Finishing Offit’s Vaccine Course

04 Nov

ImageI just finished up Paul Offit’s Vaccines course offered for free through I found this course to be an excellent introduction to the science and history of vaccines which anyone could benefit from regardless of their background. This is particularly important because the act of having children has such a low barrier to entry, yet it immediately puts one in the position to be responsible for another’s life.

I highly recommend this course to anyone who is interested in vaccines, interested in immunology, interested in disease, has children, might have children in the future and really anyone who wants to take their citizenship in the world seriously.

The last lecture on vaccine exemptions was especially informative to me as it discussed not only the current trend in vaccine refusal, but also explored the historical and legal history. Listening to this lecture reminded me of a question that has always bubbled on the back burner of my mind: What are the legal ramifications of vaccine refusal for the physicians who care for these patients? My feeling is that allowing parents to elect to refuse vaccines for their children is akin to asking their doctor to practice sub-standard medicine, something that is often prosecuted in malpractice cases.

ImageConsider the case of Typhoid Mary, who spread her eponymous disease through preparing baked goods in New York. When she was finally tracked down, she was forced to become “quarantined on North Brother Island in a tiny cottage separated from Manhattan by the East River.” Her freedom was certainly infringed upon for the good of the public. Was this a reasonable course of action by the authorities?

I haven’t read this book yet having just discovered in today, but I will be looking into it shortly.Image

You can explore this topic more in Christine Vara’s article here or read Art Caplan’s article on a much more recent case here.


Posted by on November 4, 2013 in Uncategorized


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2 responses to “Finishing Offit’s Vaccine Course

  1. Mehron

    November 4, 2013 at 4:19 pm

    Our pediatrician won’t see children whose parents refuse all vaccines (I’m not sure which ones they can refuse or if they are allowed follow an alternative schedule and remain a patient). I agree with this policy, but I wonder if it means that those children aren’t receiving proper medical attention otherwise. Where do those parents take their children? Regardless, I’m happy knowing that our Doctor’s office waiting room might be a less dangerous place for our two month old daughter or those who can’t be vaccinated for other reasons.

    What do you think about this one? Ohio Hospital Can Force Chemo on Amish Girl, Court Says

  2. downhousesoftware

    November 4, 2013 at 10:23 pm

    Thanks for the article, Mehron. It is interesting. The state certainly doesn’t like getting involved in raising children, but under some circumstances, it does step in to protect them even if it is against the will of the parents.
    If the parents had been physically abusing the child, no one would question that the state had an obligation to protect her. Is this chemo case different? What is the odds for survival were only 25%?Vaccines are even more difficult to swallow because the odds of contracting a communicable disease are very low if there is sufficient herd immunity.


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