The Instigator
ledgy
Pro (for)
Losing
0 Points
The Contender
larztheloser
Con (against)
Winning
8 Points

Resolved: State Mandated Administration of Childhood Vaccinations is Justsified

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 2 votes the winner is...
larztheloser
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 4/16/2012 Category: Health
Updated: 4 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 4,196 times Debate No: 22801
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (9)
Votes (2)

 

ledgy

Pro

According to the Centers for Disease Control, "Universal vaccination is a critical part of quality health care and should be accomplished through routine and intensive vaccination programs."

We strongly affirm the resolution, "Resolved: State mandated administration of childhood vaccinations is justified." This is because of justice, righteousness, and reasonability. Before I begin, I would like to make one preliminary observation: the PRO is not obligated to prove that state mandated administration of childhood vaccinations should be implemented into any past, current, or future system of government, merely that they are justified.
I would also like to define a few key terms. I would like to define state as a politically organized body of people, mandate as to formally order or command, and justified as an action that is shown to be just, right, or reasonable all according to Merriam-Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary.
Through these definitions, we still allow for society to keep its free will and allow for exemption. The government will mandate the vaccination program to ensure that those who wish to be vaccinated receive the vaccination while those opposed and provide reasonable grounds to be exempt, can be. This would include philosophical, religious, and physical exceptions.

Our first contention is that mandated vaccinations are reasonable. Before I begin, I would like to introduce an important concept: utilitarianism. Utilitarianism is a philosophical theory, which justifies actions or events based on the greatest good for the greatest number of people. Firstly, vaccinations themselves improve the safety of the individual and the public. According to a 2003 report by researchers at the Pediatric Academic Society, childhood vaccinations in the US prevent about 10.5 million cases of infectious illness and 33,000 deaths per year. About 30,000 cases of adverse reactions to vaccines have been reported annually to the federal government since 1990, with 13% classified as serious, meaning associated with permanent disability, hospitalization, life-threatening illness, or death. Next, mandated vaccinations are beneficial towards the safety of the individual and of the public. Without mandated vaccinations, it would be highly difficult or impossible to reach herd immunity, a situation in which a sufficient proportion of a population (roughly 85%) is immune to an infectious disease to make its spread from person to person unlikely. Currently, according to the most recent National Immunization Survey from the Centers for Disease Control, only 70.2% of children 19-35 months are vaccinated against 23 key illnesses. Clearly, herd immunity is not being reached voluntarily. Also, without mandated vaccinations, health and safety issues arise. Even if a disease does not severely harm an unvaccinated person, they still have the potential to pass the disease on to another, possibly killing them. The risks of not being vaccinated far outweigh the small risks associated with vaccination. Clearly, mandated vaccinations improve overall safety and health, and are therefore justified.

Our second contention is that mandated vaccinations are right. Every government in the world has a moral obligation to protect the rights and safety of its citizens. However, every government must infringe upon the lives of the individual in order to maintain national security and freedom. This is known as a social contract, in which individuals unite into political societies by a process of mutual consent, agreeing to abide by common rules and accept corresponding duties to protect themselves and one another from violence and other kinds of harm. John Locke argued in Second Treatise of Government that "…individuals would agree to form a state that would provide a "neutral judge", acting to protect the lives, liberty, and property of those who lived within it." He then postulated, "the government thus acts as an impartial, objective agent of that self-defense." Since we have already proven that vaccinations are not only beneficial to society, but that not vaccinating is directly detrimental towards society, the government has an obligation to mandate vaccinations and is justified in doing so. Since not vaccinated citizens pose an immediate and dangerous threat to the remainder of the population, mandated vaccinations qualify as self-defense. According to the social contract, mandated vaccinations are justified because of a duty to the society.

