Tuesday, February 22, 2011


The US Supreme Court has ruled that vaccine lawsuits can be preempted. I'm no lawyer. I know neither the law involved, nor the case involved. But here's my take on it.

As a parent, what i want is the highest chance of a good outcome for my child. No vaccines are perfect. None protect every child. Often it's just 80%. But if all children are vaccinated, then the disease has fewer places for transmission, and the all children are protected. So, vaccines protect not only my child, but all children against some dread disease. It may also harm a few, even if everything is done as well as can be done. Chances are still way better for all of the children. Having parents opt out of a vaccination program doesn't just fail to protect their kids, it also fails to protect my child. And, we're starting to see cases of dread diseases for the first time in decades. Kids now face death at much greater numbers than they did with vaccines.

It's not a perfect world. But vaccines have certainly made it better.

I'm no lawyer, and won't comment on any particular litigation. But as a society, we're smarter if we decide to protect ourselves. Is it worthwhile to compensate the one in a million harmed while protecting the million? It's a fair question. Perhaps the vaccination laws could have put in non-confrontational compensation to the few. For all i know, they did. Having been to court, i've come to this conclusion. We'd like justice, but we have the courts instead.

On the subject of protecting ourselves, there are diseases, like polio, where we vaccinate, but haven't had a case in the US for ages. It costs alot to vaccinate. But we could forego it once we've eliminated polio from the Earth, as was done for smallpox. And we could fund such an all out attack on polio, and come out ahead in just a few years. The economics make sense, even if we're all totally selfish bastards.

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