission. A Montana statute gives consent authority to any teenager who has graduated from high school. In Alaska, minors can give consent for medical care if a parent is unable or "unwilling" to do so. In other states, including Idaho, Illinois, Kansas, Maine, Massachusetts, Illinois, Nevada, Tennessee, Washington, and West Virginia, a relatively new legal concept called the "mature minor doctrine" allows unemancipated minors to petition a court for the right to make medical decisions for themselves, although the specifics of these laws vary and sometimes include requirements regarding age or parental availability. Most states with mature minor doctrines have parallel legislation that absolves parents of any obligation to pay for medical care that occurs without their consent, but that's not an issue in this case: The federally funded Vaccines for Children program provides free immunizations to anyone up to age 19 who would be otherwise unable to pay.

Yet in most states, options for judicial bypass are grim.

"To override parents, you have to meet certain conditions: There has to be a proven intervention that can fix a problem, and there has to be an imminent threat to the health of the child," says Arthur Caplan, the head of the Division of Medical Ethics at the New York University School of Medicine and author of Vaccination Ethics and Policy (MIT Press). "It is very unlikely that, legally, any judge would [authorize] a vaccine just as a preventative, since it [probably wouldn't] meet the standard of preventing imminent death and disability."

Sexual health is a notable exception. While 37 states require parental notification or consent in a minor's decision to end a pregnancy, according to the Guttmacher Institute, the remaining 13 states don't require any parental involvement at all. In other words, it's easier for a teenager to get an abortion than to get the measles vaccine without permission.

On top of that, all 50 states explicitly allow minors to consent to treatment for a sexually transmitted infection (STI)—and while 18 states allow physicians to notify a minor's parents that he or she is seeking STI services, no state requires it. A few states, such as California, even include the word prevention in the laws allowing minors to consent to STI care, so a vaccine for something that's sexually transmissible—human papillomavirus (HPV) or hepatitis B, for example—would be accessible to minors in those places. Adolescent access to mental health and substance abuse care is similarly expansive.

Teenagers who have children of their own represent another legal paradox: In all states, teen parents, like other parents, are presumed to be the appropriate decision makers for their kids, even when they cannot legally direct their own medical care. In other words, it's possible that a teen parent could get vaccines for her children—but not for herself.

The debate between vaccine advocates and vaccine skeptics is heated and often includes violent rhetoric—so much so, in fact, that multiple experts on adolescent health law refused to discuss the issue on the record, even to describe existing policy. Vaccines have been compared to rape, the Oklahoma City bombing, communism, and even the Holocaust. Memes circulate online in which anti-vaxxer parents use images of guns to illustrate how far they'd be willing to go to stop their kids from getting immunized. "Want to forcibly vaccinate my child?" reads one such image, in which a woman points a pistol directly at the camera. "Let's trade shot for shot. I go first." So when teenagers attempt to defy anti-vaxxer parents, emotions can run deep.

Ethan Lindenberger

When Ethan Lindenberger, 18, a high school senior in Ohio, decided to get immunized despite his parents' objections, his mother told the science magazine Undark that the decision was "a slap in the face….It felt like him spitting on me." Another teenager posted on Reddit that his mom would be "livid" if he managed to get vaccines without her permission. It'd be easy to write off situations like this as just the newest display of teenage rebellion—one Twitter user joked that while kids in past decades snuck out of the house to get drunk or high, today's teens sneak out to get vaccinated—but most children who reject anti-vaxxer logic are, in fact, motivated by respect for authority. When Lindenberger showed his mom an article from the CDC explaining that vaccines don't cause autism, she dismissed it with "that's what they want you to think." But he wanted to defer to the experts.

"I was just blown away that, you know, the largest health organization in the entire world would be written off with a kind of conspiracy theory-like statement like that," Lindenberger told NPR.

The debate about whether adolescents can choose vaccines is contentious, but it's not unique in that respect. Teen abortion is a lightning rod, of course, but recent years have raised other controversial questions as well. As the number of children and adolescents seeking support for gender dysphoria has soared, for example, debates have erupted about whether parental permission should be required to access gender-affirming medical care, such as a puberty blockers or hormone replacement therapy. Even questions about a teenager's capacity to reject lifesaving interventions have emerged: In 2007, a Washington superior court judge ruled that 14-year-old Dennis Lindberg, a Jehovah's Witness and a leukemia patient, was mature enough to reject a blood transfusion on religious grounds, despite the objections of his biological parents. "I don't believe Dennis' decision is the result of any coercion," the judge said at a hearing. "He is mature and understands the consequences of his decision." A few hours later, the eighth-grader died.

