PCP – (Counterpoint) Parental Permission Should be Required for Vaccination

Kirsten Ehlers - 1B Biomedical
Posted on: March 13, 2019

Let’s start with a story.

Sally’s friend Sami went home sick from class one day. He was sick with measles. Sally heard there was a shot so she wouldn’t get it. Sally’s mom said no. There were too many toxins in those vaccines.

Sally wakes up the next morning with a fever. She is eight years old. She has a runny nose and a dry cough. Her mom thinks that it’s the flu so she stays home with her child. Then. Sally’s mom notices a rash. She immediately takes Sally to the doctor.

At the hospital, the doctor diagnoses Sally with measles and does everything he can. However, Sally gets a complication. She later dies from pneumonia.

Sally died from measles, a disease that was eradicated in 2000 due to a very effective vaccine program. However, it is still one of the leading causes of death in children. In 2016, 89 780 children died.

At least the toxins didn’t kill Sally though. It was just a preventable disease.

This is a real problem. There are parents out there who don’t want to vaccinate their kids against dozens of dangerous, contagious, and deadly diseases because of fake science. They’re worried about a child’s weak immune system. They’re worried about toxins. It probably won’t work anyways – why should you risk it?

Now, science proves all these misconceptions wrong. I agree that parents should be educated about vaccination but until then, what can kids do?

Kids are at the mercy of their parental beliefs. A child can get Diptheria which is just a fever and a sore throat until it’s heart problems, paralysis or death. There’s also mumps which is a headache and swollen glands until it’s meningitis, deafness, or infertility. Those are two of fourteen deadly diseases that can be prevented by vaccines.

In B.C., with the measles outbreak, there is a surge of youth getting vaccinated against the measles so they don’t die from a preventable disease like their friends. They need to make the decision now because their parents didn’t make it for them as a baby. These children are scared. In Ontario, a child must be over the age of twelve to consent to vaccination without parent approval.

What about those kids eleven and under?

I understand that serious medical decisions like experimental surgeries and treatment options should be decided by a mature parent. Treatment options have varying risks and there’s not always one right answer. A child is not old enough to make the right decision.

In the case of vaccinations, there are no arguments. Why is the decision about such a simple procedure with negligible risk at debate?

If a child wants a vaccine, they should be able to get it without parental approval. Science backs vaccines. It is proven to work. The parent shouldn’t have a choice in the matter at all.

Also, back to the analogy about serious medical treatment options. Do you know what the parents consider? The advice of the doctors. Therefore, if the parents ignore the advice of the doctors for vaccinations, should the child be able to veto their parents’ decision because they are following the advice of not one doctor but the entire scientific community.

Additionally, a parent’s refusal to vaccinate their kids is a death sentence. Shouldn’t a child have more rights to their life than a parent? Vaccination is such an easy fix.

This is a serious problem. Recently, Washington and British Colombia have been hit with serious measles outbreaks. Now, Scarborough has a confirmed case. Kids are making the smart choice and going to doctors to get vaccinated. If a parent does not give consent, does the doctors say “I’m sorry, but I can’t give you your best shot at not getting a highly contagious and fatal disease”. How is that fair to the child?

These parents are vaccinated because their parents grew up in an era where people were living in iron lungs with polio and dying from rubella. They didn’t want their kids to go through that. Today’s parents didn’t go through that. Unfortunately, today’s kids are, even though there is a perfectly sound medical option.

Now, let’s look at this objectively. If society has any hope of eradicating these infectious diseases ever again, vaccination is key. From a utilitarian perspective, it is essential to do what is better for the most amount of people. In the case of infectious disease: it’s herd immunity. So a few parents are upset about fake excuses. They’re are making the wrong choice for the general good. Thus, the doctor and the child should have the right to veto the parent’s decision and get vaccinated.

The debate is: should there really be an age limit on one’s ability to protect oneself from a preventable disease that could kill them? Should a child be at the mercy of their parent’s possibly misguided beliefs until they turn twelve?

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