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Childhood vaccinations

The state should not compel or restrict behaviour that does not impact on others via the initiation of force or the seizure or destruction of property.  It is quite amazing just how many people give the state a pass to do things, that any other organisation or individual would be sanctioned or jailed for.  This is the cultural programming and thus state schools.  People simply can’t understand how things would be done without the state.

“But who would pay for the roads, the schools, hospitals?” people cry.  This is just a failure of imagination and the inability to think in the abstract and thus why state schools don’t really teach these things.  People are taught by the state to accept its authority, legitimacy and force.

So on that note, I found myself pondering the issue of children’s inoculations.  Now in the abstract, the human ability to identify a pathology and devise an immunisation from it, is one of our great achievements.  And this won’t be one of those “my kid started acting weird after his injections and I can’t differentiate between correlation and causation” type posts either.

I admit, as young master SAoT approached his MMR booster, I did look at various studies and the meta-study and it looks to my untrained eye like there is no link between the jabs and autism etc and thus he had the jabs.  But two issues arise that I would appreciate your various opinions on.

First, giving the MMR at the same time as the 4-in-1 pre-school booster (DtaP/IPV) is surely about bureaucratic convenience rather than the fact that sticking seven vaccines to a three-year old is a treatment optimum?

Second, the state school system (in some areas anyway) demands certificates from parents confirming their kids have been jabbed or they won’t admit them.  This is in effect making vaccines compulsory for poor people (no such bollocks in the school the boy goes to, they want your money too much and don’t have a gun to stick in your face to get it).

This second issue is baffling to me.  Some claim that it is not ‘fair’ in some way, if some of the kids are jabbed and others aren’t, but I just can’t see this one for the life of me.  If every other kid in the boy’s pre-reception class ducked MMR it would bother me not at all.  Similarly, an outbreak of any of the diseases (assuming the vaccines are effective) would have no consequences for him, except in the extreme to perhaps make the class size a bit smaller.

So surely, this has to be one for parents not state compulsion?


  1. jameshigham says:

    I don’t trust inoculations any more – those flu jabs cause more trouble than they cure – at least in my case. Different thing if you’re going to a cholera-infested country.

  2. timdifano says:

    The complication is of course herd immunity. If a large proportion of the population has the vaccine a small outbreak of disease will not spread, but if many opt out then the disease can spread rapidly. Now I hear you say “but my kid is vaccinated, so not my problem”, which is true, but rather hard on those who cannot be vaccinated (the very young, the very old and otherwise unable). This probably makes it a public good (non-excludable and non-rivalrous) but I’m not an economist…but is the only reason I can think of for the state to stick its nose in.

  3. Roue le Jour says:

    “…bureaucratic convenience…”

    Socialised medicine in a nutshell. You get what you’re given, not what you want.

    If I might fly off at a tangent inspired by your remarks? As to giving the government a pass, I think it really important to emphasise there is no “government pass”. i.e. what’s wrong is wrong and who pays your wages doesn’t change anything. If there is a day of judgement you can be pretty damn sure “just obeying orders” or even “trying to do what’s best” isn’t going to impress Him one little bit.

    Re: cultural programming, I have been musing recently on the impact of the human life cycle on politics. For example, I can clearly remember serious debate about the role of the state in the 60s, but by the end of the 70s that had ceased. Run the numbers and what do you find? By that time everybody who had grown to adulthood before 1945 was retired or dead. The country was now run by people who had grown up during the welfare state and it was just accepted as a given. This is a really, really difficult thing to fight against. I thought I understood the evils of the big state but I confess I had to live here in Thailand for years before I was fully “deprogrammed”.

    Similarly I thing oppressive regimes fall when a new generation arises and asks, “We’re doing this shit why exactly?” In this one respect I think Orwell was wrong. Totalitarian states simply cannot run forever. Long enough to be a real pain for a lot of people, sure. But not forever.

  4. NickM says:

    OK, me, just me…

    And, whilst I agree with your principle this is not the point to fight because the state is right here. Vaccinations are vital not just to deal with individual cases but because of platoon immunity (which is more important, and I can’t stress this enough, about more than not watching Oliver Stone moving pictures starring Charlie “The Warlock” Sheen.

