Writing on CNN, pediatrician Rahul K. Parikh suggests that parents who allow the irresponsible lies of publicity-mongers like Jenny McCarthy to scare them into not vaccinating their kids should have to pay higher insurance premiums.
I think this sounds like a good start, but I'd go further: I think that kids should have to show a certificate of vaccination to use public schools -- because vaccinations don't confer resistance on all people, we have to rely on "herd immunity" (that is, a preponderance of people taking vaccination) to keep all of us safe. Here in Hackney, London, we've got live measles, whooping cough and other terrible, preventable childhood diseases in the field, thanks to this kind of fearmongering. For those of us with kids who are too young to be vaccinated, it means that other parents' uninformed fear create a health risk for our families.
Refusing to vaccinate a child is dangerous not just for that child but for entire communities. It's precisely this point a colleague of mine was considering when he had the idea that parents who refuse to vaccinate their kids should pay substantially higher health insurance premiums.
It makes sense. Insurance, after all, is just a pool of money into which we all pay. In determining how much we or our employers pay, risk is taken into account.
The perfect analogy is smoking. If you smoke -- and want to turn your lungs black and spend a greater portion of that pot of money on your possible chronic lung disease or any cancers you'll get -- then you may have to pay more.
(Thanks, Fipi Lele!)
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