Lecture: The Ethics of Vaccines by Dr. Martin Reis

Discussions about the ethics surrounding vaccinations bring up several interesting issues that are relevant not just with respect to vaccines but with respect to our outlook on the role and responsibility of the individual within the context of our larger society.

This talk will use the debate surrounding vaccinations to elucidate such topics as individual liberty and autonomy versus community responsibility. Concepts such as “free riders,” “herd immunity,” and the “social contract” will be explained. Finally, some controversies surrounding the alleged harms of vaccines will be addressed.

Dr. Martin Reis is an Assistant Professor of Radiology at St. Louis University and practices neuroradiology at St. Louis University Hospital and Cardinal Glennon Children's Medical Center. He has an interest in biomedical ethics. A native of St. Louis, Dr. Reis is also a member of the Ethical Society of St. Louis.

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  • Michelle

    I'm sorry for all the typos (writing and rewriting on my phone isn't ideal). If you want the numbers I pulled for my conclusion I kept them.

    If it was a duty to society v. duty to your child speech, I understand. However, it needs to be more honest on the risks (both of contracting said diseases and of severe complications in the US, in this decade -- we live with heard immunity so it should be taken into account for individual decision making).

    The argument of staying away from the heard is also fair -- just not the way it was stated. It would make sense to require proof of certain vaccinations for everyone entering the US ...'to reenter the heard'.

    October 21, 2013

  • Michelle

    It was a well prepared speech. Disappointingly, it was biased to the point of being intellectually dishonest. The 1 in 1000 odds of severe issues might be reasonable in undeveloped countries or in the 1940s, but not here and now.

    The character limit for this posting is too small for I wrote :-( I found lots of numbers, but the bottomline is even worst case with the diseases that the MMR prevents in the US right nowte odds of getting one with a serious complication is under 1 in a million for5years. So it is more difficult to justify risking your baby's health when the odds of a serious complication if your child doesn't travel out of the US is probably around the same either way maybe higher with the vaccine due to definite exposure rather than possible exposure (and maybe knowing an age to vaccine complication risk would help the odds as well).

    October 21, 2013

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