Our final contention is that mandated vaccinations are just. Courts have repeatedly upheld compulsory vaccination laws in the United States as a reasonable exercise of the state's police power, even in the absence of a disease outbreak. Such laws survive constitutional challenge even in cases where they conflict with the religious beliefs of individuals. In the first such case, Jacobson v. Massachusetts, the Supreme Court ruled that: "the liberty secured by the Constitution of the United States to every person within its jurisdiction does not import an absolute right in each person to be, at all times and in all circumstances, wholly freed from restraint." John Stuart Mill in On Liberty wrote "The only purpose for which power can rightfully be exercised over any member of a civilized community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others. His own good, either physical or moral, is not sufficient warrant." Therefore, the government serves justice when preventing citizens from immediate threats (unvaccinated citizens). Clearly, mandated vaccinations are justified because of justice.

In conclusion, since we have proven that mandated vaccinations are reasonable, right, and just, they are justified.
larztheloser

Con

I seem to be doing a lot of medical debates recently, but this one caught my attention. It is my firm belief that state mandated administration of childhood vaccinations, as my opponent proposed it, is a complete waste of time.

The key flaw in my opponent's model is the ability to opt out given ANY argument, no matter how unconvincing, so long as it is valid. For instance, "I believe in the religion of nonvaccionism, so I don't want my kid getting a vaccination" would be a valid excuse for somebody who doesn't understand the science of vaccinations. Also, "I don't have the time" would be permissable as a "physical" exemption, because of course if you don't have the time you can't physically get a vaccination. I'll demonstrate why this is a problem with reference to my opponent's own arguments.

My first contention is that it's not up to us to decide if vaccinations are reasonable or justified. My opponent and I both agree that this should instead be left up to the individual, and thanks to my opponent's opt-out clause, it is. Since we're dealing with minors here, the consent process (in this case, consent not to have a vaccination) would not be given by the patient but by their legal caregivers. These are the people we trust to make the best decisions on the children's behalf in virtually every aspect of their lives, so we can reasonably trust that the vast majority of them will probably make a highly informed decision. They're making these kinds of decisions right now under the status quo. Parents aren't like "here's my baby, stick whatever medicines into him you want to", they seek out all the relevant information. They'll do that whether the model is accepted or not. So assume you're a parent who wants to give their kids a vaccination. Under the status quo, you'd give your kids a vaccination. Under my opponent's model, your kids will be given a vaccination. So there's no difference there. Now assume you're a parent who doesn't want to give their kids a vaccination. Under the status quo, you'd not give your kids a vaccination. Under my opponent's model, you'd exempt them from giving them a vaccination. If my opponent's case is that herd immunity is not being reached voluntarily, then proposing a voluntary model definitely won't solve the problem.

My second contention is that there is no right to mandated vaccinations. That's because no government in this world is, or can ever be, a John-Locke-utopia. Governments in reality enact policy until they are overthrown by people. The problem with a John-Locke-utopia is that, like Karl Marx's socialism, it implies a commonality or accepted philosophy among all the people in that society - everyone working for the common good, not their own. Karl Marx envisioned a neutral state in exactly the same way as Locke, but Marx actually tried to make it practically workable. Of course, anybody who knows the history of communism will know that it didn't practically work. Even if the world was so utopian, however, the fact that your own model has an opt-out clause implies that it isn't. If everyone agreed to one social contract - we'll all value our longetivity forevermore - then things would be different. With such a large proportion of the world smoking, however, I think you'll find that's not what happens - there is no social contract. Furthermore, non-vaccinated people pose no threat to vaccinated people, because they're vaccinated. Once you have a vaccine you can't get the desease, that's the whole point. So the whole idea is false that you're "doing harm to others" by not vaccinating.

My third contention is that there is no justice in simply asking lawyers whether something is just or not. Seriously. Every single person pro cites in this paragraph was a lawyer at some stage. The fact is that with an opt-out clause, you're making all these opinions meaningless. You're telling them that the state cannot mandate vaccinations, only they can shift the burden of proof from one group of parents to the other. In law there's an idea called precedent - future laws should conform to past decisions. If my opponent is going to use the precedent of US case law and philosophy, why is his model inconsistant with it?

