I immunize my children and am very glad to live in a time and place where I don’t have to send them to an early grave from vaccine-targeted diseases. At the same time, I struggle with this issue as a Catholic: Unless you can guarantee with 100% unequivocal certainty that 100% of vaccines are 100% free of serious risk, a feat that science could simply never support, then mandatory vaccination will necessarily require that children suffer or perhaps die for the Herd, “the greater good” of disease prevention, whatever you want to call it. In my mind, this is a utilitarian and cynical view of humanity that I’d think would run counter to the Catholic faith. What is an acceptable number of children to take a hit for the Herd? Is one child one too many? A handful? A hundred?
The medical exemption is available but not foolproof. What if the child reacts to the first dose, before there’s knowledge of needing an exemption? What if it’s an unexpected reaction to a subsequent dose? Maybe it’s a reaction, and maybe the child just broke into seizures (for example) coincidentally. But there are simply too many unknowns to proceed without any caution taken.
You could rightfully retort that there’s another side of the equation, the risk that children will catch and suffer or die from the vaccine-targeted disease. But that there’s risk either way seems like a reason enough to keep the government outside of such a complex risk-benefit equation.
These are important questions to ponder especially as Catholic schools are increasingly refusing to welcome students missing so much as one dose of one vaccine. I’m curious to hear thoughts on this perspective, ideally from a Catholic or other faith-based perspective.
(Keep it civil, please! I’ll be waving flags ruthlessly if things get out of hand).