Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Individual decisions that lead to Community Public Health Risks

Aside from clean water and sanitation, Vaccines have played one of the most important roles in the health of individuals by allowing people to survive, live longer and heather lives. Vaccines against measles, whooping cough, tetanus, polio, mumps, rubella, and so much more have saved the lives of generations. In developed countries, these diseases are vaguely known or understood by name, and very few people now a days (for example, my generation) have had any sort of direct experience with them. Even though vaccines have provided developed societies to "defeat" many of these child killers, some families are chosing to not vaccinate their children. Yet, in developing countries, the life long implications of some of these disease, such as polio, are apparent since individuals from older generations may show symptoms of paralysis from having the disease as a child. In these countries, the question of getting the vaccine for your child or not simply comes down to the availability and cost of the vaccines.

Though meals was almost completely eradicated from the US, recent outbreaks are causing children to become extremely ill. The New York times journalist Donald McNeil shows how a historical study by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention  released in November 2007, death rates for 13 diseases that can be prevented by childhood vaccinations were at all-time lows in the United States. In 9 of the diseases, the rates of hospitalization and death declined over 90%. For small-pox, diphtheria and polio the death rates had dropped by 100 percent. Unethical scientists began false accusations of detrimental mental effects of vaccines (i.e. autism). In recent years, vaccines have become a hot-button topic among parents. In one community, 12 children fell ill; nine of them had not been inoculated against the virus because their parents objected, and the other three were too young to receive vaccines. Should the parents who decided not to vaccinate their children be accountable for the underage children who got the virus from contact with the unvaccinated children? If health is a human right, then should society hold individuals accountable for harming the people (or in this case, children) around them due to their decisions? The government's main role is to protect the public. Individuals must be held accountable for public Health risks that they impose on society by the choices they make.


chartran said...

I couldn't agree more. Liberty to make your own choices, both for you and for your family, is - I think - an essential human right, but when your choices have impacts (especially demonstrably negative ones) on other people, you have to be held accountable. The government - as you say - has a responsibility to protect its people. This means enforcing proven methods of protecting public health, even if that denies someone's ability to make a choice. That choice is no longer personal - it's a choice that harms other people, and it's one that you shouldn't be allowed to make.

HumanRightsAdvocate23 said...

I wonder what your views are on abortion.