This is a conversation between Sam Harris (some of whose work I’ve discussed before) and Dr. Nina L. Shapiro, “director of pediatric otolaryngology and a professor at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA,” as stated in Harris’s introduction. If you’re a parent, this is an essential read regardless of your position on vaccines, but certainly an altogether more consequential one if you’re in any way opposed—or even simply unsure on what basis (and by whose authority) you should make decisions about vaccination and immunization for your child.
As both Harris and Shapiro repeat, your decisions have communal, wide-reaching consequences which extend far beyond the health of your own child and family unit, making your pediatric choices much greater a responsibility than perhaps you have even realized.
As excerpted from the interview:
“Harris: […] Again, what I think many people just don’t see is that we’re grappling here with the illusion that it is merely a personal choice. When you send your kid to school unimmunized, you are putting at risk someone in the school, or someone’s relative at home, who can’t get immunized for a real reason. Apart from the health of one’s own child—which is really best protected by getting the recommended vaccines—it is this cascade of effects that one should worry about.
Shapiro: Yes. But it is a challenge to convince people that it isn’t a personal choice. We hear this all the time: “I’ve made this decision for my family. This is best for my family.” But your family doesn’t live in a bubble. Your family lives in a community, and you have to have some level of social responsibility.”
Read the full text at SamHarris.org