The Instigator
Pro (for)
7 Points
The Contender
Con (against)
0 Points

Vaccination with the MMR vaccine should be mandatory

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Voting Style: Open Point System: Select Winner
Started: 4/16/2018 Category: Society
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,745 times Debate No: 112845
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (4)
Votes (1)




I'd like to start by thanking my opponent, Smooosh, for challenging me to this debate. Looking forward to a solid debate.

This round is just for acceptance from him. Smooosh, if you have any concerns about the way this debate is structured, send me a PM and we can iron them out.

I'll start with some housekeeping.

Some basic definitions:

Vaccine: a preparation of killed microorganisms, living attenuated organisms, or living fully virulent organisms that is administered to produce or artificially increase immunity to a particular disease

The MMR vaccine: the acronym stands for measles, mumps and rubella, three single-stranded RNA viruses, and the vaccine is meant to impart a protective immunologic response to those who take it. The vaccine is composed of live attenuated viruses, meaning that their virulence has been strongly reduced, but the virus is still viable. This ensures that the vaccine will have the strongest and longest-lasting effect, meaning that the vaccine only has to be taken in its two-shot series once over a person's lifetime.

Should be mandatory: it is net beneficial that these injections required for individuals under the law.

I will stress two terms in that last definition: net beneficial. This is the criteria on which the burdens for each side in this debate are based. While I carry the burden of proof, that only means that I must show that my case is net beneficial over whatever alternative Con provides, whether that's the status quo or a counter plan. Con can either show that my case is not net beneficial, or outweigh my case with whatever alternative he presents.

I'll define the specific limits of my case in my opening round. For now, I'd just like to leave it with this. Looking forward to it!


I accept. I would like to thank whiteflame for doing this debate with me. I look forward to an interesting debate.
Debate Round No. 1


Alright, let"s kick this thing off with the case.

The U.S. Federal Government will require that all individuals before attending school receive the vaccination. All individuals who are beyond schooling age and under the age of 65 would have to get the vaccine within 5 years. These will be subsidized on an as-needed basis, ensuring that it is broadly affordable. Failure to vaccinate oneself or one's family results in a fine that scales with income. There would be other exclusions based on allergies, pregnancies, and those individuals who are immunocompromised.

Before I transition into some contentions, I"ll start with some general overview of this issue.

This debate is fundamentally a comparison between individual choice and public good. I think both agree that vaccines are a public good, at least insofar as having vaccines available to the public is a net benefit to society. It is generally beneficial for people to be able to protect themselves against potentially deadly viruses and bacteria. These are infectious, so there is also a benefit to others around us. If Con wishes to argue that this is not the case, he"s welcome to do so, but for now, I"ll function under the assumption that we agree on the efficacy of vaccines. We know that there is also a fundamental level of value to individual choice, which I"m certain Con will get into in his argument.

So, how do we balance freedom vs. health?

As a society, we do this quite often. Think about traffic laws. We require people to follow certain rules of the road because not doing so makes them a danger to both themselves and others. And this isn"t the only instance where our government goes against basic beliefs in the general population. Despite widespread acrimony over drug tests, workplaces are still allowed to require them. We are taxed despite the protestations of individuals who don"t like certain taxes. All of this is allowed not because the government is being overbearing, but because we"ve accepted an aspect of shared responsibility for our actions. We accept that individual rights do not always trump that responsibility, particularly when doing so could cause harm to others.

So, when is it justified to subvert individual choice to the public good?

That requires that two conditions to be met. Whatever is being regulated or mandated must be safe and effective, and the risk of not participating in said behavior must outweigh any risk from the behavior itself. I would argue that vaccines meet these criteria. Vaccines are both safe and effective, and they have a track record of reducing illness and death from the diseases they prevent. Again, if my opponent wishes to challenge this, I will be more than happy to provide evidence to support this argument (some of the coming arguments will support this), though I believe it"s a point on which we agree.

All of this puts Con in a difficult position. He"s going to try and argue that vaccines are markedly different from other issues that encounter the liberty vs. public good question, and he"ll have to show that the personal freedoms lost outweigh the widely evidenced good that vaccines provide. To do that, he"ll have to counter life and quality of life lost, which comes with numerical weight, with a vaguer conception of impact, as personal freedom isn"t clearly quantifiable. I look forward to seeing what he comes up with.

With that, onto my contentions.

1. Disease Spread

We must recognize that vaccination is not a choice that solely affects the individual being vaccinated. The decision to get the MMR vaccine affects everyone around you. Measles, mumps and rubella are all transmitted through droplets that are sprayed into the air, making them airborne pathogens with a high likelihood of transmission to those around the infected.[1, 2, 3] The mere fact that others are put at risk by people who refuse to take these vaccines creates a substantial societal harm in the status quo, as many are allowed to refuse to get the vaccine.

