It’s the failure to deal with those consequences that frustrates me about this debate. If you choose to not vaccinate your children, that is your choice. In the absence of an immediate threat, such as a life-threatening plague or outbreak, the state doesn’t have a compelling reason to administer that vaccination by force or to infringe on your rights. But that doesn’t mean there are no tradeoffs for such a decision. If you choose not to vaccinate, private and public institutions should be able to discriminate on that basis. Disneyland should be able to require proof of vaccination as a condition of entry, and so should public schools. You shouldn’t be compelled to vaccinate your child, but neither should the rest of us be compelled to pretend like you did…

So how should we rebalance this autonomy? One suggestion regarding a path forward on public policy regarding vaccination policy: We speak about these topics mostly in terms of state mandates and sticks, but perhaps that’s not the best way. The Australian experience on vaccines, where they tied access to family tax benefits to immunization, illustrates that carrots can be quite effective.

If the decline in MMR vaccination continues, perhaps the federal government could take the step of making access to the child tax credit contingent upon vaccination. If we’re going to have redistributive social engineering in the tax code, it may as well be for children who aren’t carrying disease around Disneyland.