Elli got a note from school this week telling me that she is going to be suspended unless I get her vaccinations up to date. Unsurprisingly this is just a paperwork / bureaucratic error as she has had all of her necessary shots. I got updated paperwork and resolved everything so no suspension is forthcoming but I did have a bit of a fit when reading over the notice that was sent to me about this whole mess. It read
"if this student needs an exemption from immunization against any disease listed for medical, religious, or conscience reasons"
This blew my mind. Obviously there could be medical reasons why a particular child couldn't have a vaccination and that seems perfectly reasonable to me. The point of vaccinations is to improve medical care after all! The idea that you can get a child out of immunizations for 'conscience' reasons seems utterly absurd to me though. So what, your conscience tells you that you should expose children to deadly, sometimes fatal, diseases because you don't like exposing your child to a momentary bit of pain? Deal with it, life is full of pain and we are in the business of minimizing it. Your conscience doesn't like putting things in your child's body? Have you managed to get them to give up eating and breathing then?
If you really, seriously want an exemption from getting vaccinations then feel free to pull your kids out of school. We can't force you to get needles but we can tell you that you aren't allowed to put everyone else's kids at risk just because you can't wrap your mind around the moral imperative of avoiding terrible plagues. If you want to put a word out there for people who want to skip vaccinations on the basis of "I don't feel like it" then use selfish instead of conscience. That pamphlet should read "medical, religious, or selfish reasons" instead. That would frame it in exactly the appropriate way.
Religious reasons, obviously, is exactly the same as conscience reasons except that you have an organization standing behind your selfish behaviour couching it in terms of obedience to God. The only practical difference is political clout.