    It is about your kid not getting a nasty disease and maybe dying. It is about saying, “Well, that were terrible – but no bugger has died from it in 200 years”. That is what us white-coated types call a “result”. The MMR fracas was to use a technical term, utter drivel. This is the same. If there is a scandal here it ain’t vaccination but the hoops big-pharma have to leap through to get licensed (and of course the fact big-pharma kinda likes that sort-of because it keeps Nanny Ogg out of the game).

    Look, the studies into autism and Crohn’s with the link to MMR were best-bollocks. They were the veritable Sh’ite of an Aayatollah of Rockin-Rolla. A science undergrad at a moderate university could have called them.

    And the entire thing was based upon a falsehood. Yes, measles, mumps and rubella are common childhood maladies and almost everyone recovers but some don’t. Obviously Crohn’s and autism (how they got from bowel to brain is a mystery) are serious in the case of the individual but they are rare and yes those troublesome childhood illnesses do sometimes kill or disable.

    So let’s look at reality. Platoon immunity is needed. Let’s take an example from my A-Level Biology text. They had a picture of a bloke from East Africaq (this is like ’91 so don’t expect the details – and he was photographed in the ’70s) and he waqs the last person on Earth to get smallpox. We put that fucker to bed without tea or biscuits. You probs know someone who got cancer. I bet you don’t anyone who got bubonic plague. No, neither do I because this isn’t the fucking fourteenth century. It was all the rage back then, apparently.

    Aand a huge chunk of the anti-vacc is derived from demented religious loons thinking HPV vaccinations are some form of license for promiscuity (however one defines that) and they are not. Yes, there is an issue – the NHS went for the cheap shot and decided not to do boys (platoon immunity again!).

    Cervical cancer could become within a generation a truly peculiar ailment rather than a very common one as it is now. But it depends on the platoons as ever. And religious nutcases are not helping. I suppose they think abstinence works. Yeah, right. Whatever. Were they never teenagers themselves?

    And there is another thing. My parents were both teachers. My wife’s parents were guess what? Every September we got colds or ‘flu. Both of us.

    Platoons. Though in the case of the average secondary school it’s more of a brigade.

  5. CountingCats says:

    And, whilst I agree with your principle this is not the point to fight because the state is right here.
    Only if you accept the right of the state to medicate you.

    So if sufficient people are immunised we get herd immunity, where the vulnerable are too few, as a percentage of the population, to support a permanent population of the causal bug. And that is an argument to force medication on others?

    Nope, sorry. If I get my kids immunised then they are protected. It may be my opinion that others should do the same, but I am unaffected if they don’t, and unaffected if they do. No harm accrues to me or mine whatever decision they make, therefore I have no right to force my opinions onto them. That if 80% plus are vaccinated then everyone is rendered safe through herd immunity may be true, but it is incidental.

    The state isn’t right in this matter. No more than it is in fluoridation of water.

  6. bella gerens says:


    It is not incidental.

    Herd immunity has another benefit than just protecting the unvaccinated. Bacteria and virus which are prevented from spreading and reproducing mutate much more slowly.

    If your child is vaccinated, and the 99 children around him who aren’t contract the disease, it will not be very long before the organism has mutated sufficiently to render your child’s vaccine ineffective.

    Herd immunity also, therefore, protects the vaccinated.

  7. nen o'yer pish noo says:

    Heh – when I was a kid the great thing about getting ill was that all your mates would come round to play – the Mothers Mafia would see to it. Then your mates’d all get ill too and we’d all end up with immunity. Mind you, that was in the days when children were encouraged and expected to take reasonable risks rather than being mollycoddled to an early grave.

  8. Mike says:

    I’m with timdifano – and if you take it to the Nth degree, herd immunity finally results in eradication (smallpox, polio with the exception of a couple of renegade muslim communities).

    But although I cannot fathom for the life of me why anyone would not vaccinate their kids, it still doesn’t give the state the right to force it.

    The public school question is different. The owners/managers of a school have every right to stipulate their conditions for entry, and that doesn’t change regardless of the legitimacy of the owner; even though we might all agree that some people (guvmints) oughtn’t to be running schools, in fact they are.

