Mandatory Vaccines

At TAPPED, Ann Friedman makes a case for mandatory HPV vaccination. I'm sure that this sort of proposal isn't going to do all that much for most people here at Catallarchy. I, however, am of mixed feelings. It seems to me that when it comes to something like vaccination, states do have something of an advantage over markets. Consider:

    1. Contagious diseases have at least some externalities. Even if you're willing to chance getting the flu and thus skip the vaccine, the elderly guy you run into at the coffee shop every morning might feel otherwise. Your getting sick increases his chances of getting sick.
    2. Vaccines are more effective as more people use them. If no one is getting the current version of the disease, then it gets fewer chances to mutate into something that is immune to the vaccine.
    3. It's possible to virtually eliminate some diseases with really widespread vaccination programs. See smallpox, for example.
    4. Drug R&D is expensive and pharmaceutical companies have to recoup their costs. Prices per dose reflect those R&D costs. A guaranteed market should translate into a lower cost-per-dose for everyone.

Making vaccination mandatory, then, appears to have a lot of benefits. The drawbacks? It interferes with my liberty to get sick if I want to. And it probably requires some funding to pay for vaccines for those who can't otherwise afford them.

I'm sure that there are others. I'm sure, too, that there's a good marketist solution to the problem of vaccination. I'd be willing to bet that such a solution already exists in our archives, for that matter. But as I'm feeling to lazy to look for it, I'll just throw out the question and wait for the collective wisdom of Catallarchy to enlighten me.

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