Brian L. Grant MD
MCNTalk has been following the vaccination refusal controversy for some time. As noted in this recent Times article, a NY court has affirmed the right to deny access to schools by unvaccinated children when another student is ill with a vaccine-preventable disease.
These particular cases are interesting because they illustrate a clash in values between sincerely held beliefs, religious or otherwise, and the public good. It leaves unanswered or at least unresolved the question of whether beliefs may trump good science. Also un-addressed is the practice in place whereby one can invoke religion where convenient, though scriptures are silent on vaccines and many other practices that individuals may choose to invoke religion to justify or excuse behaviors and choices.
Vaccines are a medical miracle that have virtually eliminated smallpox, diphtheria, measles, pertussis, and polio, maladies that have killed and maimed untold millions in the world and which can easily re-emerge when there is a sufficient number of unvaccinated to allow for transmission from person to person, versus current herd immunity that keeps the diseases in check.
Beyond the bad science claiming dangers of vaccinations are the polarizing effect of well-meaning parents and others who have come to believe these claims, clashing with other parents and authorities who do not want to support policies that in turn support the unvaccinated exposing their children and others to preventable risk.
The comments by readers, available along with the article, contain many compelling arguments worth considering on the topic.