Vaccination is a social responsibility

What a wonderful thing it is to be able to vaccinate our children, not just to protect them, but those around them that are too young to be completely vaccinated or cannot be vaccinated for health reasons. What a wonderful gift herd immunity is to and from humanity. Yes there are risks of adverse reactions to vaccination but such risks are microscopic and completely outweighed by the benefits.

While vaccines do a great job of protecting an individual, they are not a hundred percent effective and contrary to intuition, in some contexts, it is safer to be unvaccinated in a highly vaccinated population, than be vaccinated in a highly unvaccinated population – we all rely on herd immunity – not just those that cannot be vaccinated. The less effective a vaccine is, the more we all rely on herd immunity.

What an incredibly selfish thing it is then, to not vaccinate (unless you cannot for heath/age reasons) – to rely on your neighbours to protect your children rather than take a microscopic risk – to disengage from the wonderful social collaboration from which herd immunity emerges. Imagine what would happen if we were all that selfish.

Given that vaccination not only helps the individual, but the local population, it is especially sad that these same people blindly engage their children in activities that are orders of magnitude more dangerous – like driving them to school.

We all have bias and it’s so easy to resolve it with ‘intuition’, ideology and anecdote – but a truly caring and thoughtful person will live with any dissonance and act for the sake of their children and their neighbours, rather than indulge in the escape of their own cognitive comfort.

If you are a vaccine skeptic, think about this for a moment – you are only getting the choice to not vaccinate and have your children grow up without the probability of serious illness because most people around you have fulfilled their social responsibility and had their children vaccinated. Our children will be protecting your unvaccinated children. You are relying on your neighbours to be vaccinated. But the more people decide to not vaccinate, the more disease will drift back until at some point thousands of children will be dying again every year. Herd immunity builds up a resource – a precious space where a limited number of people can be protected in the herd – don’t contribute to a tragedy of the commons and deplete something so essential to the very young and those that cannot be vaccinated.

Be a thoughtful caring loving rational human being – vaccinate your children – get your boosters – it’s not just a personal choice like hairstyle is.

“It’s not just a decision you make for yourself, it’s also a decision you make for your neighbour.” Paul Offit.

“If you choose not to vaccinate, and you then contribute to a decline in herd immunity, you’re putting other people at risk… People need to be honest with themselves about what the consequences of their actions are.” Seth Mnookin.