Last week I delivered a seminar at the University of Toronto Faculty of Law where I argued that governments accross Canada should enact and implement mandatory immunization for all childhood infectious diseases where there is overwhelming evidence of positive immunization outcomes. This position reflects my thinking on the best option for dealing with recurring outbreaks of measles and other previously eradicated or near-eradicated childhood infectious diseases in Canada.
I offered the following five reasons in support of this position:
1. Mandatory immunization, whether in the form of compulsory infantile vaccination or (as is currently the norm), requiring school pupils to provide proof of immunization prior to school enrollment, has been shown to be the most effective means of achieving widespread coverage of the population.
2. Pre- and post-Charter jurisprudence, and decisions by courts in other jurisdictions such as the U.K. and U.S. indicate that mandatory immunization strategies are a legally valid impairment of individual rights for the sake of protecting public health. Read this, this and this for more on this point.
3. The rate of adverse events arising from immunization for most childhood infectious diseases is very low or non-existent, and most cases involve minor side-effects.
4. Provinces without mandatory policies jeopardize gains in provinces with mandatory policies (presently Ontario and New Brunswick).
5. Enacting mandatory policies creates a positive obligation (on the part of the provincial governments) to address vaccine injuries. Except for Quebec, Canada and Russia are the only two G8 countries without a vaccine injury compensation scheme.
I will expand on these points in a forthcoming paper. Meanwhile, thoughts, comments, criticisms and objections are welcomed.