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Too Few Vaccinations?

Too few children get vaccinated.

It’s hard to believe, but a “panel of experts” says so, and they recommend the obvious: another federal program to force insurance companies to cover them, and more federal money to ensure universal vaccination.

So here’s another reason for the State to “intervene” in the medical business. Just one problem: Intervention is a bad idea, and everyone does not agree that all or any vaccines are necessary.

The Plan

The proposal comes from the Institute for Medicine.

We wanted “assure there was no one in this country who lacked the means to pay for vaccinations,” one panel member told the Associated Press, while another said we need “a system where access and availability isn’t something that occurs only if you’re lucky.”

Typical eggheads. They never shrink from telling everyone what they need and why they need it. And people with the financial resources to buy medical care aren’t smart and don’t work hard, they are “lucky.”

Anyhow, the plan suggests that government order all health insurance programs to cover vaccines, envisions government subsidies for the coverage and vouchers for inoculations.

Why? The government spends $1 billion annually on vaccines, AP reports, but that isn’t enough. “Too few” children get shots, which is curious given that a child needs vaccines to attend compulsory government schools.

Anyhow, the panel also worries that too few companies produce vaccines, which has created shortages. Thus, the news agency reports, government must “provide a stable market” and “encourage manufacturers.”

Well, yeah, it will encourage manufacturers. Free money does that.

Are Vaccines Necessary?

Free money, meaning government subsidies and mandates, is the first obvious problem with the proposal.

Illegitimate government subsidies will increase, we are told, but somehow, more spending will end the government’s role as the largest buyer of vaccines. This seems impossible, and probably is, but the important point is we don’t need more federal intervention in medicine. Medical care is screwed up enough, along with being too expensive, thanks to government intervention.

More importantly, it’s no forgone conclusion that everyone or even anyone needs the traditional childhood vaccines, such as diphtheria, pertussis (whooping cough) and tetanus.

Thanks to modern medicine, such diseases rarely kill, vaccines regardless. Ever hear of anyone dying of diphtheria lately? How about the mumps? It ain’t 1915 anymore.

The authorities recently ordered up chicken pox vaccinations. It was a dubious medical advance, given that chicken pox is a benign childhood disease that keeps a child home from a school for a few days and confers lifetime immunity. Then again, a key reason for the mandate was not to prevent chicken pox, but to prevent mothers who work outside the home from missing time at the office.

Doctors are not of one mind on vaccines. Some believe the risk of vaccines, such as autoimmune diseases, crippling reactions and perhaps even autism, are greater than the risks of the diseases.

Yet the “experts” conclude we need more vaccines and that taxpayers must foot the bill.

Not To Worry

This report is freighted with two assumptions, one of which is flat wrong, the other, dubious.

We don’t need more government intervention in medical care, and if anyone stopped poking needles long enough to ask some questions, we might learn it’s best to dispense with vaccinations, not increase them.

Not to worry, though. The experts and the government will keep inoculating with abandon. And taxpayers will help them.

August 6, 2003

Syndicated columnist R. Cort Kirkwood [send him mail] is managing editor of the Daily News-Record in Harrisonburg, Va.

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