Vaccinate your children

On many policy issues the evidence is mixed. Vaccination is not one of those issues. I used to read about parents not vaccinating their kids in rich areas like Marin County and think that the "trend" would stop when kids started dying. But now, they are dying. From a Boston Globe article on a measles outbreak in Massachusetts,
Measles continues to spread in Massachusetts, with two new cases confirmed this week, including one involving a 23-month-old boy from Boston who had received his first measles vaccination last year, according to the Boston Public Health Commission. The other was a teenage boy from outside the city who was treated at a Boston health care facility. That brings the state total to 17 this year — and counting. In each of the previous four years, Massachusetts has had one to three cases.
Not vaccinating your child makes every other vaccination less effective - in one case cited in the article, a boy who had been vaccinated contracted the measles. I'd like to think that if the state began to prosecute parents of deceased children for manslaughter, more parents would get their children vaccinated, but I doubt it. Normally you could profit from people's misunderstandings by betting against them - in this case betting that their unvaccinated children will contract pertussis or measles, or betting that their vaccinated child will *not* become autistic, or develop pertussis anyway. But in this case unvaccinated children are already losing their lives - it's hard to raise the stakes further than the life of a child. More from Megan McArdle:
It's hard to believe, but we're sliding backwards on two of the three public health achievements of the 20th century: vaccination, antibiotics, and clean water. Antibiotic resistance is a growing problem, one that we're partly inflicting on ourselves by rampant overuse. And now vaccine resistance is spreading among parents who want to free ride on the herd immunity of others. If these diseases were widespread, they'd be rushing to vaccinate their kids. But they can delay, or forgo the vaccines entirely, thanks to other parents who are willing to risk their kids in order to do the right thing. They're already killing little babies who catch pertussis before they can be vaccinated, and now measles has killed six people in France just since the start of the year.
Please, please, vaccinate your children.

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