Should I Have My Child Vaccinated?
I don’t need to have my child vaccinated since vaccines are risky and pretty much everyone else has their children vaccinated, so my child is not in danger.
This is a Q1 violation if you are either avoiding vaccinations for a reason other than those stated (fear of needles, for example) or you are not sincerely comparing risks.
This is likely a Q2 violation because you are relying on others to take a risk you would not be willing to take in their position. It would also be a violation if you would blame another unvaccinated child for infecting your child.
It makes sense to avoid risking your child’s health, and it is true that there are risks involved when taking vaccines. It is also true that there are risks involved in not taking vaccines, and that those risks increase as the unvaccinated population increases.
If you want to avoid as much risk to your child as possible, you can only avoid a Q1 violation by honestly weighing the risk of vaccinating vs. the risk of not vaccinating. If you do not do so, then you may not be maximizing your risk avoidance, and may be contradicting your own ethical rule.
If your present circumstances are such that there is little risk that an unvaccinated child will become infected, you must also consider the possibility that those circumstances might change. For example, might your child come into contact with a visitor from somewhere that does not routinely vaccinate children? Might your child travel to such a place later in life? If the number of people who agree with your position increases, might you reach a point where not enough children are vaccinated to protect your child?
You might argue that even if vaccinating is less risky than not vaccinating, it is more moral to do nothing than to take an action that puts your child at risk. But it is unlikely that you would use this type of argument consistently. For example, would you argue that putting a seat belt on your child is immoral because your child could become trapped if you drove into a lake, despite the fact that a seat belt could save your child’s life in a large number of far more likely circumstances?
You must also consider that by not vaccinating your child you may be putting other children at risk. There are children who cannot be vaccinated (because they have conditions that put them at high risk for severe side effects), and among those who are vaccinated are those for whom the vaccine did not work. An unvaccinated child may carry a disease even without developing symptoms of the disease, increasing the risk for those children who are not protected.
Q2 makes it very difficult to justify relying on others who are in similar situations to your own to act differently than you would act. For example, consider which of these statements violate Q2:
- "I’m sure there will be plenty of food at the potluck dinner, so I’m not going to bother bringing anything."
- "This wild rose bush is beautiful. Nobody will mind if I take home just one bloom."
- "I’m not going to bother studying for the test. It’s graded on a curve, and I’m sure nobody else is studying either."
- "We’re supposed to shower before getting in the pool at the YMCA, but I don’t see the point — the pool’s clean."
- "I wasn’t paying a lot of attention at work today, but if I missed something, someone else on the quality-control team will catch it."
- "Everyone else stops at stop signs, so I don’t really need to."
Here’s a test for Q2 violation: if you would not try to convince other people to act as you do, then odds are you are violating Q2. For example, if your child is in public school, would you want to convince all the parents at your child’s school not to have their children vaccinated? If not, you are likely on shaky philosophical ground.
You are encouraged to leave your answers to the questions posed in this post in the comments section. This post is based on an excerpt from Ask Yourself to be Moral, by D. Cancilla, available at LuLu.com and Amazon.com. See the 2Q system page for details of the philosophical system mentioned in this post.