If people are still anti-vax in 2014, not only are they unswayed by strong evidence, they are also unmoved by reportage of outbreaks of vaccine-preventable illnesses. They laugh off the risk of their children’s death. They seem unbothered by the idea that even if their children fully recover from such illnesses, they may pass it to someone who might well be more vulnerable to its dangers. In fact, the more pro-vaxxers explain the evidence, the more intransigent anti-vaxxers are in their beliefs.
It would be bad enough if the only problems with anti-vaxxers were their resistance to evidence and their endangerment of their children and members of their community. There is, however, another, less discussed problem with their movement. It’s not a factual problem, but an ethical one.
Let’s pretend for a moment that the anti-vaxxers are right—that vaccines are linked with autism. Then their repeated exhortations to avoid vaccines suggest that autism is actually a fate worse than death. That autism is the worst thing that could happen to a child—worse even than the suffering and death that can accompany measles, mumps, polio, and diphtheria.