These conversations often refer to a 1982 study that considered scenarios including diabetes, depression, and epilepsy and found that 14-year-olds "demonstrate a level of competency equivalent to that of adults" when making medical decisions. "The ages of 18 or 21 as the 'cutoffs' below which individuals are presumed to be incompetent to make determinations about their own welfare do not reflect the psychological capacities of most adolescents," the study concluded. In 2011, a Canadian study found similar results: When researchers presented adolescents and adults with information about stimulant treatment for attention deficit disorder, they found that the teens were just as qualified to understand the information and give informed consent as their parents.

In 2016, the American Academy of Pediatrics updated its policy statement on informed consent in pediatric practice. In it, the group acknowledges the critical (and unavoidable) role of parents as surrogate decision makers in early childhood but also points out that the limits of parental authority should be "constrained by respect for the child." It concludes: "Physicians should recognize that some pediatric patients, especially older adolescents and those with medical experience because of chronic illness, may possess adequate capacity, cognitive ability, and judgment to engage effectively in the informed consent or refusal process for proposed goals of care."

Many doctors, such as NYU's Caplan, emphasize that the best solution for kids who want vaccines might also be the simplest: talking to their parents. Some adults are hesitant, "but they're not always dyed-in-the-wool opponents," he says. "I think what we should tell kids who want to do this is: Get in front of the doctor and bring your parents in. You may be able to persuade them."

Stacy Methvin, the activist with Texans for Vaccine Choice, agrees. If her teenage son wanted to get an immunization, Methvin says she'd feel "heartbroken"—but she'd still talk to him about it.

"I'd explain why I have my beliefs, but I'd listen to his opinions too," Methvin says. "If he had done his research and felt very strongly, I'd probably allow him to get [vaccinated]. It would be a difficult situation, but kids have their own opinions. They can be smart and very thoughtful."

For some teenagers, though, that's just not an option.

"My parents are authoritative figures, and their word is law," says 16-year-old Ester. "I tried to talk to my mother, but she wasn't too keen on that. It's weird—she vaccinates our pets but not her children."

Given the lack of other options, Ester admits she'll have to wait until she turns 18. But as outbreaks become more common—and as teenagers escape their closets and start exploring their options—there's always the chance that a few physicians could go rogue.

"Ethically, I think there are older kids—15, 16, 17—who can make a decision about a topic like vaccination," says Caplan. "It raises a question for the doctor: Do they just want to do it without the parents' knowledge and take the risk? Sometimes I think you could make the case that, yeah, that might be the moral thing to do."

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  1. Apparently these children have never seen the movie Serenity, based on Joss Whedon’s libertarianish Firefly television series. The danger of state-mandated vaccination is a central plot point.

    1. Or perhaps they can make the distinction between fiction and research

      1. Now if only they’d treat Marxism as the fiction it is.

      2. “Vaccines are safe/unsafe” is as nonsensical as “GMOs are safe/unsafe”.

        Each vaccine is different. Common vaccines are fairly safe and beneficial, others are not. Everybody should have the right to make their own cost/benefit analysis.

        1. “Vaccines are safe/unsafe” is as nonsensical as “GMOs are safe/unsafe”.
          Correct.
          Not quite:
          Certain vaccines can be unsafe for certain people.
          GMOs have never harmed anyone.

          1. GMOs have never harmed anyone.

            If a farmer falls into a grain bin of GMO soy and gets asphyxiated, does that count?

            1. Would he have survived if it was non GMO soy?

              1. Not sure. I do know if it were organic soy, the fall would be much more likely to kill him.

            2. “If a farmer falls into a grain bin of GMO soy and gets asphyxiated, does that count?”
              No.

          2. Certain vaccines can be unsafe for certain people.

            Many vaccines are so intrinsically unsafe, they don’t even get approved in the US at all. Others are approved only for military use.

            In addition to the intrinsic safety/risk from vaccines, there is also the question whether it is manufactured and stored correctly, contaminated by the provider, and administered correctly. All of those are additional risks.

            Widely used FDA-approved vaccines right now seem to be mostly safe for most people; but the FDA has screwed up big time on drugs in the past, and the only reason they haven’t done so on vaccines so far is because there haven’t been that many vaccines approved for general use in the first place.

