It seems like it is impossible to log on to social media nowadays and not see people arguing over whether or not vaccines should be mandatory. Memes poking fun at anti-vaccine parents and children have flooded the internet, and the conversation on this topic has filled the web’s comment sections. So, what is the libertarian view on this debate? There is actually a valid libertarian stance to hold on both sides of the issue. Let’s discuss.
The Pro-Vaccination Argument
Libertarians believe that an individual shall not harm another individual and that one can and should be able to live their lives however they please – so long as nobody else is affected without consent. Therefore, since it has been well documented for years that vaccines prevent diseases, wouldn’t an unvaccinated person be non-consensually exposing his or her immediate surroundings to possible diseases? Even if the adults around them are vaccinated, infants and pets could be exposed to a disease. However, this argument echoes socialism by alluding to aspects of having a ‘responsibility to society’ enforced through law. Regardless, many cases of the recent outbreaks were reported among vaccinated persons.This arguement focuses around the point of not making anybody else suffer for your own decision.
The Anti-Vaccination Argument
It’s simple. Libertarians believe that you own your mind, body, and life. Therefore, libertarians believe that you have the right to refrain from putting something into your body that you do not want to. If consistent, this principle would support the anti-vaccine argument. The Libertarian Party’s official website reads,
Libertarians believe that each person has the right to make their own medical decisions. Libertarians support removing government meddling from healthcare.
Furthermore, since this is a debate that includes parental privilege, let’s see the party’s stance on education.
Libertarians advocate free-market education where parents, teachers, and students, not the government, should make their own choices on education.
The site would continue to add, “Every child is different. Every community is different.” Many non-libertarians would scoff at the notion that parents should dictate the educational experiences for their child from the time they are born until the day they become an adult. If this principle remains consistent, shouldn’t parents be able to also dictate the healthcare for their child, meaning the ability to hold their kids back from vaccinations?
In conclusion, there is a libertarian argument to each side of this issue. Nobody is any less libertarian for believing one side over the other. At this point, only time will tell if vaccines are truly harmful.