Vaccinations in school; why shouldn’t they be the parent’s “choice”?

February 12, 2022 • 12:20 pm

I have floated this question before, but want to raise it today to see if I can understand a distinction. And that distinction is between many people’s argument that they cannot be forced to get a Covid vaccination to stay on the job, but at the same time they allow their children to be forcibly vaccinated to attend public school.

Now there is no law in the U.S. saying that you must be vaccinated, period, though of course there are mandates specifying that you can’t work unless you’re vaccinated. New York City’s mandate for municipal workers went into effect today, after the Supreme Court turned down an emergency request yesterday to stall it. Up to 3,000 people might have lost their jobs this morning.  And yet many people still refuse to get vaccinated even if it means the loss of their livelihood. I see them on the news every night, making loud protests about their “rights” being violated by vaccine mandates. Along with that goes the mantra “this is my body and therefore it’s my choice.” And so they get fired, and some of them die, while others infect their fellow citizens.

This mass protest has culminated in the Great Truckers’ Protest of last week, and I hope it’s over now. (Did Trudeau show some moxie?) It was an act of civil disobedience, and therefore warrants punishment, but I had little sympathy for them.

What I don’t understand is this: these same people who assert their rights and bodily autonomy—and I see no “right” to be able to endanger the public safety by infecting others—make not a peep when they get shots for their kids to go to public school.

Not everyone understands that in the U.S., and presumably other countries, any child wishing to attend public school has to get a series of immunizations,

Here, for instance, are the vaccinations required for a child in to attend public school in Illinois.  I count 14 jabs needed to stave off ten diseases. That’s a lot of shots!

Click charts to enlarge:



Now why aren’t the parents protesting this forcible vaccination? Isn’t that a violation of either the parents’ or the students’ “rights”? If you’re one of the many who talk about “rights” and “my decision”, and yet still want to walk around in public, yes, it’s certainly hypocritical to not bring up “rights” for your children as well. But, except for a few fringe anti-vaxxers, or believers who want religious exemptions for their kids (I’m not sure these are even allowed for school vaccination), we hear no talk of rights for school immunization.

Is this hypocrisy? Well, I can think of several reasons why you could say “no”:

a.) The school vaccines have been proven safe and effective over years of trial, while, of course COVID vaccines have been around just a bit more than a year. The parents could say, “These vaccines work and don’t have bad side effects, so I won’t speak of “rights” But then you could ask them how much safety must be proven before vaccination becomes mandatory. As I recall, when the polio vaccine came out, it became mandatory within just a few years, and people were begging to get it.

b.) You could say that you have the right to decide for your own body, but not for the bodies of your kids, and therefore they should get vaccinated. But this doesn’t work because parents make decisions about the medical treatment of their kids all the time, especially before the kid is sentient enough to make its own choice, which is at a pretty advanced age. For school vaccinations, the parents have to agree by the time the child is five or six.  (Note as well that parents feel that have the right to decide their children’s religious beliefs before the kids are old enough to choose!)

c.) The parents could say that they have the alternative of no employment if they’re not vaccinated, but there’s no alternative for their kids if they’re not vaccinated. That’s not entirely true: there is homeschooling, which is free, and private (often religious) schools that don’t require vaccination. But The latter are often pricey.

d.)_ They are willing to risk getting Covid, but the children are too young to afford that risk. But this reverts back to a) above: if the vaccine isn’t risky for your children, why is it risky for you? (In fact, it’s more dangerous for adults to get Covid than for kids).

There is more to discuss here, but I won’t get into it. I’m just curious why parents who obediently let their kids be vaccinated (even with COVID shots for college!) turn into enraged don’t-tread-on-me” types when it’s their own jabs at issue.

If there’s a rational answer, I would say that a)—proven safety and effectiveness—would be the one, but of course the Covid data so far shows that the risk is minor compared to the effectiveness. Certainly we know that the chance of illness, hospitalization, and death is greatly reduced for adults if they get the shot (we’re talking about resistance of adults to getting vaccinated). Vaccination for adults is, without doubt, a net good save for those who are medically compromised.

But I suspect that more is at stake here—perhaps ideology.  People have largely lost control of their lives during the pandemic, and refusing shots is a way of getting control, and also of showing the government that they can’t control you. This is likely connected with a conservative or libertarian ideology that opposes government intervention. In the case of the truckers, it seems to me they’re pissed off about a lot of things, including  loss of jobs and rising prices, and protesting against vaccines is the nucleus around which these resentments coalesce.

But maybe I’m not asking a meaningful question. It’s just that when I see a bunch of angry people yelling about “rights” and “bodily autonomy” on television, it makes me wonder whey they go all quiet when the needle goes into the arms of their kids.

82 thoughts on “Vaccinations in school; why shouldn’t they be the parent’s “choice”?

  1. It could be you are looking for reason where there is none. I have no idea what causes some people to get all high and mighty over a vaccine. Much of it is tribal and there is little sense in tribal thinking. The current actions up in Canada are the same and what you have is the people making all the noise get the coverage. Even when it makes no sense as 90 percent of the truckers are vaccinated. How do the people in the military service who get many vaccines suddenly protest this one. I see a phony cause in all of it. There are hundreds of things you do because society and the law require it. If you decide you don’t have to do these things then run off into the woods and live there. Don’t stand in front of others and throw a fit. It just makes you look like an ass.

