By Peter Chow
The raging Covid-19 pandemic reinforces the idea that our personal choices affect everybody around us. Although you have a right to your own body, your choice to willfully be sick ends where another’s right to be healthy begins.
Freedom doesn’t mean “I can do whatever I want, whenever I want.” When we choose to live in a society, there are certain obligations, both moral and legal, to which we are bound. You cannot inflict harm or infringe on the rights and liberties of those around you.
Your moral and legal obligations to the safety of others can even curtail combinations of your rights. Even though consuming alcohol and driving are both legal activities, they are not legal when performed together. Over 1,300 people die every year in Canada because people choose to exercise their “rights” inappropriately.
The exact same reasoning applies to vaccination. There is no moral difference between a drunk driver and a willfully unvaccinated person. Both are selfishly, recklessly, wilfully and knowingly putting the lives of everyone they encounter at risk. Their behaviour endangers the health, safety and livelihood of the innocent bystanders who happen to have the misfortune of being in their path.
There is one and only one legitimate reason to skip a vaccine: being immunocompromised. Some individuals, because of being on cancer chemotherapy or anti-rejection drugs, cannot receive vaccines. Other people are too young. Vaccines such as MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) cannot be administered before 12 months of age. These vulnerable people rely on the responsible actions of everyone else in society to protect them, a concept known as “herd immunity.”
Everyone who can be vaccinated should be vaccinated, in order to prevent the spread of disease. This is a protection we demand even for our pet animals: kennels will turn your dog away if they aren’t properly vaccinated and on an accepted flea treatment. There are rules we all have to play by and responsibilities we have to live up to if we want to live in a society together.
No public or private school, workplace or other institution should allow a non-exempt, unvaccinated person through their doors. A basic concern for the health and safety of others is the price it costs to participate.
It is inexcusable that society has reached this point. Many of the deadliest diseases known to mankind are due to bacteria and viruses, and dozens of them are now entirely preventable thanks to the sciences of microbiology and immunology.
But misinformation is rampant. The internet, both a blessing and a curse, has allowed devilish lies, propaganda and a discredited fraud masquerading as science to infect the minds of millions of people. Unfortunately, there’s no vaccine that can inoculate someone against a counterfactual, unscientific mindset.
The anti-vax movement, which aggressively spreads fear and misinformation about vaccines, has become a major, worldwide threat. Anti-vaxxers persist with a series of arguments for which there is no scientific evidence but that generate hesitancy among an increasing number of seemingly educated people who, due to the success of vaccination itself, have forgotten that not so long ago, children were dying from diseases such as diphtheria, polio or measles.
1. “Vaccines contain toxic substances such as aluminium and mercury or aborted fetal tissue”
In a normal day, we breathe, eat or drink 30-50 mg of aluminum, more than 20 times the maximum allowed dose in a vaccine.
Adjuvants are often necessary to boost the immune response and decrease the dose of a vaccine. Aluminum salts are not the most effective adjuvant but have been used as such for more than 80 years and in thousands of millions of doses precisely because of their safety. In a normal day, we breathe, eat or drink 30-50 mg of aluminum, more than 20 times the maximum allowed dose in a vaccine (0.85 mg).
Thimerosal is a preservative that inhibits the growth of potentially lethal bacteria or fungi. It is metabolized into ethyl mercury (which is less toxic and eliminated more rapidly) and not methyl mercury (as anti-vaxxers claim). In 2001, thimerosal was taken out of childhood vaccines while other vaccines, with the exception of the influenza shot, contain only trace amounts. Even then, we are exposed to higher amounts of mercury (69 mcg) when eating one can of tuna than with one dose of influenza vaccine (25 mcg maximum).
Formaldehyde is part of the vaccine manufacturing process and is present at residual quantities in the final product. Our body contains higher doses of circulating formaldehyde at any one time than that contained in any vaccine. In fact, there is more formaldehyde in an apple than in the Covid-19 vaccine.
The Covid vaccine does not contain any cells from aborted fetuses or other human cells.
2. “Too many vaccines can overload the child’s immune system”
Children are exposed to a greater number and amount of environmental antigens in one single day than those contained in all the vaccines combined they receive.
3. “Natural immunity is better”
For certain pathogens, naturally acquired immunity may last longer than that acquired through vaccination. However, the risk associated to a natural infection is not comparable to the risks associated to any vaccine.
Covid-19 causes 14 deaths out of 1000 infected individuals. In Sault Ste Marie, that translates to over 850 dead people. Pfizer’s trials tested 43,000 volunteers. No serious vaccine side effects were reported, with the most common problem being fatigue after the second vaccine dose, affecting about 4% of participants.
The benefit of vaccination simply far outweighs the risk.
4. “Vaccines cause autoimmune disorders, asthma, autism and allergies”
Not one single large-scale study has showed that vaccines increase the risk of autoimmune disorders or allergies.
Neither vaccines nor the components of the vaccines, thimerosal or mercury, are associated with autism: evidence-based meta-analyses have concluded that vaccinations are not associated with the development of autism or autism spectrum disorder.
This idea was proposed by a gastroenterologist, Andrew Wakefield, who was found to have falsified data for his article and ended up having his medical licence revoked. The original study should not have been published not merely because it was poorly conducted, but also because it was a product of research fraud, falsified data. The British Medical Journal described Wakefield’s work as an “elaborate fraud”. Subsequent investigative reporting revealed that Wakefield had planned to capitalize on the MMR vaccination scare provoked by his paper by forming a corporation that would profit from “litigation-driven testing”.
5. Conspiracy theories are the core of most anti-vax arguments. The most common version holds that the “medical establishment” (whoever that is) are hiding the dangers of vaccines so that they can make money.
This is utter nonsense. All of the doctors I know are motivated by a wish to cure disease. In any case, doctors make little or no money from administering vaccines. Similarly, pharmaceutical companies regard vaccines as a poor business model. Vaccines require huge development and testing costs and poor income streams. Vaccines are a one-time-use item – far more profitable to sell pharmaceuticals for chronic diseases that patients will have to take every day for the rest of their lives.
It is easy to treat belief in conspiracy theories lightly, but studies show that concern about conspiracy theories is warranted.
When you search the word “vaccine” on Instagram, the app recommends dozens of anti-vaccine accounts in its top results. Accounts with names such as “Vaccines_revealed,” “Vaccinesuncovered,” “vaccines_kill_”, “vaccinesaregenocide_”, #billgatesisevil, #chemtrails, #coronahoax, #5Gkills, “WakeUpSheep” and “say no_to_bill_gates_vaccine” are front and center.
A conspiracy theory about vaccines that has spanned the globe claims that the coronavirus pandemic is a cover for a plan by the “globalist” Microsoft founder Bill Gates and the “Zionist” George Soros to implant trackable microchips in everyone, so the “Deep State” in the government can track and control us.
There is no room for discussion with such wilfully deluded individuals.
Underlying any successful social order are rules that will impose limits on individual behaviour. All rules serve to limit freedom of action. However, when rules are applied generally they can, by limiting the actions of each in predictable ways, expand the freedom of all.
So maybe this horrible virus, with its terrible human toll, may wake us up to the fact that with every individual right comes collective responsibility. Surely we would all be better off if that were true.
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