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 Ethics:  E-News Response by Barbara Loe Fisher


This comment was posted to our e-news list on 2/21/06 by NVIC 's President, in response to the article that follows.

BL Fisher Note:
When it happens to your child, the risks are 100 percent. Doctors are fallible and there are no guarantees.

Therefore, the only "ethical" thing to do when a medical intervention like vaccination carries with it a risk of injury or death, is to allow individuals the right to informed consent to taking the risk for themselves or their children. Those who do not want to take the risk of being injured or dying from an infectious disease, have the right to risk becoming injured or dying from vaccination. Those who do not want to take the risk of being injured or dying from a vaccination, have the right to risk becoming injured or dying from an infectious disease.

The vaccinated should have nothing to fear from the unvaccinated IF the vaccines work as well as doctors maintain they do. The only "free riders" in America are those who force their beliefs on others in an effort to destroy the spirit and intent of the US Constitution, which first and foremost seeks to protect minorities from being abused by the majority.

We should all be worried whenever anyone tries to demonize and target minorities who hold different beliefs from the majority in an attempt to pit citizen against citizen. The first step toward totalitarianism is to target the minority in question as a threat to the public health and welfare. The second step is to encourage citizens to identify and round up fellow citizens who belong to the minority and destroy them.


February 19, 2006
The Ethicist
Vaccination Verdict


I am a teacher. I have friends who refuse to vaccinate their children for fear of supposed side effects. Some have talked about getting faked doctors' forms that say their children have been vaccinated so they can attend public school. As someone legally and morally charged with the safety of children, I plan to report them to their respective school districts if they do so. Isn't this my duty? Anonymous, San Francisco

Reporting these counterfeits is something you may do but not something you must do. Similarly, you have a professional obligation to reproach a student in your own class who hands you a phony-baloney absence note. ("Please excuse me. . .I mean my son. . .for missing yesterday's quiz. I was — darn it — he was feeling icky.") But you need not scour the city for bogus notes.

You would have a duty to report those unvaccinated children who pose a serious imminent health threat, but that is not the case here, as long as their numbers remain low. Dr. Serena Yoon explains: "Of course, it's better to vaccinate everyone, but technically, you don't have to vaccinate everyone to prevent disease." If the vast majority of students are vaccinated, the school population is protected.

This is not to defend the deceitful parents. They are contemplating the obvious ethical transgression of filing false documents and, equally dubious, are being alarmists. While vaccination is not without risk, the consensus within the medical establishment is that the far greater risk is to leave children unvaccinated. It further discredits these parents that they propose to become free riders, reaping the benefits of vaccination but letting everyone else's kids bear the (admittedly slight) risk.

What's more, these folks have executed the rare triple play of being deceitful, alarmist and boneheaded: California will waive the immunization requirement if a parent is convinced it is harmful or contrary to his beliefs.

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