“In a recent article for Big Think, David Ropeik argues that the risk posed by unvaccinated people is sufficient to justify coercing them into vaccinating. Measles is a potentially deadly disease and outbreaks are occurring due to declining vaccination rates, he reasons. “What does society do when one person’s behavior puts the greater community at risk? […] We make them stop.” I suppose it depends on the behavior and the degree of risk, but where vaccination is concerned, I disagree that coercive measures are warranted. While measles is not a fun disease and it can kill people, the sacrifice of individual autonomy isn’t justified in this case.
THE RISK OF GETTING THE MEASLES IN THE US IS VERY LOW.
Between 2001 and 2010, the US saw 692 cases. 292 of these were imported by travelers who caught the disease in another country. Since you can’t blame your unvaccinated compatriots if you catch the measles in another country, we’ll exclude these. That leaves 400 cases in 10 years out of approximately 297 million people. The odds of getting the measles in the US in a typical year are thus 0.13 in a million. Given that about 10% of the population is unvaccinated, the odds of an unvaccinated person getting the disease are about 1.3 in a million.1 Note that the odds are higher for the unvaccinated, but 1.3 in a million is still extremely rare….”