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Crystal Leonard's picture

an interesting dilemma

To me, this whole issue comes down to risk analysis. There is a known, relatively high risk of disease associated with not being vaccinated. There is a less understood, smaller risk of developing autism during one's first few years of life for any number of possible reasons that have not been elucidated by scientists. One of these possible causes is vaccination. Coming from a risk analysis point of view, the small unknown risk of vaccination causing autism is insignificant compared to the larger known risk of disease, and therefore, one can conclude that it is negligent to not vaccinate one's children. Of course, trying to make this argument to a worried parent will most likely be fruitless because fear almost always wins out over logic in the public psyche. Since there will always be people who do not want to vaccinate their children because of the fear of autism, the question then becomes should the government require a certain percentage of the population to be vaccinated, and if there's not enough of the population willing to vaccinate their children to meet this minimal percentage what should the government do about it? I don't know the answers to these questions but it's definitely an interesting dilemma because at its core is the issue of individuals' rights versus the protection of the community, which is an issue that can be found at the core of almost all public policy controversies.

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