  9. NickM says:

    My take is if I had kids I would have them vacced against anything going. I regard that as the sensible thing for a father to do. I further regard anyone who doesn’t as an idiot. But that against the law. Nor should it be. This is neither for me a libertarian touchstone issue (how can I really object to a law that makes me do what I was anyway? Yes, I appreciate the further issues but that is not the ground I choose to fight on.) And yes, smallpox is no more (and thank science for that) and polio is restricted to certain areas of the ‘stans where for Allah knows best they believe it is a sinister Zionist plot to make them infertile. And upon the banks of the Jordan Jesus indeed wept.

    No, I don’t want enforced vaccing but then I don’t think things of such obvious value will be done anyway. And as long as wankers like the MMR scare-mongerers are kicked righteously into touch (you know how much evidence they had? Fuck all!) parents will choose to have their kids done.

    Some of us will live to get an email from King William V. I think it is called progress.

  10. John Galt says:

    Although I am a pretty solid libertarian of the Anarcho-Capitalist variety, I struggled with the vacinations issue primarily because of the benefits of herd immunity along with the proven ability to entirely eradicate diseases through programmes of mass immunisation.

    However, it should be remembered that smallpox was not eradicated by government mandate, but by widespread free immunization along with clear public health messages “Get vaccinated so children don’t die”. When the majority of the populations were vaccinated the teams targetted outbreaks in the third world like firefighters until it was eradicated.

    This does not require government intervention, but does require that people are fully informed and that vacinnation is widely available and free at point of source. To take an idealogical viewpoint on this would be idiotic as it is a very serious public health issue.

    If poor uptake is a barrier to herd immunity, then there are mechanisms for achieving it. However, governments (as usual) mess it up by forcing people to do things rather than getting them to do it of their own volition. Always using the stick rather than the carrot.

    This led to some GPs ejecting patients from their register for not being given the MMR vaccine, even though their parents may have had them immunised separately and privately against all 3. The driver behind this was NHS financial incentives on MMR numbers, the doctors needing to have >90% of under 5′s immunised in their practice to achieve a bonus payment of up to 25,000 Pounds as I recall (possibling incorrectly)

    Ultimately, the cost of not having herd immunity for major diseases is paid for by dead and crippled children in their hundreds. I’m prepared to pay money to ensure that doesn’t happen, just like Bill Gates does.

  11. I think this is one of those rare cases where _inaction_ can impose real costs on third parties.

    I’m not convinced by the multiple vaccinations argument however. It seems to me more about administrative convenience than anything else.

  12. Single Acts of Tyranny says:

    “The public school question is different. The owners/managers of a school have every right to stipulate their conditions for entry, and that doesn’t change regardless of the legitimacy of the owner”

    Oh yes it does. If the government takes your cash by force, and more or less insists you send your kids to their schools (private schools and home-schoolers notwithstanding) these two coervice acts hardly give legitimacy to a third.

    What if the manager starts saying only true believers (in their particular fairy story) can come to this school, whoops bad example, catholic schools. So you pay your money but have no choice?

  13. If you want to send your children to a particular fee paying school with particular rules of admission you have to decide if those rules outweigh the perceived benefits of attendance. Quite often neither the rules (vaccination) nor the benefits (social status) are educational.

    Herd immunity is however science and cannot be ignored or dismissed. Inaction in this case – ie non-vaccination – damages others, whether by making it more likely that other non-vaccinated kids fall ill, or by making the development of resistant strains more likely. Action – ie vaccination of your own children – conveys benefits on others by contributing to the development of herd immunity.

    Despite the attitude of many libertarians (I do not describe myself as libertarian) living in society is not easy and you cannot conduct your life by a series of yes/no decisions. The choices you have to make are almost always multi-variate.

  14. The Stigler says:


    “If I get my kids immunised then they are protected. It may be my opinion that others should do the same, but I am unaffected if they don’t”

    Yes, but in your case, your kids can be vaccinated. There’s a lot of kids out there that can’t (because of allergies). What protected them in the past was herd immunity, that everyone who could be vaccinated against measles did it. It’s not a solely individual matter.

    I really don’t care about anti-science hippies or religious nutjobs thinking they know better than pharma companies and health bodies. If it only affected them and their kids, I wouldn’t care less, and in fact, I’d consider it a social benefit as they are removing themselves from the gene pool.

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