    1. Yep. It’s totally phoney. It’s all a right wing financed operation to rile up this minority and cause mayhem because they don’t like the government we voted in in September. The vaccination rate in Ontario is very high with over 80% fully vaccinated. 90%, as you say, of truckers are vaccinated. Trucking associations spoke out against this convoy from the beginning. This really has nothing to do with mandates or truckers despite what the pawns on the ground think and it’s such a vocal minority with vehicles they can use as weapons that it seems, to me, that they are wagging the dog.

      1. “Trucking associations spoke out against this convoy from the beginning.”

        I think the truckers ought not do what they’re doing. That said, I may be wrong, but I perceive trucking associations, whose officers inhabit executive suites and not truck cabs, are much more concerned about their business/profits than about their human resources/capital, the truckers. The former can more likely count on a decent night’s sleep, in much more accommodating digs, than the latter.

    2. Point of information: Even if 90% of the country’s truckers are vaccinated (and do we know that to be reasonably true, or might it be a misleading or even outright wrong statistic?), then 10% of the entire country’s truckers is still a very large number. More than enough to form a large protest if a substantial number join in.

  2. I believe they are invoking high-falutin’ Principles like Liberty and Body Sovereignty and Medical Freedom and/or using the Experimental Medical Procedure boogieman and/or the ridiculous idea of a Religious Exemption all to assuage the deep guilt they feel for their essentially selfish refusal to participate in a uniformly beneficial public-health effort.

  3. COVID seems to be a symbol of government interference for libertarians. Being detached from real truth they’ve convinced themselves that it’s an exaggerated threat, mostly a lefty hoax to bring down their president. And they are not going to play the game, the fools.

  4. I think it’s because the Covid jab doesn’t protect against transmission as much as the others, so it isn’t perceived as having the same vaccine status as the others. If the Covid vaccine is added to the list of jabs kids are required to get, we’ll likely see a lot of pushback, especially because so many children have already had Covid.

    There are parents who will argue that having chicken pox or measles isn’t that bad for kids (all of mine are up to date on their vaccines, including HPV) but they don’t recognize the other reasons for those vaccines, ie. Chicken Pox vax protects against shingles later in life.

    My hypothesis is that it comes down to transmission. If it’s only to protect yourself from severe disease, one wonders why they don’t have that choice. They don’t see that a 30% decrease in transmission is worth it.

    1. Yes, most people resisting vaccination are cultist fools.

      But there are vaccine-equity questions too, even if people were operating under perfect information which of course they aren’t. Childhood vaccines protect children, including the unborn, in the case of rubella. Covid vaccines (and other pandemic measures) protect chiefly the very old*, the obese, and some racial minorities. I’m not including the immunocompromised because vaccine efficacy in that population has been disappointing. If after shutting down the economy you compel vaccination in people outside the tribe of people who get most of the personal benefit, in order to protect that tribe even further with herd immunity, you will get pushback. Some people who are at low personal risk of getting seriously ill don’t care enough about the high-risk tribe to take any scary vaccine risk at all on their behalf. Equity cuts both ways. We do take delight at stories of unvaxxed people who died because they underestimated their own actual risk of severe disease but we’re not any of us so good at risk assessment. (Those who believe people die with Covid, not of it, are especially vulnerable.)

      Now, add in the Omicron information that we are never going to get herd immunity with any currently available vaccine, even at 100% uptake, because the R(e) is too high even with mask mandates and efficacy at preventing symptomatic transmission (~65%) is too low. Then the argument for compelled vaccination evaporates….except in terms of the social obligation to reduce your risk of needing a publicly funded ICU bed. This motivates some people, not others.

      The vaccine-passporting system is about to disintegrate in Ontario — and surely soon at the border—because two doses is not enough to interrupt Omicron and three doses (then four?) to get a QR is just not going to happen. Only about 50% of us have been boosted, including me and everyone I know. The ones who “knew” all along that this would be so, from “doing their own research”, feel especially vindicated.

      Sure, the state has the right to compel vaccination, as I’ve argued before. But, as King Canute showed his knights, it doesn’t have the power to. Nor can you shame people into altruism unless you can convince them their immortal souls are at risk.
      * Ontario had over 1000 deaths in January, our worst month in a year, despite 90% of people over 12 vaccinated. 80% were over 70, so some presumably stale-vaccinated, and 60% were over 80. Hospital census was double any previous wave but the ICUs weathered the storm this time, likely thanks to vaccination.

  5. I think it’s as simple as the fact that, prior to COVID, vaccination has never really been an issue to be exploited by right wing activists. Now that it has been, it will be interesting to see if that has any effect on attitudes toward childhood vaccinations.

    1. There are “shots” that doctors give, routinely, to children that aren’t vaccinations?
      I’m not a parent (thank Ceiling Cat! and Marie Stopes) so there may be some bizarre ritual I’m unaware of, but I can’t think of anything that gets injected into children’s arms (outside a hospitalisation) which isn’t a vaccine. Educate me. please!

      1. A poor attemp to illustrate the “apathy of intellect” that many of the antivaxx community exhibit. It’s one of many reasons our politics, imo, have devolved into cultural flame wars on the national stage while machinations behind the scenes continue to grind out the poor results of the status quo.

            1. Just sayin there’s inhalers for insulin. Insulin is not a vaccine. Inhalers are not subcutaneous needle “shots”.

              Come to think of it, they had flu vaccine people could inhale too – I guess it didn’t work well.

      2. Insulin?

        Patient gives to self, but nurse can too.

        Just sayin’ – not sure its a pill yet, if ever. I’d have to, ya know, read…. maybe wake up, drink some coffee…. [ rubs eyes]

  6. We don’t have mandatory childhood vaccinations in the UK, so the experience here is different but there have certainly been anti-vaxxers spreading misinformation about jabs for children for many years and not getting their own offspring immunised. I’m not sure if that misinformation predates the Lancet/Andrew Wakefield case, although I suspect so (it certainly gave rocket boosters to hesitancy about the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) triple jab).

