Vaccination and Freedom of Choice

20 Apr

When it comes to having our core beliefs challenged in any way, we are prone to resistance. After all, we have not come to our position in life without good reason. The decisions we make and the actions we take are the result of hard earned experience and we are loyal to that experience and what it has taught us.

So when we are ‘challenged’ by new ideas about how to solve our problems and about what decisions to make, it is very difficult to look at the options presented to us, dispassionately. Whether it is political, social, medical, environmental, cultural or spiritual – we have come a long way to the stand we now make. When confronted with ‘new’ material, or challenged about our well established beliefs, we are immediately tempted to dig in and defend what we feel is an offensive attack on that which we have come to believe is RIGHT!

Over the last couple of weeks I have been involved with exploring the pros and cons of the stance on the validity of using vaccines. I am very interested in following debate on this issue in order to become more informed. Unfortunately, much of what I read and hear, is less an informed debate than an emotionally driven bun-fight. People – and experts – are so polarised in their thinking and argument that there is very little wiggle-room for any consideration of an opposing view-point. Facts and studies quoted on one ‘side’ are being ‘disproved’ by those on the other. This is where all of the energy is being spent – on discrediting, or outright denying, any credibility anywhere. We ordinary people interested in exploring these alternative views in order to make an informed choice, who must trust the findings of the scientific community, find we don’t know who to believe. No one is coming together with commonalities and asking questions for proper research to clarify any issues. If an issue is unclear then it is ‘wrong’. And if it opposes it is also ‘wrong’, therefore it must also be unclear.

Most of us wish to do no harm. We also wish to uphold freedom of choice – provided that choice does no harm. And here lies the paradox. Those on one side of the debate strongly believe that those who do not take advantage of the ‘miracle of vaccination’ are harming those who do, while those who believe differently think that the others are the ones doing the harm. Both camps believe their stance justifies the removal of choice for the other. And those of us who just want to know facts are given emotionally charged opinions based on selective scientific ‘findings’ we have no hope of verifying for ourselves.

When we understand both sides of an argument and feel we can empathise with people on both sides, we can be seen as hypocritical fence sitters. We have what is called ‘cognitive dissonance’ which is stress created by being unable to make up our minds and make a decision when the old paradigms are challenged. Often we make it easier on ourselves by going with what we’ve always done, or agreeing with our friends. And we find ourselves in ‘defense’ mode.

Me? I would love to see a series of properly run global public debates by adherents of both arguments and any questions of research being undertaken by independent laboratories and analysts who have no conflict of interest whatsoever, transparently presenting results and conclusions with no advantage gained in the outcome. Let us rally for ‘Truth’ rather than ‘Right or Wrong’ – they are only an opinion – or a judgement!

The question of the freedom to choose has to be paramount. If it comes down to groups of people being denied their right to choose, there must be no doubt whatsoever that their choice would do harm and the other does not. Until then, there is far too much unresolved controversy to allow the law to mandate vaccination for all based on the great wriggling pile of judgemental worms on which both camps are trying to stand. I believe that this is the possibility we must do our utmost to avoid.

There is no doubt that vaccinations can eliminate diseases – but is there a price? Some would say so. They need a fair hearing and we need to know.




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