            GMOs have never harmed anyone.

            Some GMOs are engineered for biological warfare; they don’t just harm people, they kill people, and quite reliably.

            1. “GMOs have never harmed anyone.

              Some GMOs are engineered for biological warfare; they don’t just harm people, they kill people, and quite reliably.”

              Do you specialize in pedantry, are you incapable of understanding the intent?

              1. Do you specialize in pedantry, are you incapable of understanding the intent?

                I was simply trying to give an example that even a blockhead like you would understand. Obviously, I underestimated your stupidity.

                As I was saying: any statement about the safety of GMOs is nonsensical, because organisms can be genetically modified in an infinite number of ways.

            2. Preposterous. Undocumented claims like this, unsupported by a single peer-reviewed study are what’s wrong with society today. “Than’s what they want you to think” thinking is irrational and borderline insane.

        2. True Dat!!!

          “Unless we put medical freedom into the Constitution, the time will come
          when medicine will organize into an undercover dictatorship to restrict
          the art of healing to one class of Men and deny equal privileges to
          others; the Constitution of the Republic should make a Special
          privilege for medical freedoms as well as religious freedom.”
          Dr. Benjamin Rush, Signer of Declaration of Independence

      3. Who’s writing fiction?

    2. Are we deferring to Joss Whedon for our directives regarding public health now? If so I would like to see him interviewed about whether teenagers should be allowed to make their own choice about being vaccinated.

      1. Nice try, “Jillian”. Maybe you’ll hit the Big Leagues and can re-write press releases and singly-cite advocacy group “studies”.

      2. PINK METH JENKEM TATTOO ACID BUTT CHUGGING

    3. “Unless we put medical freedom into the Constitution, the time will come
      when medicine will organize into an undercover dictatorship to restrict
      the art of healing to one class of Men and deny equal privileges to
      others; the Constitution of the Republic should make a Special
      privilege for medical freedoms as well as religious freedom.”
      Dr. Benjamin Rush, Signer of Declaration of Independence

  2. spoke to me from a hiding place in her bedroom closet…

    asked that her real name not be used, isn’t alone….

    In recent months, dozens of teenagers have come forward online…

    Memes circulate online…

    Another teenager posted on Reddit…

    multiple experts on adolescent health law refused to discuss the issue on the record…

    I smell fake news

    1. I wonder how someone becomes an ‘expert on adolescent health law?’

      1. Google?

        1. Thanks –

          there is a wikiHow that shows me how to be an expert in 13 steps (with pictures)

          https://www.wikihow.com/Become-an-Expert

          1. That’s hilarious. Thank you.

    2. And you have no basis for that. There is no reason to disbelieve this report or the kid making the claim if you have ever gotten out of the basement and off the internet. There are nutter parents all over who would rather trust internet nutters than people have studied the topic for years.

      1. I’m skeptical of anonymous sources and Reddit posts or any “journalism” that doesn’t wear out shoe leather and have citations.

        I would hardly be shocked if the author made up her “girl in a closet whispering on a cell phone”.

        Just because it “rings true” doesn’t mean it is true. 4 out of 5 12 y/o heroin addicts in DC agree.

        1. Even then I would say that ‘fake news’ connotes more than just a made up source. “Teen wants to get vaccinated against parents’ wishes” hasn’t been news since pre-teen girls started wanting to get their ears pierced.

    3. Dang you really just think someone on *this* site created all this content for the purpose of….what, exactly? And in case you haven’t noticed, numerous other reputable sources have reported the same statistics about the increase in measles diagnoses as well as posting anonymous interviews with parents and children on each side of this debate.

      1. My replies above were meant to go here…

        I’m a teenager, among dozens, coming forward online so you know it’s true…

      2. posting anonymous interviews with parents and children on each side of this debate

        Anonymous? Why? Are the vaccine police going to come around to get them? The anti-vaccine protesters show up and a gang war break out? WTF?

        What are their parents going to do, give them measles? Kick them out of the house because they’ve developed antibodies?

        It’s bullshit victimocracy crap.

  3. Parents have parental rights. Right or wrong, as long as they are trying to act in the best interests of the child, why should anyone have a legal right to go against the parent’s wishes.

    It might also suck for kids to be stuck in a place that they dont want to live or study something that they dont want to study. Too bad.

    When you are 18, make your own decisions and mistakes and pay for them yourself.

