If you have any doubts, I’ll be clear: the antivaccination movement is dangerous. Despite vast amounts of evidence that vaccines don’t cause autism (and a host of other ailments), and the equally vast amount of evidence that vaccination is among the greatest medical achievements in human history, a lot of people have been scared into not vaccinating their kids. This puts their children at risk, as well as children around them: many of the outbreaks of measles, pertussis, and other diseases we’ve seen in the past few years are directly due to low vaccination rates.
What can we do? Some people advocate requiring parents to vaccinate their children. This is in theory a good solution; it would drastically lower outbreaks of preventable and potentially fatal diseases. And it’s not like we have no other laws on how parents must care for their children. Almost every state requires children be in safety seats for cars, for example. And many schools require children be vaccinated before they can attend.
I’ll admit though, that the idea of requiring vaccinations bugs me. I don’t like it when the government forces me to do things for my own good, even when that good is overwhelmingly positive (like, say, seat belt use). I’ll admit this is not a completely rational reaction — more visceral, I’d say — but it’s a good indication that if we did try to pass laws requiring vaccinations, the outcry would be substantial.
But what’s the alternative?
Well, physician Rahul Parikh has an idea: raise insurance premiums for parents who don’t vaccinate their kids: