When I was about five or six I came down with measles. I can’t remember if it was the first or second time I had it (yes, I am one o’ them okkered buggers to have caught it twice), but I do remember a great deal about it. It was winter, and there was snow on the ground. By the time the daft GP was convinced I was suffering from more than the anxiety of a worried mother, and the ambulance had taken me away, the measles had been joined by pneumonia (a relatively common but serious complication of measles) and they were having quite a party together.
I was taken to an isolation ward. I remember the child in the next glass cubicle constantly trying to escape. I remember being wheeled from one building to another, on a wheelchair, through the snow. I remember being given a boiled egg to eat – but no spoon with which to eat it. I remember a large Afro-Caribbean nurse advancing on me with a syringe that seemed about six feet long and saying “where’s yer bum, then?”
Memories that really should have been expunged for today’s children with the advent of the Measles-Mumps-Rubella vaccine, but thanks to increased mobility of populations, and not helped by the anti-vaxers, such memories are likely to remain green for some time – at least, that is what one can infer from this communiqué from the World Health Organization.
Mobility is not something one can do much about. However, I am coming round to the view that the anti-vaxers should be held to account for their actions – not for neglecting to have their own children vaccinated, but by exposing the children of others to harm. It should be remembered that measles is not some picturesque rash that can be used as an excuse to stay off school eating ice cream. It can leave infected children – and infected adults – blind, deaf, even dead.
As a Tory I look somewhat askance at legislation that restricts the freedom of others to do what they like, but when that freedom threatens others, action should be taken. And I’m not sure new legislation would be needed, in any case. It might be possible to prosecute parents who willfully refuse to have their children vaccinated on grounds of child cruelty, but that’s not the point – it is not their children, but the children of others who are at risk. In which case, I humbly suggest that such parents be prosecuted for the extant crime of Conspiracy to Endanger Life.
Notwithstanding inasmuch as which I have this day written to my MP,
Stormin‘ Norman Lamb, a senior LibDem and once their spokesman on health. I shall let you know what he says.
Dear Mr Lamb,
I would draw your attention to the following link in which the World Health Organization summarizes recent outbreaks of measles.
I am worried that the problem might have been exacerbated by the deliberate, premeditated refusal of some parents to have their children vaccinated on the spurious grounds that such vaccinations are harmful. Instead, such parents expose their own children and those of other parents to what is a very serious disease. It is my view that such parents should be prosecuted for the existing crime of conspiracy to endanger life.
I am a natural conservative and look askance at unnecessary legislation that restricts personal freedom. However, such a philosophy must be tempered with the view that the exercise of such freedoms should not be harmful to others – and the freedom not to vaccinate one’s children does indeed cause harm, or offer the potential to harm, others.
I look forward to your views on this.