    1. Well, according to the article, they have the legal right in several medical areas; abortion, Sexually transmitted disease prevention and treatment, gender reassignment therapies and surgeries, but just not vaccines.
      (And no one has to pay for anything, everything is free.)

      1. But part of that is logically incoherent policy resulting from the courts taking legislative powers on themselves on issues surrounding contraception and abortion.

    2. Ah, yes…”too bad.” The phrase eternally associated with liberty and the fight against authoritarianism.

      By having kids, we become responsible for them, but that doesn’t mean that we own them.

      1. Someone who has not raised children of their own would not understand what you are saying. Someone who is not a parent really cannot understand the depth of responsibility involved.

        18 is not some magical number. It is the arbitrary age to buy beer or join the army, or is that 21 now?

        A sixteen year old who wants to have sex with her boyfriend is perfectly capable of deciding contraceptive choices and if she wants the recommended HPV vaccine for example.

        A six month old who should get the MMR obviously is at the mercy of her parents who might be irresponsible idiots.

        1. Agreed. Unfortunately, some parents equate “responsibility” with “control.” We have a responsibility to make decisions for our tiny ones, good decisions like getting the MMR vaccine. Not because we own them (“too bad!”), but because we’re responsible for making some decisions for them when they can’t do so, themselves.

          1. In the case of a minor, the parents are going to be morally and even legally responsible for dealing with the consequences of the decision the minor has a right to make without their input. Undermining parental duties to their children in one aspect will justify undermining them in other aspects in favor of the state.

            1. I agree with your first sentence. But I don’t know what a “duty” is for a parent, other than to provide their kids what they need to become healthy adults.

              I homeschooled my son, because I think school sucks. But I always and explicitly gave him the option of going to school. If I hadn’t, and he’d expressed an interest in going to school, it would would have been wrong of me to not allow him, even if I do think state schools are the worst.

              1. But I don’t know what a “duty” is for a parent, other than to provide their kids what they need to become healthy adults.

                So can you provide us with a clear list of what it constitutes or, at the end of the day, is this the sort of thing that we’re going to have to leave more generally in the hands of the parents rather than the hands of the kids? If you can’t get us a list on what it takes to manufacture healthy adults, could you at least get us the list by which parents can avoid raising the next Tim McVeigh or John Wayne Gacy?

            2. This is where I am. Government is targeting parental rights with these decisions. “I wouldn’t do it that way.” isn’t a reason to let the state to tell you what is right or wrong for your children. The implication that “all of us” care more for your children than you do as the parent is gross.

              And that’s ignoring the fact that most children have spent their entire thinking lives in schools run by the government. Which opinion do you think they’re going to support the most? Probably the one the government tells them to.

    3. Does that include the crazy parents giving their kids clorox concoctions to cure autism? Or the nuts who starve their kids in closets because they think that will run the devil out of them? There are limits to parental control vs the rights of the kids to live like humans and not be poisoned or come down with polio.

      1. What are the numbers on these clorox loving, devil hating parents?

    4. At what point do you draw the line? Parents who think genital mutilation is in the interests of the child? Parents who think gouging out the little Charlie’s eyeballs before putting him in the meat grinder is in the best interests of the child?

      There is clearly a line to draw. The problem with parental rights issues is that there is no market for “unborn” individuals to negotiate with prospective parents, sign a contract and decide whom to be born to. Until such a market can be simulated, the government must negotiate to some extent on behalf of the children.

      1. First person to say “grinding *before* gouging out the eyeballs is obviously in the best interests of the child” gets fed to cannibals by their parents.

        1. How would you go about grinding ungouged eyeballs? You’re just being ridiculous.

      2. Any line drawn is going to be arbitrary. ????‍♂️

    5. “Right or wrong, as long as they are trying to act in the best interests of the child, why should anyone have a legal right to go against the parent’s wishes.”

      Spectacularly stupid. People who say things like this remind me of those who rant about stop signs, income taxes, and rules and progress in general. Parental rights do not involve child abuse or child endangerment. People who see it differently are morally deficient, although sometimes their culpability is mitigated by being on the spectrum and therefore incapable of worthwhile judgment.

      1. Keep on clingin’, gecko.

    6. as long as they are trying to act in the best interests of the child, why should anyone have a legal right to go against the parent’s wishes.

      I think there’s something to be said to letting the kids – the ones who are the target of these ‘best interests’ have some say.

      How do you judge when someone has someone else’s best interests in mind? Is it because they say they do? And when do ‘parental rights’ trump ‘my rights’?

