The Stupidity of the Antivaxxers

Promoted from the diaries by streiff. Promotion does not imply endorsement.

My Republicanism is more of the libertarian — lower case libertarian, uppercase Libertarian, not so much — type. I believe in as much freedom from the control of society as is reasonably possible. Part of that means that I do believe that people have a right to not have their children vaccinated against communicable diseases, but, having said that, choosing not to have your children vaccinated is just plain stupid.


First, from The Economist:

Measles outbreaks in America are getting harder to contain

The biggest have occurred among insular religious or immigrant groups

March 9, 2019

In 2000 America declared measles “eliminated”, meaning that the virus was no longer indigenous and any new infections were linked to strains brought in from abroad. In the following decade measles in America remained rare. Now cases are on the rise again. There were 372 in 2018, the second highest number since 1996. Over 200 were reported in the first two months of this year. Though the disease is rarely deadly, it often requires hospitalisation.

Most recent large outbreaks have been in insular religious or immigrant groups, such as the Amish, Orthodox Jews and Somali-Americans. Some had been lectured or leafleted by crackpots who claim that vaccines are harmful. They are easy prey for such conspiracy theories because language and cultural barriers keep them at a distance from mainstream health care. Low vaccination rates have made them hotspots for outbreaks, often ignited by measles picked up on visits to relatives in countries where the disease is widespread.

Well, no, not quite: the largest outbreaks of measles recently have been on the left coast, where the liberal idiots in Oregon have bought into the idea that some vaccines cause autism or other problems.


Measles isn’t a particularly serious disease, but it can be fatal. The US used to see roughly 4,000,000 measles cases a year, with 50,000 requiring hospitalization, and 500 deaths. The odds of measles being serious are low, but they are not zero. It’s just more sensible to get your children vaccinated.

But this story really set me off:

It Took Two Months and Nearly a Million Dollars to Save an Unvaccinated 6-Year-Old From Tetanus

Ed Cara | March 7, 2019 | 5:54 PM

A new case report from the Centers for Disease Control released Thursday starkly highlights the costs of not vaccinating children. It details an unvaccinated 6-year-old boy’s encounter with tetanus—and the hugely expensive, two-month-long effort it took to save his life.

Tetanus is caused by the namesake bacteria Clostridium tetani. More accurately, it’s what happens when the soil-loving C. tetani gets into your body—usually through an open cut—and spews out an extremely potent toxin. This toxin can quickly paralyze and send your muscles into constant spasms, beginning with the jaw (if you know anything about tetanus, it’s probably that it causes lockjaw). These spasms can then spread to the chest, back, and gut, leading to painful fractures, problems breathing, and even the complete loss of bowel control. It’s a brutal disease, one that can take months to fully recover from. Even with treatment, 10 percent of victims ultimately die.

Thankfully, we’ve had a working vaccine for tetanus since the 1920s, and vaccination has virtually eliminated the disease in countries with decent healthcare. Most every person in the U.S. is fully vaccinated for tetanus by the time they enter school, with the first of five shots happening at the age of 2 months (booster shots every 10 years afterward are recommended). Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case for the unnamed child in this report, since his family had chosen to not vaccinate him for any condition.


The story continued to tell us that a 6-year-old boy in Oregon hurt himself on a farm, had the wound cleaned and sutured at home, but received no additional treatment. He developed tetanus, wound up being airlifted to the hospital, where he spent 47 days in intensive care, a total of 57 days in the hospital, was on a ventilator, and his medical care wound up costing $811,929, exclusive of the helicopter ride and rehabilitation.

The study author could not disclose the reasons for the family’s decision not to have their child vaccinated, due to privacy concerns, but we did get this one bit of information in the concluding paragraph:

The story ends mostly happily for the boy. A month later, he was completely back to normal, running and using his bike again. But it seems no lessons were learned on his family’s part. Despite the brutal ordeal and pleading by the doctors, they again chose not to vaccinate him for tetanus or any other diseases.

If doctors were “pleading” with the family to get their son vaccinated, that means there was no medical reason why he could not be.

So, who paid that $811,929 bill? If the family had medical insurance, that means the insurance company did, which means all of the people paying into that insurance company did. It also means that the insurance company’s costs, over an entirely preventable disease, were hit for an unnecessary $811,929, which means that premiums will eventually have to be increased for all of their customers.


If the family did not have insurance, then it means that, eventually, the taxpayers will have to foot the bill.

As we have previously noted, in the economic collapse of socialist Venezuela, polio has returned as vaccines are in short supply. In Pakistan, the Taliban have fought against having children vaccinated against polio, claiming it to be an evil plot by the Western devils. It looks to me as though the socialists want our country to become like Venezuela, and the antivaxxers are just as smart as the Taliban.

I will admit it: I’m a harsh, judgmental guy, up to the point that I have been called an [insert slang term for the rectum here] and while I can have some sympathy for those who cannot afford insurance, if the parents of this boy don’t have it, if the taxpayers are going to have to foot the bill for this, the government should seize the family’s property and sell it, including their house, their land, their cars, everything, until that $811,929 is satisfied. Turn them all out into the snow! The family can exercise its right to stupidity in refusing vaccinations, but the rest of us should not have to pay for it.

The irony of all of this is that while we don’t know about any individual set of parents, in general the antivaxxer parents were themselves vaccinated when they were children! Their parents might not have been as stupid, and went right along with the required vaccinations that were required for the public schools. It’s their children who are going to suffer from their stupidity, not themselves.


It’s simple: while the antivaxxers do have the right to refuse to have their children vaccinated, we ought to have the right to deny them public services, including allowing their children into public schools where they can put others at risk. We should deny those families Medicaid if they otherwise qualify for it, because they are sending health care costs through the roof, and private insurance companies should refuse to provide health insurance for them if they refuse to have their children vaccinated against easily preventable diseases. That they have the right to be stupid does not mean that the taxpayers should enable their stupidity.

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