Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama gave cautious support for the anti-vaxxer cause a few years ago. No scandal.
But only now that Republican politicians Chris Christie and Rand Paul have talked about the risks of (as well as of parental rights and responsibility regarding) childhood vaccination has the issue of mandatory vaccination finally hit big.
Ronald Bailey offers a more modest proposal. “Vaccination is arguably the greatest public health triumph of the past century,” he begins. But he argues not for mandating vaccines, but for social pressure: “person-to-person shaming and shunning.”
That is one traditional (and less politically extreme) way to solve such problems.
But what is that problem, at base? Those who fear a negative personal effect from vaccination (and there are some, though the “autism” charge appears to be bogus) become “free riders,” as economists like to put it. They gain a de facto immunity without having to pay — either in money or in the small risk that vaccination does demonstrate.
This particular free rider benefit depends on the concept of “herd immunity.” That’s the conjectured level of protection for individuals who lack biological immunity by the overwhelming presence of vaccinated people in a population who are immune. (The disease can’t spread because it hits too many dead ends in healthy hosts.)
As has been often noted the last few days, though the anti-vaxxer trend has mainly tended to “infect” (as a “meme”) urban populations of left-leaning folks — epitomized by Hollywooders Jenny McCarthy and Jim Carrey — the new backlash against anti-vaxxer rights has come strongest from the left-leaning media.
The Republican “offenders” provide cover?
Apparently, those of the Democratic herd think they have immunity . . . to criticism.
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.