We're living this harm today, seeing a resurgence in these entirely preventable diseases in the U.S. and abroad.[4] This resurgence is most marked with measles, a disease that the U.S. had eliminated by the year 2000, but which returned in 17 outbreaks among 222 people just in 2011.[5] Mumps has had 4 reported outbreaks this year alone, and has had several small and two large outbreaks in the last 5 years, encompassing thousands of people.[6] Rubella has also returned from a long absence, appearing in three cases in the U.S. in 2012 after being eliminated back in 2004.[7] This change resulted mainly from a false public perception that vaccines have been linked to autism.[8]

In order to understand why vaccinating a large portion of the population is necessary, we have to understand the term "herd immunity." This has been defined differently by different authors, but I will use the term in this fashion: "a particular threshold proportion of immune individuals that should lead to a decline in the incidence of infection."[9] What that means is that if someone becomes sick with a given disease, herd immunity would ensure that that person is so much more likely to run into someone vaccinated against that disease than someone who is vulnerable that they would be extremely unlikely to infect other people. We cannot possibly vaccinate everyone and achieve absolute immunity because of the necessity of the exclusions I listed in my case, but we can seek to achieve herd immunity.

What does that threshold look like for these diseases? For measles, this is 95%.[10] For mumps, it's at least 88%, though it "may need to be higher" than this previously established threshold.[11] For rubella, it sits at 90%.[12] Only through mandatory vaccination could we ever hope to reach those numbers.

2. Disease Impact

My first contention established a threshold for harm in status quo, but I will now show that that threshold has a tremendous impact on society. In order to understand that, we have to know what the impact of these three diseases is.


"Prior to the vaccine, 3-4 million people were infected in the U.S. each year, resulting in 48,000 hospitalizations, 400-500 deaths and approximately 1,000 who developed chronic disabilities.

Even with modern medical care, the disease can lead to serious complications, including blindness, pneumonia, otitis media and severe diarrhea. Despite the availability of a vaccine it remains a leading cause of death among young children worldwide, with deaths mainly attributable to the complications of the disease...

More than 90 percent of susceptible people, usually unvaccinated, develop the disease after being exposed. There is no treatment except to make the patient as comfortable as possible by keeping them hydrated and trying to control the fever. Unvaccinated young children and pregnant women are at the highest risk for measles and its complications, including death."[13]


"Mumps is not normally a fatal disease, and up to 30% of mumps infections are asymptomatic. There can be serious complications, however, including aseptic meningitis, orchitis, oophoritis, mastitis, pancreatitis, and deafness. Meningitis occurs in up to 10% of mumps cases; it is usually subclinical and self-limiting. Symptoms of mumps-related meningitis include fever, headache, vomiting, and neck stiffness, which peak for a period of 48 hours before resolution and might appear up to 1 week before parotid swelling. More serious neurologic symptoms are rare and are due to encephalitis. Hearing loss following mumps infections is rare (1 in 2000 to 30,000 cases) and usually results in mild to moderate hearing loss.

Orchitis [swelling of the testicles] occurs 4 to 8 days after the onset of parotitis and is a common complication, affecting 20% of men who develop mumps after puberty. Of those cases, 40% will develop testicular atrophy and 30% will have lasting changes in sperm count, sperm motility, and sperm morphology."[14]


While the disease usually only results in a light fever and small rash, this disease is mainly problematic for pregnant women. "In 1964-65, America had a major rubella epidemic, with more than 12 million cases and 20,000 babies born with congenital rubella; of these, 13,000 were deaf, 3,500 were blinded by congenital cataracts, and 1,800 more suffered severe cognitive impairment."[7] Since pregnant mothers are among the few who cannot get the vaccine, every single person who decides not to get the vaccine is putting these mothers at risk.

Taken together, this means these three viruses present as enduring, broad threats to public health that are made dramatically worse in the absence of herd immunity. As we have clearly not reached a level of herd immunity in the absence of a mandate to vaccinate with the MMR vaccine, my plan solves for this harm.

With that, I await Con's argument.



I will not be making an argument against the safety nor the effectiveness of the MMR vaccination because I agree with my opponent that it is safe and there is an obvious benefit to society for everyone who is able to get one to do so. I also agree with my opponents idea of making it easy to receive and afford the vaccination. I encourage every reader of this debate to get the MMR vaccination and keep up to date with all of your vaccinations. It's simple and it keeps you safe from contracting some pretty nasty stuff!!! It seems all I can really do is call into question the idea of making the vaccine mandatory.

*Are we really going to asume that the government can truly keep us safe from every hazard we may encounter in our everyday lives?

