Re: Unvaccinated kids in community
From: Doug Huston (
Date: Tue, 15 Jul 2014 06:53:56 -0700 (PDT)
This is a juicy topic 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 Cohousing Community, Ashland Oregon)

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