Monday, April 13, 2015

"No jab, no pay"

The Australian government is removing the 'concientious objection' exemption for people who don't want their children immunised but want to continue to receive welfare benefits. This is so like the Aussies, who have a much lower regard for 'human rights' - in this case the parent's right to choose whether or not to vaccinate their child. Or at least the welfare-dependent parent.

But 'human rights' principles do not provide tidy solutions anyway. Which human's right? The parent who wants to protect their child from illness so chooses to immunise;  or the parent wants to protect their child  from possible vaccination side effects and chooses not to immunise? The latter's right impinges on the former's. There is no clear cut answer. And that is the state of the debate even before the welfare benefit aspect is introduced

After Australia makes this change (NZ has not but let's imagine it follows suit), if the state 'forces' the parent to immunise a child under threat of losing their benefit, does it bear responsibility for any bad result, however infinitesimal the odds are?

Let's think of it another way. The state also says, take that job or  lose part or all of your benefit. It could be in forestry where the risks of injury are relatively high. Does the state bear responsibility for an ensuing injury or death?

There are two answers. The first is, to an extent it does anyway, regardless of any 'compulsion' that led to the accident. It bears responsibility inasmuch as it recompenses through ACC. But this still leaves many people battling with authorities to get satisfaction.

The second is 'no'. The state does not legally bear any responsibility for 'forcing' people to take certain actions on pain of losing their benefit. Because IT DIDN"T FORCE THEM. The individual still had a choice not to work or not to immunise their child. They simply have to find an alternate source of income to furnish their decisions. That's the real world.

That's the world in which a parent who is financially independent of the state can choose not to immunise and the state cannot make them.

The debate, 'to jab or not to jab', is actually seperate. One which, again, human rights legislation cannot neatly address. But after the Australians take this step, it is a small next one to make every parent immunise their child compulsarily. Is that OK?

That is the question people really need to be grappling with.


JC said...

According to WHO..

" The two public health interventions that have had the greatest impact on the world's health are clean water and vaccines."

To the best of my knowledge this isn't a consensus but an actual proven fact and certainly I can recall the many kids in my childhood who had polio and its virtual eradication now.

So I think you start the argument with a safe assertion of the mighty health benefits of immunisation for close to 100% of the population.

Flowing on from that is the risk a population is exposed to if vaccination drops below about 80%.. the few are endangering the many and in less tolerant times would have been expelled from society or killed.

From memory Maori and Polynesian populations have now got higher immunisation rates than Europeans because of ideological objections or outdated information on the risks of immunisation. To some degree its also related to the fear that your one child is all you have and cant/wont take the tiny risk from the jab and prefer to allow the rest of the immunised population provide the safeguard of "herd immunisation".

From a strange but rational POV such people could refuse immunisation for their own child but encourage all others to take the jab to protect their own from disease.

Its also rational for the immunised to punish or threaten the non immunised in some ways.


Anonymous said...

Here is another conundrum of sorts.
Under work Place & saftey those that work out in the sun are being required to lather on the suncream and record when etc. W & S insist aka the cancer society. How ever the Cawthron Institute in Nelson recently released a study of sewerage and stated clearly that the worst nasty in sewerage was now the principal ingredient in sunscreens. We know the skin and body absorbs many of these things. Who is going to be responsible in say 20 years when peoples livers, joints, kidneys and brains are destroyed by this stuff.
Mobie won't be around to be held responsible for stupid enforced decisions.

Lindsay Mitchell said...

JC, Your comments are consistently helpful - clear, considered and concise. Any clues as to where else I might avail myself of your knowledge-based opinion?
email me if you have a mind to.

JC said...

Lindsay, I can't recall where I first read about this stuff but

gives some indications. Do a search for "threshold" to find the levels of vaccination needed to get an effective herd effect. Depending on the disease it can be as low as 50% or as high as 90%.

The citations at the bottom are useful.

I'm wrong about the ethnic breakdown.. I must have been looking at one partuclar DHB area where the Maori rate was higher than the European.. nationally the Europeans are in front with honourable exceptions like the Wairarapa.


Lindsay Mitchell said...

Actually JC I meant, in general. I only know you as 'JC' and wondered whether you blogged or wrote elsewhere (apart from comments which I see on other blogs).

JC said...


Nope, I don't have a blog and just comment.