02 September 2014

I recently heard an opinion that the reason, other than the Wakefield scandal, that anti-vaccers are in their position is that they dislike government, fear authority and are looking for a platform to express that mistrust or dislike in. First let me express that most (if not all) geeks or scientists take the position that governments and big organisations are not to be trusted, the same as you.

However, using the anti-vaccine stance is a severe misplacement of expressing this distrust, and to not vaccinate is not only ignorant, but can lead to real personal and societal harm.

Vaccines are based on evidence and many scientifically controlled studies, one of the few things worth trusting. These are not for, or by governments, but often in spite of them, or viewed with indifference until they point out how many lives will be saved with these.

The thing about vaccines, is it is not just yourself you are putting at risk by refusing it. If most people are vaccinated, we develop a herd immunity, so for a few individuals such as those very young, or those with real and the very small number with genuine medically understood serious reactions to the immunisations, the herd immunity drastically reduces the possibility of the illness reaching them.

However, if there are a large portion of people, statistically significant, then this illness does have a change of reaching those who are not immune - illness like TB which is now on the rise, or measles, both of which can be fatal. This is why this is not just an individual harm, but a societal harm.

Vaccination is a societal good, and an individual good - making you immune to illnesses, and less likely to carry these illnesses and pass them around.

What about authority

There are many other ways in which authority will be causing societal harm - so if you are concerned about this, you should look to understand them. We geeks also authority and fight it.

In current affairs, the very unheard of TTIP trade agreement is a serious breach of public trust, and will bring about great societal harm.

TTIP intends to remove trade laws and services in the public good for the benefit of large corporations.

You could also fight the copyright, libel and censorship laws that are used to stifle innovation, to silence critics and to control information.

Fight policies made without evidence that are authoritarian for no good reason and contradict advice given by evidence driven experts.

We are not saying trust the politicians, we also think they are liars with their hands in the till. We are saying that this thing, the free vaccines, are worth taking, are evidence based, and politicians would be only too happy to take this away to save money if they could get away with doing so.