    BTW, Our World in Data has a map of which countries mandate, recommend, etc. vaccines for children:

  7. I think it is pretty clear that if the Biden administration banned covid vaccines, all these anti-vaxxers would be demanding it. It is plain old opposition for the sake of it. There are lots of causes for the underlying discontent, and it is showing up in Canada and Europe and Australia as well as the USA.

      1. That’s easier when they are on foot. Here they are in big rigs and laying on horns 24/7 until they were forced to stop through an injunction. Imagine how it would be to live with that downtown. People think “it’s just honking” but these sounds are literally deafening. Anyone that downplays it I dare them to move them and their family there and listen to it. There are reports of babies who can’t sleep. Imagine the harm to their ears! The big mistake that was made was letting the rigs into Ottawa at all. They should not have been allowed to drive in. They should have been allowed on foot only.

        1. +1

          Residents of downtown Ottawa when interviewed have repeatedly reported that they are jeered and taunted for wearing masks. Outsiders are intimidating people in their own home neighbourhood. “Freedom” my foot.

          1. Oh yes and supporters will say this is all made up. No it isn’t. Trying to break into houses, defeating on front lawns and stoops, harassing women. Basic bullying and intimidation. And they have their ex cops and ex military among them to help secure food and gas and to know how to barricade with cars to prevent police coming in easily. Now they have brought their children with them so police don’t want to use tear gas etc.

            1. Defeating = defecating. My iPhone doesn’t like that word I guess. So crapping.

              And the irony is them screaming they have no freedom as the drive across the country, honk horns and lay siege to a city. Yeah you’re really oppressed.

              1. Based on what I’m seeing on CBC TV news, the police effort to clear the blockade at the Windsor bridge seems to be fizzling out. The reporter there said the number of police has decreased and the number of protesters has increased. How on earth was the number of protesters allowed to increase? I’m trying to figure out the access there—perhaps protesters can simply walk through the campus of the University of Windsor. Are the police waiting till late at night to act, when they feel some of the protesters will have left?

                The CBC cameras are showing plenty of children. How can parents bring their children into a volatile dangerous situation like this? Earlier the CBC interviewed a criminology professor and he was asked whether the children in these protests could be considered human shields. He responded that although many people were reluctant to admit it, the children absolutely were human shields. I find this situation very discouraging. The protesters seem despicable, but the authorities seem inept.

              2. Yeah I read that the cops got the trucks moved out but people were accumulating behind police lines. That’s fine. People on foot are less of a problem. They can be arrested for criminal mischief if they interfere with anything. I think people wandering in in this protest just think it’s something to see. Looky loos and maybe trouble makers. I hope it doesn’t get violent.

                And I think the authorities are more than capable. It’s my impression they are on the side of the occupiers.

              3. And then there is this in Ottawa, “Police stood by as thousands of demonstrators flooded onto Wellington Street, which runs in front of the Parliament Buildings and the Prime Minister’s Office, and other streets in the city centre.” From

                Police stood by. No one arrested for carrying open alcohol or smoking pot on public. I’m convinced this is an insurrection and the police are enabling.

              4. If they’ve managed to get the trucks out of the Windsor blockade then most of the battle is won. Perhaps the police are simply waiting for the kiddies to go home to bed to clear the rest of the protesters. Unless the police are on the protesters’ side. I sure hope you’re wrong about that.

              5. Yeah I hope I’m wrong too but I think they have more police support than we imagine given the ex military, ex cops, and ex RCMP In the ranks of the protestors.

              6. A friend of mine worked at the RCMP for a little while (I think as a summer student). She was perturbed at how right-wing the people were there. This was decades ago but things may not have changed much.

        2. Here they are in big rigs and laying on horns 24/7

          In a built-up area, and within the hours of darkness (I can’t remember if it’s civil twilight or nautical twilight, but “Meh”)?
          Well, that’ll be mandatory fines, if not points on their driving licenses, leading fairly rapidly to loss of said driving license if they persist.
          I infer that the police are choosing to not exercise their duties. Deeply suspicious, that.

  8. Just imagine if a new variant came along that was lethal in kids, parents would be screaming why didn’t we vaccinate them when we could

  9. Some states require car insurance in order to register a car.

    Some states require home owner’s … maybe renter’s … to lease or get a mortgage.

    Perhaps the risk calculations show the cost is too high.

    Then there’s the teachers’ unions that set working conditions.

    What that adds up to I do not know.

  10. The vaccination protests, particularly those of the truckers in Ottawa and at the US/Canada border,
    are reminiscent of the demonstrations by the gilets jaunes in France 3-1/2 years ago. These too
    started with truckers, whose initial gripe was over fuel taxes and fuel prices. These protests developed into a larger program of sorts, but almost surely reflected a generalized discontent—which I think also underlies the newer anti-vaccine protests. Logical inconsistency, like that regarding vaccination, does
    not diminish generalized discontent. One might wonder what new outlets that discontent may find.

    1. There are similar anti vaxx mandate trucker protests brewing across Europe. An NPR bit described incredibly ignorant claims from French protestors that could have come straight from MAGA country, USA.

    2. “..These protests developed into a larger program of sorts, but almost surely reflected a generalized discontent..” ??

