Will the UnVaccinated Get Sued?

July 31, 2011 § 4 Comments

Here’s the scenario: you take your unvaccinated family oversees, get infected with measles or polio, then infect someone else when you return. Do they have the legal or moral right to sue you?

The legal situation will vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. But increasingly the moral argument is being raised. If you have refused to take up immunization for your children, you have put others at risk.

In the US, as of June 17, 156 confirmed cases of measles had been reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention this year; 136 of them involved unvaccinated Americans who had recently traveled abroad, unvaccinated visitors to the United States and people who didn’t travel but may have caught the disease from those who did.

The most vulnerable are those under 6 months old, for they have not been immunized at all. Infants 6 months through 11 months of age should have had at least one dose of measles vaccine, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Children 12 months or older should have had two doses separated by at least 28 days.

Measles is a  highly contagious disease that has always been a risk for travellers in the developing world, experts say. But the increase in cases in the United States and large outbreaks occurring in Europe are recent issues, stemming in part from fears of parents who refuse to vaccinate their children because they believe immunizations cause illnesses, particularly autism, even though multiple studies have found no reputable evidence to support such a claim.

Translation: the know-nothings who refuse to immunize are stupid. They haven’t bothered to read even the most basic literature explaining the situation; instead they have formed their half-witted opinions from gossip and fear-mongering websites.

The risks of catching diseases on overseas travel vary according to where you’re going and the quality of your accommodation. If you are going to Thailand, it’s different depending on whether you’re going to Bangkok,  a tourist beach resort or the northern jungles, and whether you plan to stay in a 5 star hotel or a backpackers.

But you need to consider the risks. If you travel unvaccinated, there is a  significant peril, particularly from highly contagious diseases such as measles which do not necessarily produce symptoms in carriers – ie you can have contact with a carrier without either of you being aware of it, and you can become a carrier without realizing that either.

Then if you pass the disease on to someone too young to be immunized, you will be responsible.

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