Vaccinating your kids: Is it up to you or up to the government?

Shown are measles outbreaks worldwide, in purple, and whooping cough outbreaks in the United States, in green. The anti-vaccination movement has helped fuel the spread of the diseases.
(Council on Foreign Relations)

The topic of whether childhood vaccinations are a matter of public concern or a private family decision continues to be an issue that stirs a great deal of passion, sometimes becoming a heated blur of dueling science studies and emotional arguments.

This week, Los Angeles Times columnist Michael A. Hiltzik wrote about a map detailing the recent effect of the spreading anti-vaccination movement. His conclusion: “The lesson of all this is that vaccination is not an individual choice to be made by a parent for his or her own offspring. It’s a public health issue, because the diseases contracted by unvaccinated children are a threat to the community.”

This is a perspective that is affirmed by the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Readers have responded passionately with their own perspectives across our social media channels.


A commenter on the story, “Nachtvogel,” asks, in reference to vaccination opponents, “How many deaths by previously controlled diseases is on their heads? The blood on their hands will never wash off, and they don’t care.”

On the flip side, commenter “J_Bishop” believes that countries such as the U.S. are paying “high costs” for employing vaccinations. “It’s time to study what we’ve done in tripling the U.S. infant vaccine schedule and try to find out what toll vaccinations have always had so we can honestly make and individually tailor healthy choices.”

A heated debate continues on our Facebook page, with followers such as Joseph Bornstein supporting the public health argument. He writes, “As long as your kids have to mix with mine, it’s public concern. If you want to keep them quarantined for life on an island, do whatever you wish.”

However, there were also numerous responses to that stance along the lines of what Lisa Collins writes. “Why are the vaccinated worried about the unvaccinated? If the vaccinations work then they have no worry. Right?”

Over on our Google+ page, commenter William Pittenger, who says he doesn’t trust the government and states that he believes immunization is a family decision, takes a harder stance about disease, in general. “I’m sorry, but I’m not trying to be mean, or hurtful. However, the purpose of the disease is to weed out the weak and strengthen the stronger ones for survival. It sounds rather ‘evolutionary,’ but it’s nature.”

We want to hear from you. Should the discussion about vaccinations involve just the family or the community? Sound off here.

Twitter: @mmaltaisLAT