There's an obvious risk involved with the act of simply going outside. I went outside this morning and found two inches of snow that I didn't expect and the humidity made my hair frizz like a mutha, and that makes for a nightmarish Monday. Luckily, I didn't witness any car accidents because we're used to it where I come from, but car accidents represent a huge risk to us all. Would it be daft of me to ask my opponent to show that the diseases that we're arguing about actually represent a greater risk to society than vehicular boo boos do? And not just vehicular deaths, but traffic accidents in total, because not everyone who contracts those diseases will actually die. My opponent is basically asking where our rights end, and our responsibility for public safety begins. May I ask my opponent if we as individuals become a greater risk to public safety simply by becoming moter vehicle operators? Which one of these dilemmas represents a greater risk to society, the diseases or car accidents? Is there really anybody who can keep us safe from all the hazards we may face on a day to day basis? In my heart of hearts, I believe there is something that can help us to minimize the risks involved with everyday life, SCIENCE!!!!! Which brings me to my next point.

*Is it not the responsibility of science to CONVINCE us of the benefits?

Sadly, there seems to be a growing disconnect with the scientific community and the public at large. Will such an imposing law serve to help bridge that gap, or only extend it? I believe in the future and I believe science is at its forefront, but do we need to make science, the LAW? I'm sure my opponent can appreciate an argument for science, but isn't it a tad lazy of the science community to forego the convincing aspects and just go ahead and make their findings the law of the land? Admittedly, I might be getting rather broad, but still the disconnect between science and society remains and I fail to see how a sweeping law can help bridge the gap. I dream of a time in the near future when science and the community will once again be in harmony and with a little ingenuity and imagination, that can be a reality, and I don't believe infringing on our constitutional rights are inventive or imaginative, so that won't work. Making vaccinations mandatory won't convince the synics.

Will a mandatory vaccination convince the antivaxers, or will it only strengthen their resolve?

Who are they? Are they all contemplating the feng shui of thier caves while fashioning hats out of tin foil and talking to Jesus on a CB radio, or is it something as simple as, they're afraid of needles. The ladder of the two maybe easily convinced. Perhaps a deliberate public health campaign could be launched to try and persuade the squeamish ones into getting vaccinated, and that could be enough to push us to the goal of herd immunization. If we focus on how easy and quick and simple it is to get vaccinated, we could convince enough people to get the vaccine, and that might be all it takes to get us to the goal, without having to step on our freedom of choice. What about the antivaxers, will a sweeping new mandate convince them to get vaccinated, or will it only legitimize their fears? This brings up a good question, are most the people who don't get vaccinated doing so out of a fear of the federal government, or just because they're lazy and don't particularly like needles. If it is someone who is purposely resisting vaccines out of a fear of the government, I get the feeling that a mandatory vaccination will not persuade them, and may only serve to alienate them even more so from the rest of society. It seems to me that the only effective way for either is to convince them to get vaccinated willfully, not threaten them with legal consequences. Which leads me to my next contention.

*How will we enforce this?

I'm not quite sure what my opponent may have in mind as far as the legal consequences for not getting vaccinated. What should we do if a child reaches school age but has not received the MMR vaccination, should we bar the child from entering school? There's also the question of the legality of a vaccination mandate, will the public at large let the government pass a law that is an egregious violation of the constitution? Even if we simply dole out a penalty in the form of a tax, this doesn't remove the violators from society, and they're still free to wreak havoc on the public. We could make sure they're not free from a civil case and anyone who contracts one of the diseases in question from someone who willfully didn't get vaccinated is free to bring legal action against the offender, but even this can be problematic because it maybe difficult to prove in court that the sickness originated from the person in question.

*Will we need to tighten or even close the borders to make the mandate truly effective?

I once read about a case where a man from Israel was in the US visiting with relatives, but one thing the custom agents missed in this case was the measles he was carrying. It seems that the percentage of the population we need to have vaccinated to achieve herd immunization is based only on the number of permanent residents in the country, but it does not take into account the undocumented immigrants in the country or those who are visiting the country. How do we get the many undocumented immigrants to adhere to the mandate, and what legal consequence will they be subjected to if they violate it? Is it possible that some of the families of illegal immigrants maybe torn apart because of this mandate? What would the ramifications be for the tourism industry? Will we need to ensure that every tourist be vaccinated before entering the country? What consequences can we really levy on a foreigner who legally enters the country and causes a measles outbreak because they've not been vaccinated?

*What about religious freedom?

Some people may not get vaccinated because of religious beliefs. Is it morally sound to infringe on their freedom of religion? In my humble opinion, whether it's because of a religious belief, or because of an unfounded fear, antivaxers have a legitimate reason for not getting vaccinated and no matter how illegitimate You or I might find thier fears, it's still a valid fear to them and I fail to see how it is morally acceptable to force thier fears on them for the sake of others who are at risk for no fault of the antivaxers, or anyone for that matter. Again, I encourage everyone to stay current with all their vaccinations, but do we really need to infringe on the rights of the many for the sake of a few?