      Do you, or anybody else here, have even the slightest evidence that the sentiment WITHIN Canada is any more favourable now than it was at the beginning of this so-called ‘truckers’ protest’? It sounds, from the (perhaps too small amount of) news I’ve heard, that exactly the opposite might be true.

      I suspect that many non-Canadians are taken in by the fact that there are now a bunch of copycats in other countries.

      And I do wonder why the cops haven’t been perhaps pressganged into actually arresting people who have been breaking the law. Some protests are necessary–many years ago, even in Canada we protested the Vietnam war, but the protests mostly followed requirements of permits for them, and in any case we were prepared to get busted if that was necessary.

      The politicians maybe think police action will worsen the situation. But as soon as there was finally a court injunction, the cops in Windsor are finally today acting. It required some big business to start losing money, as well as their workers losing as well I imagine, to finally get real action.

      When the NYT reporter actually confronted a few of these dickhead Rush Limphead truckers with questions such as what exactly they would ask Trudeau to do if they got such an opportunity, all they got was dumb pap such as “Act like he’s a man of the people”. I assume he is reporting in a balanced way, though it’s unlikely to be statistically meaningful as evidence. There are plenty of big machines which could shift these trucks in a sec.

      1. The politicians cannot direct the police, much less pressgang them. (The RCMP, being in some senses a gendarmerie whose Chief is appointed by the Prime Minister, might be different but they don’t do local policing anywhere in Ontario.)
        Ontario police have long memories. An Ontario Premier 40 years ago exclaimed, “I want those fucking Indians out of the park.” One Dudley George got shot dead and the cops were hung out to dry. Ever since, the progressive policing model has been to intervene only if the demonstrators are disturbing the peace with actual violence. (The Natives are still occupying Ipperwash Park, by the way.)

        The police must, legally, enforce Court injunctions. But they generally don’t if the PR backlash is likely to be adverse. If the media support the protest, as they invariably do for leftist or Native causes, won’t happen. So the politicians avoid asking for Court injunctions except in extremis as it reflects badly on the Court for it to issue injunctions that won’t be obeyed by the protesters or enforced by the police. Private property owners, like railways, ask for injunctions early as they cannot be seen to be condoning the trespass. But they don’t get enforced, either, unless the police are shamed into it.

        If you wonder why the trucks are still in Ottawa, that’s why.

        1. Surely there’s something like an Ottawa police commission? Surely the police chief hasn’t got utterly complete discretion.

    3. The Yellow Vests are the same people here in Canada. They were part of the protests that menaced environmental protests by driving their trucks there and honking. Exact same group that organized that protest as this one.

  11. The right-wing propaganda machine has made opposing COVID vaccine mandates the new darling of its kulturkampf nursery.

  12. Rubella is the most interesting of the required vaccines because it’s not a particularly dangerous disease for most people, but causes birth defects. So the only reason to get the vaccine is to protect others.

    An important factor in the anti-vax movement is that it is incited by a huge amount of misinformation from right wing media, leading that crowd to sincerely believe that the covid vaccines are more dangerous than the disease, that it causes infertility and birth defects, and all sorts of other nonsense.

  13. American citizens have been told so many times how free they are that some assume the government can’t tell them what to do, at least not unless they volunteer to be in a special environment. If you join the army, the army can tell you what to do. If you put your kid in a school, they can be told what to do. The problem with COVID is that you are placed in one of these special categories, the infectable and the infecters, without doing anything out of the ordinary. In order to protect the population from disease, the government wants to tell you what to do. That wasn’t true before COVID but it is true now and you didn’t do nuthin’!!! It’s an outrage, I tell you!!!

  14. There are multiple reasons for vaccination obstinacy. Part of it is cultivated by GOP politicians and their outlets like FOX News and OAN, they are smart enough to know the benefits of COVID vaccinations but throw out anti-vaxx statements like raw meat to their base, or couch their statements as “personal choice regarding one’s body” (funny how they think that does not apply to abortion). Part of it is the selfishness of people who won’t even wear a mask. And there is a large segment of the population that is immune to facts and logic–the people who genuinely believe that lizard people are running the country and Hillary Clinton drinks the blood of babies.

    If today’s USA had to go through what the population did during WWII, with rationing and shortages, we would not make it. As Isaac Asimov said, “There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there has always been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.”

    1. One of the greatest of American historians (some would say THE greatest), Richard Hofstadter, wrote a book entitled “Anti-Intellectualism in American Life.” He wrote this back in 1963. So, what we see today is the continuance of a sad tradition. Ignorance today is perhaps as appalling as ever and has the potential to destroy the country. Here is a discussion of Hofstadter and his work.

      1. Between QAnon, Pizzagate, anti-vaxxers, the Big Lie and the like, we’ve certainly seen a resurgence of Mr. Hofstadter’s The Paranoid Style in American Politics.

        Robert Welch, Jr.’s John Birch Society of the late 1950s — which accused Dwight Eisenhower of being “conscious, dedicated agent of the communist conspiracy” — would fit comfortably in what passes for the mainstream of today’s GOP.

  15. I read this, and the comments, with a cartoonish question mark floating over my head.

    They DO fight vaccination requirements for school attendance. They have been for many years. That is one of the core drivers, hand in hand with the religious education angle, of the voucher movement. Many of these parents home-school, but most prefer vouchers because home-schooling is a pain in the butt. Depending on the state, there may be only exemptions for medical reasons only (and a cottage industry in the medical community providing documentation, for a fee), to religious objection, or “philosophical” objections. See:

    There is more political posturing now, but the same players are running the game. I currently reside, and teach at several levels, in NJ. A liberal, well educated state, you might think. Once you leave a few small areas, though, hardcore conservative, Trumpist, libertarian. Mid summer, there are kids in the grocery store with preventable diseases (the visible rash, long sleeves, mittens to reduce scratching, and so on are a pretty good cue) as the parents openly hold chicken pox parties. Reputedly measles, as well, but I have no direct evidence. I am less than 30Km from a world class medical school and bio-med research university, we have major centers and headquarters for roughly half of a dozen major pharmaceutical companies here, but the locals reject germ theory.