      1. “And when do ‘parental rights’ trump ‘my rights’?”

        When your father is Donald Trump?

  4. Parents’ wishes can be debilitating, but if you’re strong you can recover from them and lead a normal life. I don’t think there’s a vaccination against them.

  5. So if a kid chooses not to get vaccinated despite their parents wishes (say, because the kid doesn’t like needles), you’re ok with that too?

    Or do you support kids’ choices only if they conform to progressive orthodoxy?

    1. Getting vaccinated is “progressive orthodoxy” in the same way that accepting there are two biological sexes is “fascist orthodoxy.” Established, demonstrable science doesn’t give a fuck about petty political labels.

      If a kid chooses not to get vaccinated they should be free to not be vaccinated. Also, they should have limits placed on their ability to interact in social environments. Your liberty to spread disease ends where others’ immune systems begin.

      1. Established, demonstrable science doesn’t give a fuck about petty political labels.

        You mean climate change?

      2. Established, demonstrable science doesn’t give a fuck about petty political labels.

        It is not “established, demonstrable science” that all vaccines are safe; in fact, the belief that vaccines are safe is ludicrously unscientific. Many vaccines are so unsafe that they aren’t even approved for use in the US.

        There is a handful of vaccines that are approved in the US that most people believe to be safe and for which it makes sense to get vaccinated.

        Also, they should have limits placed on their ability to interact in social environments. Your liberty to spread disease ends where others’ immune systems begin.

        In fact, the libertarian analysis of this is much simpler: people are free to make choices about whether to get vaccinated, and people are free to make choices who to associate with. Nobody needs to have any “limits” placed on them by the state.

        Only collectivists and fascists like you believe in “placing limits” on people for the benefit of collective health or herd immunity.

    2. Depends what you mean by kid.

      You can’t make a teen do anything much if they don’t want to, try it.

      Most of the vaccination schedule is done before age two. They might cry a little. A gentle approach and the child will not fear the doctor. Pediatricians spend years learning the art.

      Playing at doctor with a plastic stethoscope and LEGO hospital is something young children often do in creative play because they remember it and get things like ear infections or whatever.

      When I was a child I still remember that going to the doctor, you at least got a lollipop after. All better.

    3. This debate isn’t really focused on “kids”, it’s focused on teenagers.

      So yeah, if a teenager is objecting to a vaccine, they’ll probably get away with not taking the vaccine.

      1. This debate isn’t really focused on “kids”, it’s focused on teenagers.

        Yes, that’s how I was using the term “kids”.

        So yeah, if a teenager is objecting to a vaccine, they’ll probably get away with not taking the vaccine.

        OK, so are you or are you not agreeing that teenagers should be free to make a choice over whether to get vaccinated?

        Because the article seems to make the argument only in one direction and not the other direction.

        That is, is this about a free choice for teenagers, or is it about teenagers who make a choice that the authors happen to approve of?

  6. But what happens when a teenager wants to make a different choice?

    Then they must be forced to admit the errors of their ways and pledge to return to the fold. Progressivism today, progressivism tomorrow, progressivism forever!

    Unless they was to get a sex change. Then it’s totes OK.

    1. *sigh* You aren’t supposed to say sex change anymore. It’s gender confirmation surgery now. Before that it was gender reassignment surgery. Before that it sex reassignment surgery. Anyway, tomorrow it’s going to be something new, and it’s totally your responsibility to know what it is. You might have to take a short break from slaughtering unicorns to keep up with the never-ending march of progressivism. Thank you for your compliance.

      1. the never-ending march of progressivism

        Well, it certainly is a “long march”.

  7. Psst. Hey man I got the good stuff. MMR, polio, scarlet fever whatever you need I got it. The first taste is free.

    1. I can use a dose of Marburg vaccine, if you don’t ask questions.

      1. Whats Marburg vaccine? I sincerely want to know; that name is attached to too many seemingly unrelated things…

        1. Marburg is a virus in the same family as Ebola. It is highly lethal and there is no specific vaccine.

          There are Ebola vaccines out there and results are promising. It is possible that a single vaccine could be developed which will be effective against both.

  8. Typically, while there is plenty of public and media outrage, government regs and policies make dealing with the issue more difficult.

  9. To Jillian Keenan and the editors of Reason, you are supposed to be Libertarian in belief which comes down to freedom of choice. Instead you chose to write an article about legitimate differences on opinion then only list one side of the debate. That is the very opposite of journalism that is promotion of a belief and pro government control.

