Re: Unvaccinated kids in community
From: Doug Huston (
Date: Mon, 14 Jul 2014 16:34:38 -0700 (PDT)
Can of worms is right. This is a juicy one that may elicit strong opinions, 
like I suppose mine might be viewed. Might be hard to keep the thread pertinent 
to cohousing.
Here in Ashland, Oregon I believe we have one of the highest (if not the 
highest) rates in the country for unvaccinated kids. 
I believe it emerged once when a young child had pertussis and there was a also 
a newborn and an elderly person both in the community. Those infant and elderly 
are at higher risk of greater sickness and death if they contract it. We did 
not make a policy about this.
There are numerous reasons why people don’t vaccinate their children; more than 
I can write or know. Some parents dislike the age at which the vaccine is 
administered, or the combining of them, and thus do it - but not just the 
way/time conventional medicine suggests. Many parents make the vaccination 
decision based on information, and many base their decisions on sentiment. 
Those on both sides cite their reasons. For some it’s religion, as Diana points 
out, though around here lots of parents have just lied to fit through that 
exception. I think many public school districts mandate vaccines for admission.

I dislike casting things dichotomously, but to me this issue mostly comes down 
to just that. 
Effective epidemiological practices for eradicating diseases don’t really work 
if "many" opt out.
It is my perspective that those who don’t vaccinate do it on the backs of those 
who do. 
Non-vaccinators can afford to risk that their children will not get the disease 
because those who do vaccinate have lowered the odds for them getting sick. 
Asymptomatic carriers can infect any number of people, and it is invisible to 
them (or their parent). Some number of people get sick from vaccines.
Those old enough to remember people with polio may have their perspective 
colored by that.

It is my experience that many adults who do not choose to vaccinate their child 
invokes this simply as a personal choice. In as much as that stance is arguably 
self-interested, as opposed to giving a higher priority to the greater 
community/society, I’d be (slightly) worried that a parent who decides not to 
vaccinate their child may be foreshadowing a less-than-community-minded 
sentiment that will show up at some point in their cohousing community. And 
perhaps in their children. 
It is also likely that some self-centered position will emerge from a community 
member whether they vaccinate their child or not. 
Those on the Right and the Left make for interesting bedfellows on the 
vaccination issue.
We are all quite idiosyncratic, much more than the consistent selves we imagine 
ourselves to be.
I wonder if we in the U.S. bristle a lot more about being told what to do in 
cohousing communities. As opposed to cohousers in countries who have a 
bigger/longer legacy of doing things for the common good.
It’s consistently intriguing to me how strong the sentiment of not wanting to 
be told what to do is, in intentional communities.

- Doug Huston (Ashland, Oregon)

On Jul 14, 2014, at 3:50 PM, Diana Carroll <dianaecarroll [at]> wrote:

> Not here; lots of unvaxed kids.
> I wonder how that would play out.  Do you ask to view the kids' medical
> records?
> What about the case where there's a religious objection, such as being
> Christian Scientist?
> What about if there's a medical reason for non-vaccination, such as an egg
> allergy, or compromised immune system?
> And why just kids?  Adults can carry and spread pertussis and mumps just as
> easily as a kid can.
> Seems like a can of worms to me.
> Diana
> On Mon, Jul 14, 2014 at 6:35 PM, Fred-List manager <fholson [at] 
> wrote:
>> Diana Malsky <dianam [at]>
>> is the author of the message below.  It was posted by
>> Fred, the Cohousing-L list manager <fholson [at]>
>> --------------------  FORWARDED MESSAGE FOLLOWS --------------------
>> We have many unvaccinated kids in my community, and this has never been
>> raised as an issue.
>> A long-term member, who recently researched this after her grandson was
>> born, has become concerned and is saying she doesn't want us to accept any
>> new members who have and/or intend to have unvaccinated kids. She's not
>> asking that current members' children be vaccinated, just a moratorium for
>> new members. Most of us are more comfortable leaving this to parents'
>> choice.
>> I'm looking to hear if safety concerns around unvaccinated children have
>> come up in other communities, and how it's been handled.
>> Thanks!
>> --
>> Cheers,
>> Diana
>> 434-826-9472
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