I'm beside myself with excitement for this debate. I would like to thank my opponent for such an interesting topic.
Debate Round No. 2


Thanks to Smooosh for his arguments. Time to kick off R3.

I"ll start with some overviews.

OV1: Concessions and Drops

So, right off the bat, Con is conceding the vast majority of my case. He concedes the effectiveness and safety of vaccination, concedes all the numbers I provide (including the thresholds for herd immunity) and concedes the need to have vaccines in society.

However, the key issues are the drops.

Con drops much of my overview. I"ll get into this more on his contentions, but I must point out that I stipulated two conditions that are required for a mandate: they are both safe and effective, and the risk of remaining unvaccinated far outweighs the risk of vaccination. Con doesn"t challenge this, nor does he accomplish anything along the lines of what I pointed out next. He hasn"t shown that vaccines are markedly different from issues like traffic laws (more on that shortly), and he hasn"t even attempted to compare the harms caused by loss of personal freedoms to the societal good vaccines provide. He has no quantifiable impacts for any of his arguments.

Con also drops the text of my plan. He mentions an uncertainty when it comes to enforcement, but it"s quite clear how the case functions: "Failure to vaccinate oneself or one's family results in a fine that scales with income." That means all the penalties of this policy are directed at the parents. If a child is not vaccinated, it"s up to the individual school (as in status quo) to decide whether they can attend. This penalty is solely restricted to not getting vaccinated, so any harms that come from a decision to pay the fine instead would not be subject to legal action. Much as Con calls this "an egregious violation of the constitution", he doesn"t justify this statement. There is no freedom of choice in the Constitution, and the Constitution often weighs societal good over personal freedoms. That"s the reason you can"t shout "fire" in a crowded theater, or refuse to pay your taxes.

OV2: Lack of evidence

Con"s case is also severely lacking in the source department. He makes a lot of assertions without any evidence to support them. That makes it impossible for him to quantitate his impacts, much less explain how they weigh against mine. Con will have to do a lot more in R3 if he hopes to have any chance in this debate.
Onto Con"s contentions. I"ll reorganize these a bit.

I. Warranting a Mandate

Con is protests my case by arguing that the damage done by measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) is relatively minor
compared to other issues. Multiple responses.

1. Con concedes my numbers, which show a clear harm to society in the form of lost life and reduced quality of life for many. He presents no numbers of his own to show that any of the issues he presents outweigh the harms caused by MMR.

2. Even if they did somehow outweigh, we can accept that there are a lot of issues that could and should be resolved for the public good while still resolving this clear problem. Con concedes that MMR are harmful, and that vaccines are effective against them. Any lives saved by increasing the spread of vaccines in the US is sufficient reason all by itself to implement this policy. Con hasn"t presented a reason that MMR doesn"t meet the threshold required to act, whereas I have provided extensive evidence supporting this kind of action. Just because the government cannot feasibly protect individuals from all potential sources of harm does not justify Con"s side of this debate, as this is clearly an instance where the harms can be effectively stemmed and peoples" lives can be saved.

3. Con didn"t respond to my overview, and that"s pretty damning to this argument. The reason we have traffic laws is to prevent a great deal of car accidents that would happen if they did not exist. They are also the reason we require individuals with a car to have a license when they drive, to get the car registered, and to have insurance. Car accidents represent such a significant danger that cars and their owners are highly regulated, and their personal freedoms are abridged to protect others from drivers who would put them at risk because of their poor choices. The same logic applies to vaccines: individuals pose a significant risk to others by carrying around a potentially deadly and easily transmissible disease. They made a poor choice by not receiving a vaccination. In doing so, they were free to harm others who could not make such a choice. Con"s argument may be driving at a slippery slope, but this is one instance where that slope favors my case. Vaccines should be mandatory because that"s what the law demands right now.

Con also argues that addressing immigrants would be difficult and require other means than I"ve stated. He"s absolutely right " I provide no means to address an influx of immigrants that will almost certainly bring diseases with them. Neither does Con, nor does this reduce the impact of my arguments. Turn this argument against Con. He"s conceding that there will always be an influx of potential disease vectors into this country. The mandate offers the only possible means by which herd immunity can be achieved (remember how high those numbers are), and therefore the only means of protecting the population from these foreign diseases. There will always be a risk that immigrants will transmit deadly diseases to the population, but only my case effectively dilutes the effect.

