Hi Damon: My best friend is an antivaxxer (not just covid, all vaccines). His wife too. They have a 9 month old baby and they have not vaccinated him. I babysit them every other weekend. Should I take the baby to get his injections without telling them?
Anonymously: My feelings about vaccinations are well documented. But in case you’re not familiar, a quick refresh:
I think I’ve reached the threshold of intellect where I’m just smart enough to know I’m not that smart. I have some gifts and some talents, I think. But with medical science, I trust that the PhDs and MDs who have spent thousands of hours and hundreds of thousands of dollars learning about it, and whose livelihood is based on preserving and applying that knowledge, know a lot more about it than I ever would. know. And I’m not just talking about a faceless wall of anonymous white-coated professionals, but about family and close friends. A neighbor. An ex-girlfriend. All doctors or science related PhDs are unanimous in their belief – no, plea — that everyone is vaccinated.
And look, I’m a black American. My skepticism about our health care system, based on my awareness of the deep racial disparities that exist within it – historical and contemporary – is justified. But, as I wrote in a New York Times essay last year, my desire to prevent more infection, disease, and death is a force greater than cynicism.
That said, I am also a parent of two small children. And if someone, against my will, took them to get vaccinated? Let’s say my editors advised me not to say what I would do to that person for legal reasons.
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What you are suggesting is reckless, blatant and possibly even criminal. Forty-three states require parental consent to vaccinate a child. The age at which parental consent is no longer required depends on the state and ranges between 15 and 18. But these laws are for teens who want to get vaccinated, not adults who want to sneak their friends’ babies into the clinic.
If you believe that your friends are abusing their children, you naturally have a responsibility to report it. But despite the fact that I agree with you about the need for vaccination, and that your friends are acting dangerously, you have dug so deep down the rabbit hole of complacency that you have come to the wrong side.
I was tempted to suggest you try to persuade them to get vaccinated, but if an active pandemic that has killed millions of people – plus all the social limitations of being unvaccinated – hasn’t convinced them yet, I don’t know. what else would. Maybe an ultimatum, saying you don’t feel safe with them anymore. You would risk ending that relationship, sure. But I’d rather lose friends than commit a crime and lose my freedom.