I'm going to add another three contentions. Not everyone is as liberal as I am, and some people just resent being forced to do anything. If you force them to do something, instead of asking them nicely, they're likely to not co-operate. This is true even if you're not actually forcing them to do something, such as in this model. The perception that the government is using public policy to control people's personal lives won't jar well with this "libertarian" crowd, and you bet that they'll reduce the number of vaccinations they give their kids for precisely this reason. Less vaccinations is bad, even from a utilitarian perspective.

The second contention is that there's no recourse. Pretend I flouted the law and didn't give up my kids for vaccination or give a proper excuse. What will the authorities do? There's two ways they can find out - if my child gets sick (in which case it's too late), or by checking every single child for every single vaccination. That's a mammoth administrative task. And if you take the parents to court, they'll simply say (through their lawyers) "my children shouldn't have a vaccination, it's in their best interest, but I couldn't think of a reason why. I am obliged as a parent to do what's best for my children, and thus found this law irreconcilable with my legal obligations as this child's guardian". That's thee sort of legal case that can only result in one of the two being struck down (or in systems where this is not allowed, in the judge making an arbritrary ruling, which doesn't help anyone) - and you bet parenthood will beat mandated vaccinations any day. This makes the law a total waste of time.

The third contention is which vaccinations this law applies to. My opponent wasn't very specific, but he mentioned the 23 key illnesses. 23 vaccinations is actually a lot. Most of the vaccinations on the list have been around for less than a few decades. Scientists cannot even be sure that they are safe in the long term. When I was a child, I was given a minimum of vaccinations. By some strange coincidence, my preschool was hit by a spectacular outbreak of glue ear. It affected every single child except me. And every single other child had at least twice as many vaccinations as I did. I'm not saying vaccinations should be avoided outright - I'm saying that this law applies even to very new vaccinations that cannot reasonably have undergone sufficient long-term scientific testing.

I look forward to a good debate and wish my opponent the best of luck.
Debate Round No. 1
larztheloser

Con

I hope that was a mistake and not a concession. In any event it's not great conduct to post nothing of value so that you can have an extra three days for your argument. I hope pro learns for this mistake, and I look forward to reading their argument next round.
Debate Round No. 2
ledgy

Pro

So sorry that I missed the last round, it was a genuine mistake. I hope that voters will not consider my mistake an attempt at cheating or forfeiting and I hope that voters will judge this debate mostly on the content of our arguments.
Thanks you.

Moving on, I will provide rebuttals to my opponent's observation and contentions

At the beginning of his/her argument, my opponent claims several untrue things. First of all, my opponent states that everyone has the ability to provide any argument against vaccination, so long as it is valid. This may be true, but it does not mean that everyone will refuse. Many people will be informed that childhood vaccinations are mandated, will consider their choices, and choose to vaccinate as opposed to filling out forms so they can be exempt for beliefs that they do not necessarily believe in. Vaccinations are easy to administer, so most people should have no trouble vaccinating their children. Since every child is required by law to go to school, and since public school offer vaccinations to students and facility, it would simply be a matter of sending your child to school. Parents who make up religions or beliefs in order to avoid vaccinations are entitled to do so, but these "free-riders" will not impact society as a whole - herd immunity will still be reached.
In my opponent's first contention, he argues that consent process should be left up to the legal caregivers of minors. I fail to see how this argument impacts my case. Even under a government mandated, the caregivers still have the ability to decide what vaccinations to give to their children. Government vaccinations aim to increase herd immunity and the safety, not to infringe upon the rights of the individual. Every legal caregiver (and therefore every minor) has the right to choose, provided they supply sufficient reason. Therefore, my opponent's first contention is void.