    California has had battle after battle through the last decade about mandatory vaccination for schools, and it is the same in most states in hte US. Florida is a truly bizarre space here, with a governor that does everything he can to discourage vaccination, a prohibition against requiring vaccination for COVID-19, and a strong push to ban all vax requirements (I haven’t been following the game in Fla. over the last few months as I don’t live there and was kind of busy dealing with the acute and lingering results of the pestilence provided the local freedom fighters. I can taste strong flavours, again, finally. Wasabi peas for the win. Nothing subtle yet.)

    1. (and a cottage industry in the medical community providing documentation, for a fee)

      Don’t the regional medical registration bodies have professional standards authorities? IIRC, after getting struck off the UK’s medical register, Mr (no longer “Dr”) Wakefield has gone to the US where he is not permitted to practice – other than appearing on chat shows and speaking at idiocy conventions.

      the parents openly hold chicken pox parties.
      […] the locals reject germ theory.

      I think that very clearly they do accept germ theory.
      I do hope that the cognitive dissonance going on here leads to “Mars Attacks” -like headaches. Green slime and everything. Please get video!

  16. Why? The great majority of the refuseniks are of a conservative/libertarian bent, and refusing the vaccines have become part of their political identity. The vaccines are new, weird (RNA vaccines??) and they were developed and released quickly. They don’t understand its about the diameter of the research pipeline, not the time in the research pipeline. But in their newness, there are meanwhile too many posts from fellow refuseniks on TwitterTube saying they are dangerous. That is enough for them o dig in and double down agin”em.

  17. On the subject of Canadian truckers, we have GOP flamethrowers trying to get American truckers to disrupt the Super Bowl and beyond:

    Rand Paul urges truckers to disrupt Super Bowl and come to D.C.: ‘I hope they clog up cities’

    That guy is really despicable. Going after Dr. Fauci wasn’t enough. Now he’s trying to go after our national game. How can MAGA folks think this is a good thing?

    1. “..our national game..”

      Facetiously, I’ll mention not realizing there was some date when baseball had been toppled from its pedestal.

      Isn’t lacrosse somehow that for Canada? If so, a good quiz question—not so good if hockey (‘ice’ surely needn’t be mentioned, though ‘field’ would be!).

      1. Well, I didn’t really mean to imply the Super Bowl was the only “national game”, which is why I didn’t capitalize it. Still, the biggest is the Super Bowl and it’s not even close.

        2017 Superbowl viewers ~111M

        2017 NBA finals Game 5 ~25M (Making it one of the highest watched Finals Game)

        2016 World Series Game 7 ~40M

        The fact that it is one game rather than a series, and always on a Sunday known years in advance, gives it an advantage over the others.

        1. As for me, the sport I follow as spectator is Curling. But I only became a fan after seeing Homer and Marge Simpson engage in this sport for their Winter Olympics.

          1. Its strategies are just too complicated for this math prof. However a good friend, same profession, was so keen as a spectator, he’d go as far as Halifax, halfway across Canada, to spectate the national curling championships, mainly because of finding the strategies so interesting.

            1. I’m not a math prof but work as a survey statistician and studied pure math at university. I’ve yet to figure out curling strategy. By far the most complicated of any sport I know.

          2. As for me, the sport I follow as spectator is Curling.

            Someone has managed to make a game out of hairdressing?
            That news has increased the likelihood of me watching the Olympics by an almost infinite factor.

    1. Wow, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., was wrong about a thing. Imagine that.

      The slippery-slope argument you’re suggesting is made all the more slippery by being built on an equivocation fallacy regarding the word “compulsory.” Vaccinations are made “compulsory” by mandates in the sense that someone who refuses them may forfeit certain privileges and opportunities. They are not “compulsory” in the sense that someone can be taken into custody, strapped down on a gurney, and have a syringe forced into his or her arm — which would be analogous to Carrie Buck’s being ordered by a court to undergo forced sterilization.

      1. My position is that the state could do exactly that if it was facing an existential threat to its survival. If smallpox were let loose on a population that has not seen vaccination since 1975 or so, it absolutely would. The alternative would be to accept death of a third of the population and blindness in many survivors with no one to feed them. Smallpox outbreaks, typically from a single imported case, in the decade or so before eradication were managed with progressive ring vaccination of contacts, with secure quarantine of contacts who could not be given live vaccine, and careful surveillance for disease beyond each ring. But that was in a time when almost everyone had been vaccinated once in infancy. Today, the apparatus of the state might well collapse, as everyone just went home to spend their last days with loved ones. There wouldn’t be enough vaccine anyway.

        To prevent that catastrophe, the state would compel vaccination for as long as it could, in hopes of containing it. There are no inalienable rights when the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse are riding.

      2. I don’t recall expressing an opinion on the issue.

        Although it’s irrelevant, I got the three Moderna shots; if I were 25 rather than nearly 70 with “conditions”, I wouldn’t have bothered.

        The Lancet has opinions (keep in mind that “mandatory” = required by law or rules; compulsory.)