    We are talking about health here nothing is perfectly safe, just read the back of the article. People vary there will always be somebody who is allergic to anything and it is not safe for them.
    Even if the MMR was perfectly safe that does not equate to justification to force it upon everybody. Again we are talking medical anti-biotics are probably safer and have saved many more lives however we all know giving them for every little “cold” is not a good idea.

    Again the Libertarian point is supposed to be freedom of choice not pushing your opinion and when it come to medical your opinion will be mostly wrong sooner or later.

    1. “does not equate to justification to force it upon everybody”

      Are you reading the same article as everyone else?

      1. I read the same article, yes it was about choice of young adults / kids. Then the article listed reason after reason why the kids should get vaccinated. Not journalism but activism.

        What the article was about has zero to do with how biased the message was. Journalism and Libertarianism is supposed to be about allowing both sides and letting people choose, this article did neither.

    2. Ok so the other side you would like to see is from : The parents who are denying their children the opportunity to be vaccinated against preventable diseases. Are you really in need of an education as to their motives or belief systems?

      1. How about the other, other side: teenagers who don’t want to get vaccinated but are forced by their parents to be vaccinated?

  10. There is no such thing as a Libertarian argument for anti-vaxxers. By not vaccinating, you violate the NAP and infect others who have not yet been vaccinated. Depending on the age children typically receive these vaccines and the vaccine in question, you could very well be giving people a substantially elevated risk of specific cancers.

    It’s like if you infected the water supply by not cleaning yourself, got other people sick, and then tried to say it’s your right to be filthy.

    1. By not vaccinating, you violate the NAP and infect others who have not yet been vaccinated.

      Except ‘being (potentially) contagious’ is no more active or absolutely detectable or preventable than ‘being black’. More paradoxical to your position is that ‘being susceptible’ and, thus potentially a victim of “aggression”, is rather synonymous with ‘being (potentially) contagious’.

      It’s like if you infected the water supply by not cleaning yourself, got other people sick, and then tried to say it’s your right to be filthy.

      You’re terrible at analogies.

    2. There is no such thing as a Libertarian argument for anti-vaxxers. By not vaccinating, you violate the NAP and infect others who have not yet been vaccinated.

      That’s utter bullshit. Not being vaccinated doesn’t make you a disease carrier.

      It’s like if you infected the water supply by not cleaning yourself, got other people sick, and then tried to say it’s your right to be filthy.

      It is very much like that. That is, if you start with a collectivist and fascist mindset and assume that there is such a thing as “the” water supply, then the state can take away my liberty to achieve its end. But if water supply is a private matter, then whether I can contaminate it or not depends on the contracts between the water supply owner and its users.

      And that’s also the answer for vaccinations: in a libertarian setting, nobody is compelled to be vaccinated against anything, and nobody is compelled to associate with the unvaccinated. Market forces will then determine which venues require which vaccinations; most private schools and most airlines would probably require the common set of vaccinations. It would achieve the same ends as a sensible government mandate without a government mandate.

  11. But opposition to vaccines gained momentum in the United States in the ’90s, after British doctor Andrew Wakefield released a fraudulent research paper linking the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine to autism.

    That’s bizarre because the most recent outbreak has largely centered around orthodox Jewish populations, which predates Wakefield and the vaccines by several millenia.

    It’s almost like you don’t give two shits about the facts as long as it supports your narrative that everyone get vaccinated.

    1. Well those Hasidic communities are well out of the main orthodox circle.

      I would argue with them I am Jewish, that pikuach nefesh, preservation of life and is broadly interpreted by orthodox rabbinical scholars to health in general, is an overriding principle in Jewish law. So much so that one may violate other laws such as kosher or sabbath laws to do so. It is an obligation, not an option.

      This is well established in the Talmud and other sources. Jewish people have been at the front lines in advancement of medicine and medical science for many centuries because it is so central to the culture and belief.

      These people are total nutters. There is nothing in Jewish law Halacha, against vaccination. It is an abomination to not protect your children.

      1. These people are total nutters. There is nothing in Jewish law Halacha, against vaccination. It is an abomination to not protect your children.

        Do you even know the tradeoffs and justifications that went into something like measles or TB vaccination? Or do you just blindly believe that everything government does is for the individual protection of you and your children?

        (NB: I think measles vaccination is a good thing, even though it is not primarily intended to protect anyone’s children.)