II. Convincing vs. Mandating

Con argues that scientists should convince the masses to vaccinate, rather than having the government require people to do so. My response to this is simple: scientists have been trying their damnedest to clear up the misconceptions surrounding vaccinations, and people still aren"t listening. The evidence of just how successful vaccines have been (particularly the MMR vaccine) is readily available and commonly supported in public service announcements and in the news.[15-18] People are educated by their doctors, their schools, and by scientists in the news and communities.[19-22] Con keeps stating that they could do more, yet he provides no specific ideas beyond just educating them more and better. How, exactly, does Con think this can be accomplished? He doesn"t say. His point that people who are afraid of needles may be convinced is similarly unwarranted. He provides no basis by which people who are so afraid of the process could be convinced.

I do agree with Con that there is a disconnect between science and much of society. However, I don"t agree with the unsupported assumption he"s making that it can be solved by simply educating more people. A lot of the people who aren"t getting vaccinated simply don"t accept the scientific findings, no matter how well supported they are.[23] Con will have to provide some means to overcome this barrier. In the meantime, mandating vaccination does two things. First, it ensures that these individuals do not endanger others by getting MMR. Second, it functions as a personal empirical evidence of their safety. Many of these people believe that vaccines are dangerous to their health, even when the evidence is very much against them.[24] Receiving a vaccine provides them with clear evidence that those concerns are overblown.

III. Backlash

This comes in a couple of different forms. Con asserts that many of the people who do not get vaccinations are antivaxxers who are convinced that the government is out to get them, that religious people will effectively lose their freedom of religion due to their inability to act on their religious beliefs, and that there will be violators who "wreak havoc on the public." I"ll respond to each in turn.

Con acknowledges several times that antivaxxers are objectively wrong. He concedes that their behavior (i.e. their unwillingness to get vaccinated) is damaging to other people in society, even deadly to some. Yet he"s justifying a system that continues to leave those people in danger based on these same people. Con is effectively yielding to their demonstrably false concerns. Yet at the same time, Con drops my arguments regarding taxation, drug tests, and traffic laws. All of those have detractors as well. Why are they allowed to exist, despite the backlash? Because they provide a greater societal good than harm, and some subset of the population being upset about it doesn"t detract from that. He talks about "legitimiz[ing] their fears", yet he provides no substantive harms that they would cause. They already don"t get vaccinated, so a continued will not to be vaccinated doesn"t make them any more of a threat. If they pay the fine, then they are providing funds to society to address health issues that result from their injurious behavior. If they get vaccinated and are still upset, they are no longer a risk to those around them. That outweighs their negativity.

The religion point looks remarkably similar to the religious freedom point, and it"s no more convincing. The only difference here is that Con points to freedom of religion instead of freedom of choice. However, this would hardly be the first instance where this freedom was abridged; there"s a reason you can"t get married at 12 or engage in human sacrifice, despite the restrictions those laws impose on religion.[25] There is no such thing as absolute freedom, even when it comes to religion. More importantly, Con provides no reason why religious freedom outweighs societal wellbeing. Some people being upset that they aren"t allowed to express their religious beliefs by allowing themselves to get measles seems like a rather petty issue compared to lives lost.



To start off my rebuttal round, I will go back to the enforcement issue first. Either my opponent doesn't realize how asinine the " tax penalty" is, or he is purposefully not mentioning how ineffective it really is. If I were to resist getting vaccinated, I would end up with a tax penalty based on my income, but is it always that easy for the feds to recoup the money if I neglect to pay? Read paragraph four under "How is penalty enforcement handled?" (Read the whole article if you'd like, but what I'm trying to elude to is the fact that the legality or the constitutionality of a "tax penalty" is still very much up for debate.) Let's say that the tax penalty is legal and constitutional, does that mean that as an antivaxer, all I need to do is pay a "tax penalty" and I get out of having to take your " devil, mind control serum"? Not to mention the fact that the "penalty" seems to focus on those who receive tax returns (lower income brackets). My opponents percentages on herd immunization were very clear and concise, (paraphrasing) if wilfully unvaccinated people are free to roam in public, they represent a significant risk to society!!!! A tax penalty does not remove the "risk" from society, it just forces the offenders to pay a penalty. Now if you want to boil this down, the only way my opponents proposition could truly be "effective" is to force the vaccine resisters to get the shot, or remove them from society!!!! I don't think I saw my opponent come close to that horrific argument, but if he's holding back on that disturbing opinion just for the sake of argument, than I implore him to come clean!! This whole concept of "tax penalty" just seems like a tax scheme to tax a certain population of society that you (or the medical community in general) are annoyed by.

Likening freedom of choice to the anarchaic act of shouting "fire" in a crowded theater is an obvious oversimplification. Unvaccinated people do not cause public panic simply by being in public. I've tried it. I yelled " unvaccinated family" while in line at Disney world in the hopes that it would make everyone clear out, but to no avail. We had to wait the whole 45 minutes to ride space mountain. My opponent insists there's no freedom of choice in the constitution, but backs that claim up with nothing. Are we not granted the freedom to choose our president, or our choice to assemble peacefully? I challenge my opponent to prove the constitution denies US citizens, freedom of choice!!!

