Opinion: Mandating Flu Shots Is the Moral Choice


Opinion: Mandating Flu Shots Is the Moral Choice
By Arthur Caplan
The battle over vaccination has taken a fascinating new twist in Rhode Island, where the Department of Health has proposed a policy under which all children between 6 months and 5 years of age would have to be vaccinated against the flu before entering daycare or preschool.

The twist: Along with the usual vaccination opponents, the ACLU has joined the fight — on the critics’ side. That is the side that favors letting people get sick, miss work and even die in the name of personal choice…

…That is why the proposed policy lets parents opt out of vaccination for medical or religious reasons as long as they keep their kids at home during flu outbreaks. Surely, protecting the health of others by requiring them to be vaccinated or stay home can be justified by trying to prevent the 37 deaths of children who have already died from the flu this season. Their liberty is permanently over.

The government telling parents what to do when it comes to their children’s health is hardly new. They do it a lot — from mandating car seats to banning lead paint and requiring childproof caps on drugs and pesticides. For parents who balk when it comes to science and safety, the state has a legitimate interest in overriding bad choices that can be fatal.

Connecticut, New Jersey and New York City all have the kind of preschool flu shot mandates   Rhode Island is trying to implement. The ACLU, parents, teachers unions and all the rest of us should be doing something about this. All should be making sure Rhode Island and the rest of the nation adopt mandatory flu vaccination policies.