        1. Nah I spent many years learning medical science.

          I could care less about the government.

          1. I thought so: you don’t, in fact, understand it.

            And I don’t know what fantasy land you live in, but “I could[n’t] care less about the government.” is a serious delusion in the US in 2019.

      2. Well those Hasidic communities are well out of the main orthodox circle.

        This is well established in the Talmud and other sources. Jewish people have been at the front lines in advancement of medicine and medical science for many centuries because it is so central to the culture and belief.

        Fair enough and I don’t disagree (my understanding is that most of these communities are comprised of people who were unaware of their vaccination status and/or no longer hold specific religious objections to vaccines or the particular vaccination) but not my point. When we’re arguing about sects of Judaism you can accuse me of being an uninformed, partisan orthodox hack. Until then, vaccine opposition has had peaks and valleys that long predate Wakefield’s research and to arbitrarily limit the movement, let alone outbreaks, to this country since the 90s is willfully ignorant.

  12. There is a reason why insurance companies don’t make vaccines mandatory before making their insurance available.

    1. What would those reasons be?

      1. The usual reason is that lack of vaccination doesn’t substantially increase one’s insurance risk for most vaccinations.

  13. “In 2000, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) declared a triumph: Endemic measles, which had once claimed an estimated 400–500 lives per year and was responsible for thousands more hospitalizations, had been eliminated in the United States. But the celebration was short-lived. In the time since, measles outbreaks in the U.S. have spiked.”

    That’s why we need millions of immigrants to America. To bring back the viral diseases we eliminated!

    Maybe we’ll get some small pox next!

    So much viral enrichment!

  14. […] Meet the Teens Who Want To Get Vaccinated Against Their Parents’ Wishes — Reason […]

  15. It always cracks me up when Reason unabashedly accepts the mainstream view on things that have a lot more nuance to them… I thought libertarians were supposed to be independent thinkers?

    I’ve read up on this issue a fair amount over the years, and there’s logic on both sides.

    The reality is we’re not talking about vaccinating kids like WE had growing up… They’re giving every little baby dozens of vaccines in most cases now, almost all for shit that they are never likely to encounter. Every single one has a small, but real, chance of causing a reaction. One of the biggest arguments a lot of moderate anti vaccine people make is that half the problem is the sheer volume of them nowadays, and the fact that we’re giving them to babies whose immune systems aren’t even fully developed yet.

    The truth is that with some vaccines there are now more averse reactions in the US than problems from the things they’re vaccinating against. Now, that’s mostly not people dying, but merely people getting sick for a time… But still. There’s a reason vaccines are completely immune (couldn’t help it!) from lawsuits as per US law, it’s because they’d be getting sued all the time for bad reactions if they weren’t, and they bought their carve out from politicians.

    IMO vaccination should be a case by case basis thing. Is a given vaccine super safe statistically? Because it does vary. Do you or your child actually have reasonable odds of needing vaccination against a given thing? Does the problem in question even cause any real potential for harm if they catch it? If not, why bother? We know anti bacterial soaps etc weaken our immune system now, I can’t imagine not catching minor things like the flu will help your immune system, even though it may or may not actively hurt it… We don’t know either way for sure. Some vaccines need to be reupped numerous times throughout life too, whereas just letting your kid catch the thing makes them immune for life… Maybe you might as well just let them get chicken pox and be done with it… I survived just fine. So on and so forth. In other words LOGICAL REASONS to consider.

    After that, I’d say it makes a lot of sense to wait for kids to get a little older and more physically mature before pumping them full of shit. While a little Nyquil here or an Advil there might be helpful for being sick/in pain, getting pumped full of a ton of shit that messes with your immune system all at once just doesn’t logically sound like a smart thing to do, just as taking a ton of random medications all at once is a bad idea. Maybe someday we’ll figure out more optimal ways, or prove that pumping babies full all at once is okay… But right now they don’t actually know it is safe, they just take it as an article of faith.

    In short, I don’t get vaccinated for shit. BUT if I were to take a trip to South America, I would probably get a malaria vaccine… Because it would actually make sense. If I’m not going there, I’d be an idiot to get the vaccine. There would be a small but non zero chance of a bad reaction, and there is no upside.

    In short: Simply consider the actual facts of the situation, and use your head. There is no reason to get every vaccine ever, just as there is no reason to never get any vaccine ever.

