Tags: Exclusive Interviews | MidPoint | mandatory | vaccines | hold | parents | responsbile

Ethicist: Anti-Vaccine Parents Should Pay For Harm to Others

By    |   Wednesday, 04 February 2015 06:10 PM

Parents who shun vaccinations for their children must then shield other people from possible infections — and face consequences when their actions help fuel an epidemic like the ongoing West Coast measles outbreak, a medical ethicist told "MidPoint" host Ed Berliner on Newsmax TV Wednesday.

"You can decide that you don't want to vaccinate your children," said Arthur Caplan, director of medical ethics at New York University Langone Medical Center's Department of Population Health. "Certainly states permit exemptions: Mississippi and West Virginia, only for health reasons; the other states, a combination of religious or philosophical objection.

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"But if you choose to do that, you ought to be accountable if you hurt someone, harm someone, or kill someone," said Caplan. "The law doesn't say, 'Hey, don't vaccinate and then take your kid with measles and bring them to the newborn nursery.'

"The law may say you can own a gun, but it doesn't say you can leave it on the kitchen table and invite all the neighborhood kids over for a party," said Caplan. "You have to be accountable. People who advocate for choice are not doing the right thing if they don't add responsible choice.

"If you know that your kid has been exposed to measles, or has the measles or has the flu, and you bring them places where they hurt others, you've got some legal action there," he said.

Caplan also took issue with the views of a mandatory-vaccinations critic, Louise Kuo Habakus, who appeared on Newsmax TV Tuesday.

Habakus did not repeat the discredited theory linking vaccines to autism, Caplan declared. But she did say other kinds of severe injury are more commonplace than vaccine advocates acknowledge, and shots are less effective than advertised.

She also criticized the liability exemption the federal government granted to the drugs' manufacturers, calling vaccination a windfall for pharmaceutical companies that can push their product without fear of lawsuits.

"Some people worry that this vaccination push is coming from big business, Pharma and industry," said Caplan. "I would say I only wish that were true."

In fact, he said, the medical field makes "a ton of money treating diseases," not forestalling them.

"I'd love to get them over to vaccines, putting more research and effort there, so they make more money preventing diseases," he said. "Last time I looked at the numbers, about 3 percent of the pharmaceutical industry's profits came from vaccines.

"So I'm not much moved by that criticism," said Caplan. "What I would add this: the measles vaccine is about 97 percent effective. That is one that you ought to be using, getting. It works. In the middle of this epidemic to suggest otherwise is just irresponsible."

Caplan also discussed U.K. lawmakers approving an in-vitro fertilization method incorporating DNA from three people, a step toward a future with three-parent babies.

"I hope it opens the door to genetic cures to making kids healthy," said Caplan.

He said the technique under consideration is not some eugenic designer-baby scheme to engineer taller, smarter, stronger super-humans. The three-parent DNA method is aimed at curing genetic diseases, he said.

"A cure is not an enhancement; a cure is a treatment,' said Caplan. "You've got to come up with a better reason not to do it than just fretting and saying, 'Well someday there could be genetic engineering that leads to eugenics.'"

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Parents who shun vaccinations for their children must then shield other people from possible infections — and face consequences when their actions help fuel an epidemic like the ongoing West Coast measles outbreak, a medical ethicist told "MidPoint" host Ed Berliner on Newsmax TV Wednesday.
mandatory, vaccines, hold, parents, responsbile, outbreaks
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2015-10-04
Wednesday, 04 February 2015 06:10 PM
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