In his/her second contention, my opponent argues that "no government in this world is, or can ever be, a John-Locke-utopia." I once again agree with my opponent in that sense - no government can ever be perfect. Voltaire once said "The perfect is the enemy of the good" and can be applied to vaccinations. Just because we will never achieve a utopia does not mean that we cannot advance our societies. Just because we will never eradicate all disease does not mean we cannot save lives. The point of a mandate is not to make everyone do something - even my opponent agreed with this -, but rather to achieve the most good for the most number of people. Vaccinating everyone is not only unreasonable, but impossible. However, as I have stated over and over again, we cannot let perfect be the enemy of better. Even if not everyone is vaccinated, herd immunity will still be reached. In the final part of my opponent's contention, s/he argued that "non-vaccinated people pose no threat to vaccinated people, because they're vaccinated. Once you have a vaccine you can't get the desease, that's the whole point. So the whole idea is false that you're "doing harm to others" by not vaccinating." While vaccinated people cannot become sick from unvaccinated people, there is a category of people who, for some reason or another, cannot receive vaccinations and are therefore completely dependent upon herd immunity. This group includes "children [who] cannot be vaccinated against one or more diseases because of medical condition..." and "... vaccinated individuals [who] will either remain or become susceptible to disease despite vaccination" (Diekema, 2009). Also, "most vaccines cannot be given until a child is two to twelve months of age" (Diekema, 2009). Clearly, herd immunity is necessary to protect not only those with medical conditions, but also the next generation of children. By opposing mandated vaccinations and therefore high levels of herd immunity, my opponent is arguing that children under the age of two to twelve months should face the risk of infection, and that we should abandon hopes of advancing society because we can never achieve perfection.

In their third contention, my opponent attacks court rulings. S/He claims that "there is no justice in simply asking lawyers whether soothing is just or not". By my opponent's logic, every single case in world history that has been argued by a lawyer is wrong. My opponent argues that since my sources were lawyers, they are not just or credible, even though my contention deals with justice and the court system. Clearly, that segment of the contention is illogical. In the remainder of the contention, my opponent argues that my model of vaccinations is inconsistent with US precedent. The court case mentioned within was included to deal with debate over the definition for "mandate", as was the quote. However, the contention still stands because of the statement " Courts have repeatedly upheld compulsory vaccination laws in the United States as a reasonable exercise of the state's police power, even in the absence of a disease outbreak." This contention proves that mandated vaccination laws do not impede on the rights of the individual. In summary, I have refuted my opponent's third contention.

My opponent's fourth contention states that "If you force them to do something, instead of asking them nicely, they're likely to not co-operate." I will concede that, yes, people do not respond well to being forced to do something. However, under my plan, people will have the opportunity to refuse vaccinations, and are therefore not being forced to do anything. This contention does not impact the resolution at all.

My opponent's final contention is that the government must watch over every child in the world. S/He argues this because some people will always flout the law. However, since herd immunity is still being reached, the government will not be concerned with a few "free-risers". Since most people will not forgo mandated vaccinations, a sufficient proportion of the population will be vaccinated.

My opponent's final contention is that I have not specified which vaccinations will be mandated. However, the resolution states "Resolved: State mandated administration of childhood vaccinations is justified.", and therefore, the burden of the PRO is to prove that vaccinations are justified, not to specify which vaccinations should be mandated. While I am very sorry to hear about the rest of your preschool's unfortunate illness, that particular anecdote has no pertinence to the resolution. My opponent ended the fifth contention by stating "I'm not saying vaccinations should be avoided outright - I'm saying that this law applies even to very new vaccinations that cannot reasonably have undergone sufficient long-term scientific testing." Before any vaccinations can be released, it must undergo a vigorous three-step examination by the CDC. While several vaccinations' longterm effects are still not known, there is little chance that they will be severely detrimental. Also, it is important to value the quality of the lives of those living now more than those who will be born in the future, or the quality of life in the future. If vaccines prevent about 10.5 million cases of infectious illness and 33,000 deaths per year, but might cause adverse effects in the future, they ares still justified.