I would like to call to attention the fact that my opponent neglected to answer a question I asked of him in my opening argument. Are people who have neglected to get the MMR vaccination more of a risk to public health than car accidents? In the UK, in the years from 2001 to 2013 there was an upsurge in measles deaths to 3. That's 3 deaths in 12 years. It's estimated there are 400,000 deaths per year globally because of car accidents. Measles deaths have not been higher than that number for a decade. In the 90s and 00s, a world wide campaign to increase awareness for MMR vaccinations has drastically reduced the number of deaths globally. The United States and most other developed nations did not need to resort to mandatory vaccination initiatives (maybe no countries did, I don't know. If my opponent finds a country that did, I welcome him to share it). My opponent asserts that the scientific community has tried to convince people for years to get vaccinated, but it hasn't worked, so now we need to make it mandatory. I counter with the claim that public initiatives aimed at convincing people to vaccinate willfully, have had a great track record so far. In fact, public persuasion over brute force has proven to be the most effective! I contend that I did offer a plausible solution to the risk unvaccinated people pose to the rest of society, and that solution is public persuasion.
Debate Round No. 3


Con had to do at least one of two things in this debate. He either had to show that my case was not net beneficial or provide an alternative case that would improve upon mine.

By conceding the safety and efficacy of the MMR vaccine, he conceded an essential part of my solvency, ensuring only medical upsides for every person who takes them and those they associate with.

By conceding the numbers I presented in R1, he conceded a set of quantifiable impacts. Returning to tens of thousands of cases, hundreds of deaths and thousands of chronic disabilities per year for measles alone is a significant harm but compounded with the damage to tens of thousands of infants from rubella and the many cases of encephalitis and meningitis from mumps, this is a massive problem.

What disadvantages has Con presented?

He"s argued that the loss of freedom of choice is itself harmful.

I conceded a reduction in choice from the outset. However, Con hasn"t afforded any weight to this argument. He just states that loss of freedom, regardless of the freedom and regardless of how many people are losing it, is damaging. That"s not something we can measure. How many people are losing this freedom of choice? How much weight should we give that loss? How does it weigh against the health harms? Con fails to answer all 3 questions, which ensures that this is a vague and unquantifiable impact. Meanwhile, every illness someone gets from one of these antivaxxers is a substantial loss of freedom, and not just choice. Every death is a complete loss of all freedoms. And those have clear numbers and value attached to them.

He"s argued that I violate the Constitution.

The Constitution doesn"t guarantee a freedom of choice, nor an absolute freedom of religion. Con talking about the Constitution, yet he"s solely asserted that I"ve violated it without any warrants or evidence. In many cases, our laws do restrict both. I cannot go 20 miles over the speed limit in my car. If I am caught, I will be fined. I cannot choose to eschew my taxes. If I am caught, I will be fined. That"s the law, and it"s constitutional, just as child marriage and human sacrifice are against the law. Even if you buy that there"s some uncertainty with regards to constitutionality, that"s not a harm to my case. The Constitution is not immutable, and if it does not facilitate the public good, it should be changed. That is yet another reason to support the resolution.

What attacks has he levied on my solvency?

He"s argued that a tax penalty won"t work.

This is a straw man. My case includes no tax penalties. I"m talking about a fine. A fine is wholly enforceable under the law. They would function similarly to court fines, and hence have various enforcement means attached to them.[26] Even if you see some parallels to a tax penalty, Con hasn"t shown that a tax penalty is either possible to elude or impossible to enforce. The source he provides shows that people do pay this tax penalty, even if it only comes out of the returns they would have received on their taxes. As for constitutionality, the same article states that the courts found that this tax penalty was constitutional, and that is not currently up for debate.

He"s argued that people will pay the fine rather than take the vaccine.

Yes, an antivaxxer can pay the fine in lieu of vaccination. Considering that it scales with earnings, it affects everyone equally. This ensures one of two outcomes for every individual who could but has not received the MMR vaccine in status quo: either they receive it and thus confer protection to others in their communities, or they pay a fine that goes into public coffers, providing better funding for health care in the US and ensuring that ALL illnesses and injuries are better-treated and less damaging. Con dropped this impact and hasn"t explained how people would avoid the fine, which means Con conceded the final link to my solvency. Either these people support the health of their neighbors by taking the vaccine and thus refusing to be a vector for MMR, or they fund efforts that ensure a better standard of health more indirectly. If it is their desire to continue being a vector, then they owe their communities for the harm they could cause. Either way, the health of communities across the US improves, it"s just a matter of how.