        “On Dec 9, 2021 the Austrian Government laid a bill before parliament that would impose a mandatory COVID-19 vaccination requirement for all its residents. This move followed the Greek Prime Minister’s announcement to impose fines on residents aged 60 years and older who do not take up COVID-19 vaccination. Many other nations are contemplating similar mandates or have adopted mandates in certain workplace settings, such as Australia, Brazil, Canada, France, Indonesia, Italy, and the UK. Some people resist vaccine mandates on pragmatic grounds, for example, that such mandates could decrease health-care staffing levels or morale.

        However, mandatory vaccination is also often opposed in principle. The UK Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, Sajid Javid, for instance, told the BBC on Dec 10, 2021 that he thought mandatory vaccination is “unethical”. Many others presume mandatory vaccination violates human rights. We believe that this view is mistaken, at least as a matter of international and comparative constitutional law.”


        From mid-March the [Austrian] law will see adults unvaccinated against Covid-19 subjected to fines of up to €3,600 (£2,994).

        What happens to people who don’t pay their fines? They get jailed.

      3. which would be analogous to Carrie Buck’s being ordered by a court to undergo forced sterilization.

        Would the incarceration (for several decades, on several occasions, IIRC) of “Typhoid Mary” be a relevant counter example?

        1. No need to go back into history. Treatment of the contagious (pulmonary) forms of tuberculosis is compulsory in, I will say all, jurisdictions with functioning public health systems. Most people are happy to comply with treatment that will cure a fatal disease. But some people just can’t be reasoned with and will not take their pills. There are mechanisms in the public health laws to incarcerate these people under an order from the Court or the Crown, depending. They don’t have to be psychotic to be held under a public health order, although many are. They are held until they are far enough along in treatment to be no longer contagious and look to be good risks to complete treatment outside the hospital. This will usually be directly observed therapy three days a week at some agreed homeless location but if they don’t show up to meet the health worker with the pills, they get locked up again.

          The occasional person who refuses to swallow pills, from extreme paranoia, say, will be sedated, restrained, and dosed through a feeding tube, even if he is otherwise competent to refuse psychiatric or other medical treatment.

          This link is a fragment of the current American CDC advice to the states around best practices for incarceration for the involuntary treatment of tuberculosis.

          Of course this applies to a patient diagnosed as having a dangerous contagious disease, not someone who merely refuses preventive vaccination. It just shows that you do not have an unfettered right to refuse medical treatment if your refusal puts other at risk.

  18. I’m a triple vaxxed doctor (specialising in anaesthetics and intensive care), who has had covid (March 2020), and who believes this vaccine is safe and effective. I think it’s beyond stupid to lose your job over this vaccine, fail to get an organ transplanted, etc., etc..

    But, playing devil’s advocate, how serious does a disease have to be before vaccine’s are mandated? Because, right now, it seems to be somewhere between the flu and covid and I’m not entirely surprised that some people don’t agree with that cut off.

    Covid acts more at the population level (where a mortality difference of 0.5%, say, results in tens/hundreds of thousands of extra deaths). For the vast majority, however, they won’t have anything more debilitating than a runny nose. Many won’t even know they have it.

    The childhood diseases currently requiring mandatory vaccination are, on the whole, at least perceived to be a lot more dangerous than covid. Would you rather meningitis or covid? TB? Small pox (back in the day)? Polio? Tetanus? If I HAD to choose one infection to get it would almost certainly be covid.

    I imagine that there will be a lot more resistance to mandatory vaccination of children for covid and more home schooling.

    Again, bevause I know this is a controversial topic, I’m pro-vax, have always been first in line for the yearly flu job, believe and trust in the covid vaccine, and vaccinate my kids.

    1. I think some of this depends on how much of a burden your ICU and hospitals can take. Right now 83% of ICU patients are covid. That’s too high. That causes others to be overlooked for other issues that require ICU. In Canada, we have focused on not overwhelming hospitals. We don’t have the same capacity as the US does for our hospitals.

      1. True, and certainly important from a policy (vax mandates) intervention point of view.

        But for your average person you’ll never know or care about your local ICU’s capacity. You, as an individual, are very unlikely to ever come to harm because your hospital’s ICU is over capacity simply because you’ll never need it.

        Where I work the ICU is at/over capacity the majority of the time and that’s without covid. This is true of the other major hospitals in my city. Elective surgery is cancelled routinely, both for shortage of high dependency beds and low acuity beds.

        In that context, if ICU capacity is your deciding factor, all vaccines should be mandated for all people. Even one case of covid (or flu or whatever) burdens an already over capacity system. Scales are, of course, different, which again leads to the question where do you draw the line? Where should policy makers draw it?

        Hospitals in the UK/NHS go far beyond capacity every winter and a significant number of the patients are sick with flu. Shouldn’t the flu vax be mandated?

        1. Yes we don’t normally cancel cancer surgeries. The COVID surge has caused this to happen. It has also exhausted our health care workers. I think this is should be and is the priority of Canada’s response in most provinces to mandates. And the only mandated I think were federal and provincial infrastructure and government. The government never said that private sectors had to require vaccination. This was the silliness with restaurants where servers were not required to be vaccinated but patrons were.

      2. Just a factual correction, Diana, not an argument. Your statement that 83% of ICU patients are Covid is incorrect and gives an overly gloomy impression of the impact of Covid on Ontario hospital care.

        From, the correct figures for 25 Jan, the date of peak ICU Covid census for the current wave are:

        Adults in ICU with Covid: 615 out of a total ICU establishment of 2343 beds, = 26.2%.
        There were 1275 patients in ICU with other diseases and 453 empty beds on that day.
        Discharges from ICU have, thankfully, exceeded admissions since then such that the current Covid census in ICU is down to 407 = 17.3 % of total beds.

