Victims, vectors and villains: are those who opt out of vaccination morally responsible for the deaths of others?

J Med Ethics 2016; 42:762-768
Authors: Euzebiusz Jamrozik, Toby Handfield, Michael J Selgelid
“Mass vaccination has been a successful public health strategy for many contagious diseases. The immunity of the vaccinated also protects others who cannot be safely or effectively vaccinated—including infants and the immunosuppressed. When vaccination rates fall, diseases like measles can rapidly resurge in a population. Those who cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons are at the highest risk of severe disease and death. They thus may bear the burden of others’ freedom to opt out of vaccination. It is often asked whether it is legitimate for states to adopt and enforce mandatory universal vaccination. Yet this neglects a related question: are those who opt out, where it is permitted, morally responsible when others are harmed or die as a result of their decision?”
Find article here.

Public Health Law and Institutional Vaccine Skepticism

Journal of Health Politics, Policy and Law 2016 Volume 41, Number 6: 1137-1149
Author: Efthimios Parasidis
“Vaccine-hesitant parents are often portrayed as misinformed dilettantes clinging to unscientific Internet chatter and a debunked study that linked the MMR vaccine and autism. While this depiction may be an accurate portrayal of a small (but vocal) subset, scholars have unearthed a more complex picture that casts vaccine hesitancy in the context of broader notions of lack of trust in government and industry. At the same time, commentators have highlighted limitations of the vaccine injury compensation program and US Supreme Court Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg have argued that preemption laws that provide vaccine manufacturers with broad legal immunities create “a regulatory vacuum in which no one ensures that vaccine manufacturers adequately take account of scientific and technological advancements when designing or distributing their products.”
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Victims, Vectors and Villains? Are those who opt out of vaccination morally responsible for the deaths of others?

BMJ Blogs, 11 October 2016
Authors: Euzebiusz Jamrozik, Toby Handfield, Michael J Selgelid
“Our recent article in the Journal of Medical Ethics argues that imposing risks of infection on others without good justification is morally blameworthy–and that individuals who opt out of vaccination are thus morally responsible for resultant harms to others. In defence of this thesis we address numerous important questions, and our answers may have significant implications for public health policy.”
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Vaccine Refusal Revisited — The Limits of Public Health Persuasion and Coercion

N Engl J Med 2016; 375:1316-1317
Author: James Colgrove
“Many scientific, ethical, and political challenges that physicians and public health officials face today in dealing with vaccine refusal would be familiar to their counterparts of past eras. Their task entails balancing the use of coercive and persuasive approaches.”
Find abstract here.

No Jab, No Pay — no planning for migrant children

Med J Aust 2016; 205 (7): 296-298.
Authors: Georgia A Paxton, Lauren Tyrrell, Sophie B Oldfield, Karen Kiang and Margie H Danchin
“The Social Services Legislation Amendment (No Jab, No Pay) Act 2015 (Cwlth) was passed in November 2015, closing the conscientious objection exemption to immunisation requirements for family assistance payments. The intention was to reinforce the importance of immunisation and protect public health, especially for children. While these aims are sound, there are far-reaching, presumably unintended, consequences for migrant and refugee children.”
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US doctor accused of making children’s vaccines from cat saliva and vodka

The Guardian, 29 September 2016
Source: Associated Press
“Regulators have suspended the license of a doctor in Chicago who allegedly gave patients modified vaccinations containing cat saliva and vodka. The Illinois department of financial and professional regulation ordered the emergency action in the interest of public safety. Despite his unapproved methods, the doctor is accused of signing state forms certifying he had given paediatric patients their conventional shots.”
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Vaccine skeptic pediatrician is charged with gross negligence

BMJ 2016;354:i5027
Author: Owen Dyer
“A pediatrician who has linked vaccines to autism and written a bestselling parents’ guide that proposes an “alternative” vaccine schedule faces potential loss of his license over his care of a patient. Robert Sears wrote a doctors’ letter for a 2 year old boy recommending “no more routine childhood vaccines for the duration of his childhood.” But the Medical Board of California said that he had not properly examined the child and gave no clinical evidence or explanation to justify the exemption.”
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Dr. Bob Sears Could Lose License For Medical Negligence — Not Vaccine Choice

Forbes, 11 September 2016
Author: Tara Haelle
“Some of the biggest news in the medical and vaccine worlds right now is that southern California pediatrician Bob Sears is at risk of losing his medical license for exempting a toddler from all vaccines for the rest of his childhood without adequately documented medical reasons. And if that were the only thing you knew about Sears — or about the complaint — it may seem a relatively minor offense.”
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As More Parents Refuse Vaccines, More Doctors Dismiss Them — With AAP’s Blessing

Forbes, 29 AUgust 2016
Author: Tara Haelle
“The tides are shifting for parents who delay or refuse vaccines and the doctors who treat them: More pediatricians are seeing more vaccine refusals, and more pediatricians are pushing back. But now, those doctors pushing back have a bit more support from the American Academy of Pediatrics.”
Find article here.

A libertarian case for mandatory vaccination

J Med Ethics doi:10.1136/medethics-2016-103486
Author: Jason Brennan
“This paper argues that mandatory, government-enforced vaccination can be justified even within a libertarian political framework. If so, this implies that the case for mandatory vaccination is very strong indeed as it can be justified even within a framework that, at first glance, loads the philosophical dice against that conclusion. I argue that people who refuse vaccinations violate the ‘clean hands principle’, a (in this case, enforceable) moral principle that prohibits people from participating in the collective imposition of unjust harm or risk of harm.”
Find abstract here.