What has Con done to minimize my impacts?

Con has tried to minimize my impacts by comparison to other issues, yet he drops my responses. Any disease spread, and especially any resultant deaths, are sufficient reason to address this problem. Many individuals have no means of preventing these deadly diseases from reaching them, and thus prevention on an individual basis is necessary. The numbers are substantial, as is the severity of effect. Just because people may not panic at the thought that there are unvaccinated individuals around them who could be carrying deadly diseases doesn"t mean that the risk those people present is unworthy of that panic. A measles outbreak can spread rapidly and silently, wreaking havoc on a population. Sounds worthy of panicking to me.[27]

Con seems particularly focused on the comparison to car accidents, though he drops some key arguments that turn this argument against him. I"ll repeat them here:

The reason we have traffic laws is to prevent a great deal of car accidents that would happen if they did not exist. They are also the reason we require individuals with a car to have a license when they drive, to get the car registered, and to have insurance. Car accidents represent such a significant danger that cars and their owners are highly regulated, and their personal freedoms are abridged to protect others from drivers who would put them at risk because of their poor choices. The same logic applies to vaccines: individuals pose a significant risk to others by carrying around a potentially deadly and easily transmissible disease. They made a poor choice by not receiving a vaccination. In doing so, they were free to harm others who could not make such a choice.

Con attempted to challenge my numbers by pointing to lower numbers in the UK. However, this has nothing to do with this debate. This case takes place in the US, where antivaxxers are far more common. Con also ignores that the numbers are INCREASING in the US, meaning that these harms will continue to grow.[28-30] Therefore, my impacts stand with not only their current weight, but an increasing weight as we go forward.

What alternative has Con presented?

Con concedes that MMR cause loss of life. They are a clear, calculable harm that is expanding year-on-year. He also drops that my case would take all the money acquired through fines and spend it on health care, which would improve health outcomes across the board. He must outweigh these impacts.

Con"s only solution is to disseminate more information. He doesn"t state how he will do this, what information will be distributed, who will distribute it, and, most importantly, why antivaxxers, who both make up the vast majority of people who do not vaccinate and clearly have a bias against such information, will listen. And there is substantial evidence that they won"t.[31] His case is so vague that establishing any degree of solvency, much less impact, is impossible. He provides no reason why the information currently available to the public is insufficient, nor why adding to that information via any means would suddenly change peoples" minds.

Giving Con the benefit of the doubt (voters should not do this " it was up to Con to specify his case, not me), Con"s case mirrors the campaigns he cites. He talks about a worldwide campaign. First, this chiefly reduced measles rates in countries that were not the US, which means its effectiveness here is suspect. If anything, the drop off in the US is clearly associated with the development of the vaccine and its best use practices.[32] Second, rates have surged since 2005 in the Americas to be higher than they were in 2000, despite the fact that more information has become readily available.[33] Third, even if you buy this, Con provides no support for a similar system working for mumps and rubella, the former of which has also surged in recent years.[34]. Con has in no way shown that a public initiative of any sort would be effective, and he hasn"t specified how such an initiative would proceed. Most importantly, he fails to recognize that we live in an age where this information is more available than ever before, particularly in the US where Internet access is more prevalent than ever.[35] He cannot meaningfully increase access to that information, nor has Con countered any of the arguments I made in the previous round about the unwillingness of antivaxxers to listen to such a campaign.

Essentially, Con"s case is the status quo. There are already massive campaigns and groups attempting to convince people to get people to vaccinate. Con isn"t adding to that. He"s simply feeding into an education system that, despite all of its efforts, has seen vaccination rates have go down in the past decade.[36] As information has become more available, more people have turned away from vaccination. Con"s case does not affect that.


Con has essentially conceded my solvency and impacts. He"s also failed to present a competitive counterplan. The combination of these two ensures that my case both has clear, substantial benefits and outweighs his. Only my case is certain to improve health outcomes, whether by increasing vaccination rates, increasing funds for the health care system, or a combination of the two. The public good clearly wins out in this debate. Vote Pro.



Much of my opponents entire argument hinges on the concept that what's beneficial for society must be implemented despite the loss of liberty it might represent, but underneath the hard exterior of this argument, my opponent seems squeamish about actually fully implementing such a sterile mandate, and rightfully so. My opponent has stated more than once that antivaxers represent a significant risk to society, a point that I don't dispute, but he offers no practical plan that can be used to remove said risk. Forcibly vaccinating, or forcibly removing that risk is the only effective way a mandate can work, but my opponent falls short of arguing that point. All my opponent offers is a mere deterrent in the form of a fine, based on each individuals income. Outside of paying the fine, antivaxers will still be free to roam and continue to put other unvaccinated citizens at risk. Whether the money raised by the fine goes to medical care or whether it goes to raising awareness for disco bowling related injuries, it does nothing toward removing that risk. And to add insult to injury, my opponent removes the risk an antivaxer might face from a civil case, because he considers the fine to be the only debt to society, which causes the mandate to be even less of a deterrent, because it shields the antivaxers from lawsuits.