        This figure for “with Covid disease” includes patients who are still testing positive (acutely ill) and patients admitted to ICU with Covid disease who are now testing negative but still require intensive care owing to the sub-acute-chronic complications of Covid. This “Covid disease but now Covid-negative” subset grows as the wave of acute disease ebbs away because it comprises people who will have very long stays in ICU, ventilator-dependent, most of whom will eventually die. As you may know, the most common cause of death in any ICU now is that families agree to stop life support but this can take many weeks. Anecdotally, nearly all these unfortunate people are unvaccinated.

        The Ministry of Health says it is confident that the hospitals can manage this burden of Covid disease and still allow resumption of scheduled surgery on Monday, and proceed with the larger plans to ease pandemic restrictions to re-open Ontario.

        You may have been confused by the pie chart on the same page that shows that about 80% of Covid-positive patients in the ICU are there because of clear Covid disease; the other 20% are there for some other reason (like a car wreck or sepsis from another cause) and for whom the positive Covid test was an incidental finding The government started doing this a couple of months ago to address claims that it was inflating the hospital burden from Covid by calling everyone in the hospital who tested positive a “Covid patient”. I can offer arguments why this division was artificial and unnecessary but that’s for another day.

        For comparison, the very worst day for Ontario’s ICUs was 1 May 2021 when there were 889 patients with Covid out of then 2342 beds, 38%. Even then there were still 368 available beds, not all with capacity for prolonged mechanical ventilation, of course, and some hospitals in hot zones had more critically ill patients than they could look after. Helicopters to the rescue..

        1. I think I mistyped that. I meant that 83% of ICU occupants with COVID were unvaccinated.

          Every day I get the updated numbers from the Toronto star. Here is today’s for Ontario. I like this because it breaks down who came in and went to the ICU because of COVID. They used to report who in the ICU was vaccinated and who was not but I haven’t see that stat lately.

          Ontario reporting 1,704 people hospitalized with COVID-19, 414 in ICU
          53 per cent were admitted to the hospital for COVID-19 and 47 per cent were admitted for other reasons but have tested positive for COVID-19.

          Andrew Morris has an interesting discussion of the authoritarianism of health care in his latest update.

          1. >I think I mistyped that. I meant that 83% of ICU occupants with COVID were unvaccinated.

            Well, OK, but that’s not correct either. Today, the Ministry’s pie chart (same reference as above) shows, of ICU patients:
            Unvaccinated 117
            Partly vaccinated 15
            Fully vaccinated 150

            So 47% of the ICU patients are either unvaccinated or have had only one dose. As has been explored extensively elsewhere this is not an apples-to-apples comparison of vaccine effectiveness because of different denominators. It was an error for the public health authorities to let this statistic get embedded in the public’s mind. When vaccination was first ramping up, it was observed with glee that almost all the hospital admissions were occurring among the unvaccinated. Obviously, because for many weeks they were a majority of the population. But as the number of vaccinated steadily rose, inevitably a greater proportion of general admissions, and then ICU admissions, would have to occur among that vaccinated large majority (unless vaccines were 100% effective.) Public health should really stop reporting this statistic but then the anti-vaxxers would say they were hiding something.

            Off to read Andrew Morris. I like him.

  19. Trudeau can only manage things from a Federal perspective which means he could enact the Emergencies Act but that has consequences 1) using the military against civilians 2) when the Emergencies Act is enacted every action must be investigated with a fine tooth comb after (a good thing since leaders won’t enact it lightly. So Trudeau’s moxie isn’t in question. Trudeau says that they are not right now making that choice for enacting the Emergencies Act because there are other options available that they haven’t tried yet but will be (and are now). There were tri-lateral meetings (premier, PM, city of Ottawa) our Premier (Ontario) refused to take part but once manufacturing plants started laying off workers, I think he had no choice and enacted a State of Emergency for Ontario so that police have more powers protecting infrastructure.

    Ottawa also had its 911 lines flooded and almost disabled by calls last week and most of the calls originated in the US. So this is a coordinated effort by right wing extremists on both sides of the border and the so-called truckers have among them former RCMP and police. It was organized by far-right groups (Maverick party) in Alberta from the start. They just cut off funding from the US Christian organization Give Send Go.

    Right now there has been stronger police action with provincial and feds but I don’t think this will all end peacefully and it’s clear whose side the police are on if you compare how the protests to stop logging old growth forests was handled in BC this summer.

  20. If iron lungs were part of Long-COVID, and there were pictures of a big room full of them, it would be different. As it is, ventilators and respirators have more or less taken their place, and people are used to seeing them.

  21. I think the simple answer is that, for most people, having their kids not go to a public school is more onerous than any privileges and opportunities forfeited by not being vaccinated for COVID. Also, more enduring, since presumably COVID will pass more quickly than the eight years your child would be deprived of schooling, in which case you’ll be home free. Assuming you’re not dead.

  22. Initially the COVID vaccines had not undergone the rigorous testing all pharmaceuticals/ vaccines undergo prior to their public release, and skepticism is rational in this case, and giving people the choice, parental consent included, is reasonable if the data available is transparently, not persuasively presented, and most people understand this subtelty. Other vaccines administered to kids have decades of data behind them and have been tested extensively, this provides a greater degree of confidence to parents and others and there are no rhetorical subtleties to listen to or decipher. The data strongly supports the benefits of other vaccines. Of course now the COVID vaccines have been given to 10^9 persons and there benefits are documented and so are there side effects – with bureaucratic obfuscation – to minimise the consequences of mandating a treatment that may have adverse consequences. But the initial unprecedented drive to COVID vaccinate everyone was itself extreme “vaccine ideology” and not empirically based to the extent that current entrenched vaccines are. This is a driver of skepticism for anyone rational especially parents heavily invested in their kids. ….and The Truckers are in “check” unless Trudeau uses violence.