Since my opponent has attacked my contentions of justice, righteousness, and reasonability only with his contentions, and since I have effectively refuted all of them, all my contentions still stand.
In conclusion, I have rebutted and refuted all my opponent's arguments. I hope that voters will not judge me harshly on my honest mistake, and that they will consider both my and my opponent's arguments more important than my mistake.
I look forward to my opponent's final round, and once again apologize for my blunder.
Thank you,

ledgy
larztheloser

Con

I thank my opponent for continuing his case, and fully forgive him for his mistake. I used to coach debaters his age and he's certainly been a much tougher opponent than my students. Since the debate's over now, I'm going to go through my opponent's new material very briefly, and explain why I think I've won the debate.

My first contention was that you don't solve a lack of herd immunity with a voluntary model. My opponent fails to see how this impacts their case, so allow me to elaborate. Legal guardians aren't, in general, going to be dissuaded by extra paperwork - the fact that my opponent says they are likely to consider the choices carefully affirms this, since considering the choices when it comes to vaccination should take a LOT longer than filling out a form. We must therefore assume that (since this is their legal obligation anyway) legal guardians will act in the best interests of the child, not themselves, when making vaccination decisions. Since the decisions are informed, shifting the burden of proof won't change anything. It won't even promote discourse as that would imply rebuttal happens. Therefore, people aren't going to be vaccinating any more or any less under my opponent's model. My opponent has provided zero evidence that anybody will change their opinions as a result of this model, and since the model is 100% voluntary, the opinions are really all that matters. Since the model my opponent proposed won't actually have any effect, it also lacks any justification.

My second contention is that any utopian visions of how society should be are somewhat irrelevant, and thus we should not derive rights from any philosopher's conception of utopia. While I agree society should in general aim for "better" outcomes, my opponent has failed to justify a) why living longer/desease-free is necessarily "better" (there is no single social contract), and b) why vaccination rates will actually increase under his model. Even if the outcome is desirable, the model won't cause it. I made both of these contentions last round, and my opponent has responded to niether directly. He does, however, respond to the peripheral issue of whether vaccination is a moral duty because others cannot get vaccinated. My response was that there is no moral duty because vaccination is a choice, and my opponent responds to that by saying that for some people it isn't. I have a few responses. However, these people are aware of this and recieve additional medical attention as a result. Very often they are proscribed various supplements to boost their immune system and given a much greater amount of medical attention more generally. As a result, society already compensates for their lack of choice. Most of these children are under the age of two, an age where we look after people probably more than at any other stage in our lives. Besides this, herd immunity is not increased by voluntary vaccinations (stop calling it a mandate - mandate implies force). Also if you provide in-text citations (it looks like my opponent is using APA style) then it's necessary to have a reference list at the end as well.

My opponent has time and time again appealed to court ruling supporting a mandate, but then his own mandate abolishes any mandated vaccinations - it forces all vaccinations to be voluntary, the very opposite of a mandate. Matters of public health, however, do not depend on the opinions of lawyers, but doctors. That's why most courts use expert witnesses. The personal beliefs of a few rouge justices should never be relied upon to guide such an important element of public policy.

I agree that my opponent isn't forcing people to do anything, but his rhetoric always makes it seem like he is - in particular, he keeps calling it a mandate. It doesn't matter what it actually is - if you call it a mandate, some people will think of it as a mandate, and they're not going to like that. As a result, vaccination rates will decrease under my opponents model. That's terrible, particulary when coupled with the fact that my opponent has given zero evidence, other than his own personal opinion, that vaccination rates will actually increase.

My next contention my opponent doesn't really bother to respond to, essentially saying "I don't care about this point because I'm reaching herd immunity". My opponent gives no evidence for this, no evidence for why herd immunity allows him to ignore this point, and no evidence to disprove my evidence that immunisation rates will decrease under his model.

