Someone with a loathing of guns can certainly refuse to have one in his home. And if he lives in a part of town that is otherwise heavily armed, his home can enjoy the same kind of safety from burglars as do the armed ones. Such is the nature of the world.
One of the reasons why we are even able to have a debate about vaccines is that vaccines have been so successful. The gunless fellow is certainly free to claim that his house is left alone because of the good vibes put out by his multi-colored wind chimes. We all think that’s cute, and are glad we live in a free country where there are guys like that.
But the analogy breaks down with something like whooping cough. That’s not so cute.
Now I do have views on the efficacy of vaccines, but I want to address another element of this — the idea that even if they were effective, a requirement that everyone get vaccinated is necessarily statist and tyrannical. Why isn’t this a matter of personal choice and conviction? The answer is that it is not a matter of personal choice because everyone else is involved.
“And the Lord spake unto Moses and Aaron, saying, When a man shall have in the skin of his flesh a rising, a scab, or bright spot, and it be in the skin of his flesh like the plague of leprosy; then he shall be brought unto Aaron the priest, or unto one of his sons the priests: And the priest shall look on the plague in the skin of the flesh: and when the hair in the plague is turned white, and the plague in sight be deeper than the skin of his flesh, it is a plague of leprosy: and the priest shall look on him, and pronounce him unclean. If the bright spot be white in the skin of his flesh, and in sight be not deeper than the skin, and the hair thereof be not turned white; then the priest shall shut up him that hath the plague seven days” (Lev. 13:1–4).
So take this as a very limited claim. This is not a claim that vaccines are always perfect, or that the side-effects are not a problem, or that frauds can never interfere with the science (as happened with the Lancet article which claimed a correlation with autism), and so on. This is a fallen world, and no problem of this nature can ever be addressed risk-free. The claim I am making here is very limited. If a person has decided personal convictions about the contagious disease he is carrying, the society in which he lives has an equal right to have decided and contrary convictions about that same contagious disease he has. And if there is an outbreak of such a disease, and the government quarantines everyone who is not vaccinated, requiring them to stay at home, the name for this is prudence, not tyranny.