I wrote this in 2015 when there as a measles outbreak and the last anti-vax movement. As I read today, in the context of covid-19, of schools in Florida refusing to allow vaccinated teachers to be close to kids, as I read today of some Vancouver business people hallucinating on QAnon anti-vax nonsense, I thought it would be worthwhile to read what I had written then.
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Much of the western world appears to be suffering from a recurrence of measles, a disease that many of us had thought to have been essentially eradicated. It is a simple and undeniable fact that 99% of cases of measles can be avoided through the use of vaccination. However, some people see the potential dangers of that vaccination as worse than the disease itself; and that has created a major controversy, especially among those who are involved with public education.
I have followed this issue closely in the media and have, indeed, indulged in some conversations on Twitter about whether parents should be forced to vaccinate their children regardless of their own views. People that I usually trust have been strong advocates on both sides of the issue. This is my point of view.
As an anarchist, I cannot possibly support the idea that parents should be forced, by law, to vaccinate their children, against measles or any other disease. To support such an idea would be a complete negation of my core beliefs regarding personal freedom. That being said, the anarchism to which I aspire is not a life without rules, it is a life wherein one makes a free choice whether or not to be a member of certain groups which have their own rules. In this case, I believe that schools, community centres, libraries etc can make rules, if their members so choose, that bar unvaccinated children from their premises and their services.
The perfectly reasonable price of personal freedom of choice is the acceptance of the consequences of such choice.
In the case of measles, my suggestion is far from radical; many school boards across the country already bar unvaccinated children. Unfortunately, we have not taken that step in Vancouver. Here, we are left in the ridiculous situation where I cannot give my school-bound child a peanut butter sandwich for lunch (on the off-chance that some other kid might be allergic) but I am forced to accept that some other kid may give mine a deadly disease. That is truly bizarre.