Oct 25, 2009

approaches for the affirmative for the immunization resolution

Regarding the November / December LD immunization resolution, a reader writes,
I'm having some trouble thinking of argumentation lines for the affirmative, insofar as a minority refusing a vaccine shouldn't affect the majority, because the majority has been vaccinated and is (of course, to a limited extent) immune. This is frustrating every brainstorm I have on affirmative argumentation lines. Some ideas?
Let me see if I can help you out of this self-imposed jam.

First, the "to a limited extent" is important. Vaccines don't provide 100% immunity. For some unlucky recipients, they provide no immunity at all; for others (and this number is most likely much larger), they merely reduce the severity of symptoms. So unimmunized persons are a danger even to the immunized.

Second, unimmunized persons are a danger to those who, for health reasons, simply cannot be immunized. (Of course, this also presents a dilemma for the affirmative; does "compulsory" allow any exceptions?)

Third, a minority refusing a vaccine can influence others to avoid the vaccine, decreasing "herd immunity" (which often requires a high threshold--90% or more). That's why, in recent years, outbreaks of dangerous contagious diseases have increased in areas where they were nearly a non-factor. Polio. Diphtheria. Whooping cough. All over the world, missed vaccinations are putting lives at risk.

Fourth, the risk of bioterrorism or a pandemic that might justify quarantine would probably also justify compulsory immunization in the interest of national security.

Fifth, children who would otherwise receive safe vaccinations risk dying due to their parents' unnecessary or even irrational concern.

Sixth, people who refuse vaccination are a danger to themselves; in a paternalistic political philosophy, this is grounds for intervention.

Seventh, unimmunized persons who lack insurance are a drain on public coffers.

Eighth... well, that's all I've got in ten minutes.

Readers: other ideas?


Anonymous said...

To reason 9, would making, shipping, providing the vaccine also be a drain of the publics coffers?

Jim Anderson said...

They'd have to be factored in, of course, although I'm guessing they're less than the costs of treatment (not to mention deaths caused by insufficient vaccination). For the Aff, it'd be wise to have specific stats comparing the costs of immunization vs. treatment.

Anonymous said...

What I'm attempting to establish on the affirmative side is that those who do not vaccinate harm the rest of society. There are excellent statistics regarding this point.

Anonymous said...

#8: unimmunized persons who are insured lead to an increase in insurance premiums.

Pgrabz said...

Hey Mr. A, you bring up a good point - how can i prove on the Aff that "compulsory" can mean allowing exemptions?

Jim Anderson said...

Pgrabz, I've offered an answer here. And commentator "Maestro" adds his/her take here.

daniel.at said...


See Essay #12 in "Vaccinations" At Issue Series (Intro to Gale's Publishing).

Dr. Hotez writes about how vaccines are powerful agents of ocnflict resolution and have already helped children in Africa, Central Asia, etc during the Cold War.

Basically reduce nuclear "Saber rattling" and join for a common cause - eradication of disease.

daniel.at said...

Affirmative analogy:

The government requires us to wear seat belts even though there are certainly instances under which they cause injury or death - but we still have to wear them.

Connect this to compulsory immunization + utilitarianism.

Michael said...

hey anonymous, could you post the statistics you have because i've been struggling to find good ones