“Despite years of research, there’s no good way to convince anti-vaxxers of the truth. It’s time to make vaccination mandatory for all kids.” Phoebe Day Danziger and Rebekah Diamond in Slate.com, July 25, 2016.
Some pro-vaccination advocates have become profoundly discouraged about the possibility of educating or persuading their “constituents” of the importance of vaccination and have chosen instead to focus their efforts on obtaining legislative solutions. From that vantage point, I guess blogs like mine would more or less qualify as spitting in the wind.
I couldn’t be more sympathetic. Having spent much of my professional career as a foot soldier in the struggle against tobacco, I am well aware of how easy it is to create debate where none exists, to push for a “balanced” view or urge compromise when in fact there are not two “sides,” merely one scientific truth. I understand that laws and regulations (or more accurately, “protections”) are necessary to promote herd immunity and uphold the social contract, and they can’t be allowed to be framed as a “choice” or a matter of personal freedom.
On the other hand, laws can be changed, revoked, qualified, voted down, left unenforced (wink, wink), etc. (As my daughter exclaimed when Roe v Wade received its first serious challenge in 1989, “I thought this was settled 17 years ago!” She’s older and wiser now and knows that laws don’t necessarily stay put.) Moreover, laws governing vaccination policy generally apply on a state-by-state basis, and unconvinced parents may homeschool their children while migrating from state to state seeking an environment with more lenient provisions or enforcement practices vis-a-vis vaccination. As if things weren’t already in turmoil, we’ve now entered an era in which the fox has essentially been invited into the henhouse.
So in the spirit of trying to do what I can, when I can, where I can - which is in general how I try to approach life in my seventies - I will continue to blog in the hopes that some will be swayed by my perspective. But I will also lend my support to science-based legislation, knowing that if some of us fail to heed the hard lessons of past epidemics, all of us may be doomed to repeat history.