My opponent assumes that since I don't dispute the safety or effectiveness of the MMR vaccination, than I've dropped most of the points needed to dispute his claims. I firmly disagree with that. I've used my entire argument to focus on the effectiveness of the mandate itself. Calling into question the safety or effectiveness of the vaccination would be a waste of words because this argument has nothing to do with the safety or effectiveness of the vaccination, it has to do with the mandate, so logically that's what I've spent my time focusing on. In my opinion, I've conceded nothing to my opponent that's of any consequence to the argument at hand!

One contention that my opponent has not effectively disputed is the effectiveness of public initiatives aimed at convincing people to vaccinate willfully, but we cannot accuse my opponent of neglect of the issue, because there isn't much my opponent could do to dispute it. In fact, it's the most effective tool to date. My opponent himself states that measles was once eradicated from the US in year 2000. The measles vaccination has been available since the 60s, and the US has not had a vaccination mandate in the period in between, and yet we've achieved the goal of eradicating measles without a mandate. My opponent argues that we must implement a non-tested method to get results that we've already achieved without having to resort to a mandate. Furthermore, my opponent has done nothing to show the ineffectiveness of public initiatives aimed at convincing people to vaccinate. Think about the last time you've heard or seen or read a public announcement that urged you to get vaccinated. If you can't remember the last time that's happened, don't think you're unique, there really isn't much being done lately to convince the public to receive the MMR vaccination. It seems to me that the trend in MMR infections and the lack of public awareness has a correlation, another point my opponent did not properly dispute.

If we've eradicated measles and rubella in this country, than why are they back? My opponents plan does nothing to address the risk undocumented immigrants and legal tourists pose to us. Measles returned to this country from an outside source, and my opponent offers nothing when it comes to revaluation of tourism. Furthermore, my opponent defiantly proposes nothing to deal with the risk undocumented immigrants pose. My opponent has not proven that we can achieve herd immunization without taking into consideration the many undocumented immigrants and legal tourists we have in this country.

I asked my opponent whether he considers MMR to be a greater risk to society than car accidents, he has neglected to answer. In my opinion my opponent has not proven that MMR is at this very moment a greater risk to society than car accidents.

Lastly, I'd like to thank my opponent for letting me debate him on this interesting topic. Regardless of the outcome, I was satisfied just being able to make my case.
Debate Round No. 4
4 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 4 records.
Posted by Smooosh 3 years ago
Probably Iowa.
Posted by whiteflame 3 years ago
Thanks for voting, Tej! And yes, I am aware that (to a minimal extent) child marriage is legal in the US, though if I recall, it still requires parental or judicial consent in those instances.
Posted by tejretics 3 years ago
For the record, though, child marriage is legal in some states of the US.
Posted by tejretics 3 years ago
== RFD ==

This seems like a straightforward decision. Let's start with the implementation of the plan. Con's first criticism is that "a fine isn't enough." Pro demonstrates both that a fine is a deterrent, and that the money from the fine can be redirected to better public health. No response from Con. Con's second criticism is that this violates the freedom of choice, and is thus unconstitutional. Pro takes this down by proving that there's no absolute freedom of choice in the Constitution, and that it makes utility tradeoffs all the time.

Then, let's look to Con's offense. The only offense Con has is that this violates the freedom of religion. Pro's response -- that the freedom of religion isn't absolute -- is enough to take this contention down, insofar as the government already places restrictions on the freedom of religion and other choices of individuals to protect public safety. Pro preempted this in their overview, in fact. No response.

Turning, then, to Pro's case. Pro's case is straightforward: these diseases cause suffering and his plan leads to better herd immunity, thus mitigating this suffering. Con first says that this will cause backlash from anti-vaxxers. I'm unclear what the impact from that is, and I buy Pro's response that a few detractors isn't sufficient reason to not implement a law that is broadly effective. Beyond this, Con concedes all of Pro's offense, except to try and mitigate it through an alternative of "public persuasion" and campaigns of information. Pro points out that (1) Con doesn't explain, at all, what this alternative looks like, and why access to information can't exist in the Pro world as well, and (2) this is unlikely to be effective, given that there was increase in disease rates even after more information about these issues, and that there's tons of evidence that anti-vaxxers are unlikely to believe this information.

Since Pro proves to me that his plan reduces disease spread, I vote Pro.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by tejretics 3 years ago
Who won the debate:Vote Checkmark-
Reasons for voting decision: RFD in comments

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