    1. Oh, and as for kids making their decisions… It’s a tough issue. A small number of teenagers are more or less competent to make semi minor decisions like this… But anybody who thinks a 16 year old is across the board as competent as an adult is a moron. They’re not.

      A given 16 year old may be smarter than a given 40 year old… But there is basically nobody who is as smart at 16 as they will be at 40. I’m open for debate on when kids should be given incremental rights, and maybe minor medical choices should be one of them… But the argument kids are as competent overall is nonsense, and IMO the 18 year old mark for general granting of full rights is not terribly off base. It may be conservative for smart kids, but it’s too early for a lot of dumb ones!

    2. There is no commercial malaria vaccine for adults.

      The only one made is still under review and tested in children. It does not seem very effective and requires multiple doses.

      The best way to prevent malaria is not to get bit by the mosquito. If you have to be in an endemic area there are drugs but those have risks greater than any vaccine.

      1. The best current was to prevent malaria is to kill mosquitoes so they can’t bite someone .

        1. Yes but has not been possible everywhere.

          Insecticides have limitations as well. Mosquitoes can develop resistance to DDT and other pesticides.

          One thing that has been explored are introducing genetically modified mosquitoes. From what I gather it is not just about anti GMO nutters. The technology is more difficult and not there yet from what I gather. Basically we are dealing with complex organisms, both the parasite and the vectors. Also the Amazon basin is not Minnesota.

          Overall it is getting better and the Gates foundation has done a great job investing in treatment and research.

          1. Well, I was simply making a general point, nothing about malaria specifically.

            My point being if you have a REASON to think you might be in contact with something that has a vaccine, it might be worth taking it. But if you’re not going to be in any situations where it is likely, then it’s a rather pointless exercise. You have a monetary cost, a potential health cost, and get no gain. Pretty pointless.

            As for the genetically modified mosquitoes… It’s an interesting thing… I am very much a pro tech person in general… But the thing that is potentially sketchy about genetically modifying living things is that they can spread into the wild unintentionally (or in the case of the mosquitoes that’s where we want to put them to begin with), and potentially completely bork the ecosystem in ways it may never recover from.

            They’re genetically modifying the mosquitoes so they cannot breed… That’s all fine and well in theory… Until one of them mutates and can breed, then spreads its genes, etc. This was Jurassic Park’s theme, and it’s not an incorrect one since all genes mutate. Not to mention cutting the mosquito population will have ripple effects even if all goes according to plan, like reducing the population of things that eat them. It’s generally complex shit.

            I’m not saying no GMO critters should ever be let out into the world… But whatever mods we’re doing to them need to be VERY thoroughly thought out, and we need to always assume they may well replace the entire population of the natural critter we modified. If the effects of that happening are unacceptable for some reason, it probably shouldn’t be done, because we don’t truly have a way to control it once it’s out there.

  16. I get the libertarian idea that government shouldn’t control our lives. I really do. But even the US government isn’t wrong 100% of the time. Not vaccinating is just plain stupid, and it’s good to know that this stupidity isn’t necessarily hereditary.

    1. Do you not know how to think things through logically?

      It’s a nuanced thing. Not every vaccine is worth doing for every person… Just as it is also not true that nobody should ever receive any vaccines. Different geographic areas, people with different health levels, etc have different pros and cons to weigh with respect to particular vaccines.

  17. Very good article and one other thing to point out. The anti-vaccination movement is heavily influenced by and is (most likely) an environmentalist front. Dr. Elena Conis at UC Berkeley made the connection in an interview with the LA Times a few years ago.

    Also, IMHO, it would not be an abridgement of individual rights to mandate vaccines for kids. The rights of the children precede the rights of the parents. If any of us were kids and our parents denied us life saving therapies and treatments (including vaccinations) we would want someone to rescue us.

    1. Of course there are dirty hippies in both movements… I HATE hippies, but that doesn’t mean they’re wrong 100% of the time.

      The bottom line is different people have different variables to factor into whether or not to get any given vaccine. It may make sense for a person with a certain health history, living in a certain geographic area to receive half of vaccines that are on the market, and not get the other half. For a different person, they might be wise to get almost exclusively the half of vaccines the other person didn’t get.

      Virtually none of these things are universally useful for 100% of people. And even if they are, the risks for almost every single vaccine available are low. 99.9% of these things are not deadly, and in some cases actually getting the illness is better in some ways, offering lifetime immunity vs having to reup a vaccine every several years.

      Why do all you people feel the need to make it so black and white?

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