The Risk of Forgoing Vaccines
Given the direct benefit to the individual of immunity against disease, vaccination, is not completely altruistic. However, immunization does provide a significant benefit to society. For those who cannot get vaccinated, we rely on herd immunity – if society is made up mostly of those who have expended the energy and cost to get vaccinated, then the vulnerable will be protected due to the absence or reduction of disease transmission. But if a significant percentage of individuals decides against vaccination, for one reason or another, we may lose herd immunity, and infectious disease will spread.
Unfortunately, we are beginning to see signs of this phenomenon, due in part to parents refusing to vaccinate their children because of the fear that it could cause autism—the now completely debunked message delivered by Andrew Wakefield in 1998.