A reader wrote this in response to last month’s Opinion Piece:
Mr. Lundstrom makes a few good points in his essay, but I wonder how many of us may never have been here if mandatory polio and tuberculosis vaccines had not been received by our parents. I would bet that, if choice were left to individuals, those diseases would still be a worldwide scourge. We still cannot get rid of polio and TB entirely, only because some pockets of the world population are not vaccinated.It’s long been a Libertarian principle that one’s freedom extends only to the point that it endangers others. Sure, I object to the government being involved in personal health matters, but too many people are allowing their stubbornness to make them idiots.
In lieu of a regular Opinion Piece I am printing Mr Lundstrom’s response:
I share your positive feelings about the Polio and Tuberculosis vaccine. I have been a member of Rotary for a couple of years now, and volunteered with them as a student even longer, and am proud of the thousands of dollars that I have raised and donated to making the Polio vaccine more available in the few remaining countries. Though, unfortunately, it is politics, governments, and wars preventing the last few regions from getting vaccinated. With that said, the polio and tuberculosis vaccines were never mandatory. It is also not the case that the tuberculosis vaccine prevents spread. Even if everyone had the vaccine for it, it would not stop the disease: https://www.who.int/teams/health-product-policy-and-standards/standards-and-specifications/vaccines-quality/bcg With regard to our liberties stopping when it endangers others, that is true. However, the burden of proof is on the side who is trying to limit freedoms, and they have not met that burden. The current Covid 19 vaccines appear to have mixed effects on the spread of the disease, especially after a few months pass and as new strains appear among countries like India that are not scheduled to be fully vaccinated before 2024. On top of that, countries that have been heavily vaccinated (such as Israel or Switzerland) how now seen large spikes in the disease. That is not to say that the vaccine is not effective at protecting individuals from harm, but if the claim is that getting vaccinated protects others, there is much less evidence to support that, and you need to meet a high standard of proof to violate someone’s bodily autonomy. Beyond that, if the goal was to increase vaccination rates, I think that the answer would be pretty clear, and would be the same pathway walked by the polio vaccine before: tell the truth, address arguments openly, and actually follow the science. This whole pandemic has been a case study in officials lying to the public, and many of those lies have latter been admitted. On top of that, experts with legitimate questions and arguments have been suppressed by the media and social media. It is reasonable for people to doubt what the government is saying when they refuse to answer experts in vaccinology asking why people who have already been infected with Covid have to get vaccinated anyways (especially since many countries with a vaccine mandate actually do have that exception) https://onedrive.live.com/?authkey=%21ADfHk3IuaBrEH34&cid=914431B73799994E&id=914431B73799994E%2176735&parId=914431B73799994E%2173522&o=OneUp Finally, I don’t think that our philosophy is perfect or will bring about a utopia. We can only act within our limited knowledge of the world. But what I can say with high confidence at this point is that the lock downs have brought about more avoidable deaths from poverty (starvation, cholera, indoor air pollution, etc.) than Covid would kill even if it infected the whole world. Yet, when that was going on, discussion was repressed and a policy was mandated. I don’t know for sure what the best thing for us to do going forward is, but given the track record, I am very heavily leaning towards informing people and helping them rather than mandating and forcing them. My original piece was about the track record of mandated government interventions, and given that the polio and BCG vaccines were not mandated, I still do not know of an example in the last 100 or so years of US history where people were mandated to do something and there was a positive result.
Drake Lundstrom, FCLPO Vice-Chair