Parents enjoy freedom to vaccinate their children or not

Students at Langara have vaccines as part of a Flu Shot Clinic offered by the Student Health Services and the nursing department this past week. Photo by Clare Hennig.

Reported by Clare Hennig

Several vaccine-preventable diseases like measles and whooping cough are on the rise in Canada as more people opt out of immunization according to Katharine Browne, an instructor of philosophy at Langara.

Browne, led this month’s Philosophers’ Jam, focusing on vaccinations and whether they should be mandatory. The speech also focused in on many parents who are choosing against vaccination for their children. B.C. has one of the lowest vaccination rates in comparison to eastern provinces according to the Statistics Canada website.

“People who choose not to vaccinate are in fact acting rationally,” Brown said. “I’m not claiming that they are acting morally, but it is rational.”

Sarah Carrey, mother of two school-aged children, said she likes having the choice to vaccinate her sons or not.

“They have the important ones, like tetanus and measles,” Carrey said. “But I don’t give them the flu shot … getting the flu is normal for kids.”

The November Philosophers’ Jam, hosted by Langara’s philosophy department, was led by Katharine Browne who discussed vaccinations and whether they should be mandatory. Photo by Clare Hennig

The key point, though, is that having the flu shot is a choice rather than enforced, said Alex Boston, coordinator of the talk. He said the availability of flu vaccines on campus this past week is a good example.

“They’re literally giving you access to vaccines but it’s not that a student would lose grades or not be allowed to come to Langara if they did not have vaccines,” Boston said. “It’s not a case of the government forcing anyone to take vaccines, they’re just making them very easy to get.”

Boston said he doesn’t know if that kind of enforcement would happen in Canada, but pointed out there are other laws restricting people’s freedom in the name of public safety.

“It’s about balancing individual autonomy with the collective good,” said Browne.

Hailey Clyde, a mother of a 4-year-old girl, said she lacks the desire to believe in vaccines, specifically the flu vaccine.

“If someone gets a flu vaccine shouldn’t they be protected by people who choose not to get the flu shot?” Clyde said. “I’m choosing not to vaccinate my child, it’s a choice and I should have the right to make my own.”

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