Some people seem so wrapped up in their private rights these days they overlook the fact that the Public Good can override personal beliefs.
For example – Do you have a right to decide what goes into your body by way of medical treatment ?
Except where refusal of medical treatment would endanger the well- being and lives of others in our community – as in the case passing on an infectious diseases.
For example – The Health (Infectious and Notifiable Diseases Regulations 1966) at para 20 states:
“The Medical Officer of Health may at any time—
(a)require any person who in his opinion has been recently exposed to the infection of smallpox to be forthwith vaccinated or revaccinated, or, if the person is a child, may require the parents or guardians to have such child forthwith vaccinated or revaccinated.”
Why did our law makers decide such innoculations should be compulsory? Because it has proved to be an effective way of completely getting rid of at least a couple of diseases out of our country.
Most people in New Zealand would not remember a time when Polio (poliomyelitis) was rampant throughout Aotearoa .
It is an acute viral disease affecting the spinal cord and nervous system that typically a disease of children and young people . It can cause partial or complete paralysis of limbs or the entire body. If patients survived they often had to wear calipers and use crutches for the rest of their lives so they could walk. (See photo above)
Baby boomers who went to school in New Zealand will remember the compulsory inoculations against polio when we all lined up to get the jab. As a result Polio has disappeared from our country.
So the irony is that today’s ant- vaxxers are only free from the agony of terrible diseases such Smallpox and Polio, because previous generations were compulsorily innoculated.
So enough with the civil rights arguments.
When it comes to infectious diseases ( of which Measles is one) the rights of others quite rightly supercede your own individual beliefs – for the Public Good.
PS. To every rule there are always exceptions. If you or your child are in a rare category where innoculation would cause severe risk to life, this is something you should discuss with your doctor and The Medical Officer Of Health. My understanding is that if everyone else (who is a healthy candidate) is innoculated then you and/or your child is less likely to catch the infection in question.
Bryan Bruce is one of NZs most respected documentary makers and public intellectuals who has tirelessly exposed NZs neoliberal economic settings as the main cause for social issues.