On my final contention, pro argues that he has no burden to show which vaccinations are mandated. Look carefully at the resolution, voters. Pro has to prove that ALL state-mandated administration of childhood vaccinations is justified. There is no exception for very new or dangerous treatments. My opponent continues by saying that deseases should be stopped now with no regard for the future. This undermines the whole point of vaccination, which is not to treat deseases now but prevent them in the future.

In conclusion, my opponent has given you no reason to believe his model will actually work. He has continuously argued for an opt-out clause, which undermines the entire point of a mandate. And that's why the motion falls.
Debate Round No. 3
9 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 9 records.
Posted by larztheloser 4 years ago
larztheloser
ledgy, you're very welcome. (:
Posted by ledgy 4 years ago
ledgy
larztheloser, I thank you for the time and consideration you put into this debate. It has certainly helped expound the weaknesses in my case, and I all alter it accordingly. I wish you the best of luck in your future debates and hope that you continue to be as just, fair, and persuasive as you have been in this debate.
Posted by ledgy 4 years ago
ledgy
Perhaps. The Siracusa Principles presented by the UN state that "...No State party shall, even in time of emergency threatening the life of the nation, derogate from the Covenant's guarantees of the right to life… the right to recognition as a person before the law; and freedom of thought, conscience and religion. These rights are not derogable under any conditions even for the asserted purpose of preserving the life of the nation." That seems to be rather final and definite. But in this resolution you could argue that there is no need for mandated vaccinations. Also, a slippery slope argument could be effective. However, I agree with you in part - common good will win in this case.
Posted by TrueJustice 4 years ago
TrueJustice
@ledgy
common good will always win though
Posted by ledgy 4 years ago
ledgy
@TrueJustice
It's a individual rights v. common good debate.
Posted by TrueJustice 4 years ago
TrueJustice
It would take alot of creativity and thought to accept this challenge and win
Posted by larztheloser 4 years ago
larztheloser
Sorry I didn't see your reply sooner, ledgy, otherwise I would have taken this debate. I think the flaw is in the need to provide a valid argument - literally anybody can read a valid argument off the internet and not get vaccinated. But I won't expand on this too much to give ScarletGhost a fair shot at the topic. It's definitely not an abusive motion, just a pointless one.
Posted by ledgy 4 years ago
ledgy
@larztheloser
Currently, there is no federal mandate on vaccinations. I believe you have already addressed this, but I just want to clarify. While the proposed system would be similar to the current plan, it would require that people who refuse vaccinations for their children provide a valid argument. Such is the case with the vaccination mandate for public school entry. By mandating childhood vaccinations, we increase awareness and decrease reluctance. Increasing awareness is obvious - it would require people to research or at least contemplate the advantages and disadvantages of vaccinations before making an informed decision. However, decreasing reluctance is more sublet. Mandating childhood vaccination would help to dispel rumors such as the supposed autism - vaccinations link, and it would also increase the percentage of vaccinated individuals. It would do this because many people object to vaccinations merely because they do not have the time or money. If the state mandates vaccinations, the state could institute an aid program that would alleviate most or all of the costs of vaccinations. People who merely do not have the time would be forced into either supplying valid reasons against vaccinating, or taking the time to be vaccinated, but in the end, this is beneficial to the safety of that individual and of society. This is because it would increase herd immunity, and because for every $1 spent on vaccination saves the public $6.30 in medical costs. Therefore, my (the PRO's) definitions are valid and not abusive.
Posted by larztheloser 4 years ago
larztheloser
Mandating for only those that seek it voluntarily (and thus do not apply for the exemption) is counterproductive regardless of whether it is justified or not, because it wouldn't effect any change - the people who want vaccinations will get them with or without the model, and the people who don't will be likewise unaffected. Pointless debate.
2 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Vote Placed by TUF 4 years ago
TUF
ledgylarztheloserTied
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Reasons for voting decision: Arguments and conduct due to R2.
Vote Placed by Microsuck 4 years ago
Microsuck
ledgylarztheloserTied
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Reasons for voting decision: difficult debate to judge. I'll analyze in the comments.