  23. Pace, Sarah Haidar, I shall open by saying I have given tens of thousands of vaccines, and I’m glad I did. All vaccines carry some risk – in some cases negligible, and in others worth balancing up with the risk of the disease. The ideal vaccine, giving 100% protection with no chance of any side-effects does not exist, but people still approach the question of accepting a vaccine in terms of that trade off: how safe? How risky? I have always pointed out that this is the wrong question, the right one being this: Is it safer to have the vaccine or to take the risk of catching and suffering, and perhaps dying of the disease it prevents? There are multiple trade-offs that make this a bit too nuanced for some people. For example, a risky vaccine with serious side-effects might still be your best best in the face of a highly-infective and lethal disease, but the same vaccine might no longer be wise if the disease mutates and becomes rare and mild. A recent example would be the AZT vaccine, with a real but rare risk of a clotting disorder than can maim or kill. Definitely the wise choice in the initial wave as one was more likely to die of Covid than the clotting disorder. But now the virus is getting a bit less dangerous, maybe you’d choose to wait for a safer mRNA vaccine. Add another dimension, and if you live in the poorer parts of the third word, and your government can only afford the hand-me-down AZT vaccines from richer countries. Yes, the virus is milder there too, but on the other hand there are no anti-viral monoclonal antibodies, no CPAP, no ventilators, no extracorporeal oxygenation, in fact just no ICU. Perhaps then it is better to say yes to the AZT and be glad to have it.

    Understandably, people examine both the objective side and experience the emotional side of these choices more intensely when it comes to their children. But we have had compulsory vaccination since (literal) vaccination with vaccinia came along courtesy of Jenner. Incidentally, one of the safest and most effective vaccines ever, allowing the disease to be eradicated in the wild, something we can only say about one other – rinderpest. But there were riots over its imposition. People thought dying of smallpox better than submitting to “unproven new science”. Sounds familiar. Eventually, as it became obvious it worked well, saved all who received it, and hurt very very few with rare effects like eczema vaccinatum, the fuss died down. Probably it helped that the next great successful vaccines were largely directed at saving children from the major killers of childhood: tetanus, diphtheria, polio, pertussis, and then rubeola, rubella, mumps, varicella. Some of those appeared in my working lifetime, and many more since that can prevent earaches, meningitis, pneumonia, gastroenteritis and so on. Generally well-received and little fuss when required for school entry. Personally, I wouldn’t have nearly died age eight from mumps pancreatitis if there had been a vaccine. I would have two working ears instead of only slight hearing one one side if the vaccines against Hemophilus influenzae and Neisseria spp and Pneumococcus Spp that cause otitis media in childhood had been available. As a young doc I wouldn’t have watched helplessly as a kid died of chickenpox encephalitis if he’d had the vaccine (and for me, I would have the recurring bouts of shingles that keep reminding me I have CLL), nor would I have watched a teenager die of SSPE, a lale complication of childhood measles. My wife wouldn’t have seen kids die of tetanus and rabies in Kenya.

    One can’t help but feel the internet has put the rare naysayers in touch with each other so they may stir themselves to a righteous frenzy. They are entirely ignorant of those diseases, and quite unused to seeing their children at risk from them. Where I grew up in the UK, home schooling was not allowed, attendance at state school was compulsory, and vaccination was required for entry. So a hail mary kind of mandate, but accepted as normal. I don’t see these b*ggers claiming to be doing their own research turning down their Twinrix or Vivotif so they can dash off to Cancun, but I suppose there is a different calculus at work there. And I’m putting my money where my mouth is, and currently undergoing the entire childhood vaccination schedule at an accelerated rate (I have a virgin immune system after a BMT), involving up to six vaccinations at one time! Lovely…

    Apologies for the length, but it a topic I feel strongly about!

  24. Depending on what news source you read… parents ARE protesting forced vaccinations. Here’s the thing: the idea that unvaccinated people are more likely to spread is not supported by data. Actually, the data shows that vaccinated people are about equally likely to spread the virus. A false sense of security also resulted in about 40% of recent covid cases in hospitals being among the vaccinated. Forget about politics ! Put on your scientist cap and just count immune factors in people’s blood. The data shows that vaccinated people (having had all three shots) have about 750 immune factors in their blood against Covid. Those who had caught Covid and have had not been boosted at all have about 1300 avg immune factors. So just intuitively it would stand that if you had the infection, you’ve got the better immunity! And in fact recent studies from Qatar have shown this!

    1. Even if what you say about the 750 “immune factors” vs 1300 is true, it still has to pass the “So what?” test. Intuition and $2 will get you a cup of coffee at Tim Hortons but it won’t buy you a scientist cap. The big problem with touting natural immunity is that you have to take a chance on dying from the infection in order to achieve it. And you are seeing only the healthy survivors of that action. The people who most benefit from the vaccine are those who would most likely die if they got natural infection and would not be alive to brag about their supposedly superior natural immunity.

      Besides, our host’s original question, which I agree the rest of us wandered away from, too, was why do parents mostly go along with childhood vaccinations? You have sneakily shifted from childhood vaccinations to Covid vaccination without telling us.

Leave a Reply