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Clay Stewart

Debate Team

November/ December 2009 LD Debate Case (Con)

Resolved: Public health concerns justify compulsory immunization.

V: Justice

V/C: Restricting the Influence of the State

The affirmative puts hundreds of thousands of lives at risk. Expanding the


powers of the government is almost never a good idea, but my opponent wants the
government to be able to force you to have vaccinations, solely because the government
believes it’s necessary. Time and time again we see government intervention into the
private sector, and the horrendous situation that results. Why would we want to put the
government in charge of a medically vital service? This is completely unnecessary, will
force unneeded treatment on individuals, and completely hamstring vaccination efforts.
My value for the round is Justice, defined as giving each his due. This is the best
value for the round because it represents an ideal situation towards which to strive. My
value-criterion for the round is Restricting the Influence of the State. The private sector
should be free to live their lives without unnecessary, dangerous mandates by the
government.
I offer the following definitions for clarification of the resolution. Public Health-
health services to improve and protect community health. As a result, a Public Health
Concern, is a matter that engages a person's attention, interest, or care, or that affects a
person's welfare within the context of community or societal health. Justify- to defend or
uphold as warranted or well-grounded. Compulsory Immunization- required; mandatory;
or obligatory vaccination.

Contention One: Compulsory Immunization is Unnecessary

In order to achieve a healthy society, it is not necessary that every person be


vaccinated. The concept of herd immunity is that if the majority of a population is
vaccinated, then the ability of a disease or virus to spread will be either heavily restricted
or nonexistent. Compulsory immunization is not necessary to achieve this for two
reasons.
One, the majority of people will choose to be vaccinated. In the United States,
for example, less than 1% of children do not receive vaccinations1, placing the country
high above herd immunity requirements for even the deadliest diseases.
Two, those who choose not to be vaccinated still receive significant protection.
In a study published in The New England Journal of Medicine on the effectiveness of the
vaccine for the deadly typhoid, which kills 600,000 people a year, even those who were
not vaccinated received significant protection. Blackburn M.D2., explains, “Although
1
http://children.webmd.com/vaccines/news/20080904/childhood-vaccination-rates-high
2
Sur D, et al. A Cluster-randomized effectiveness trial of Vi typhoid vaccine in India.
N Engl J Med. 2009; 361:335-344.
the absolute level of protection for the entire population [within the
study] was only about 60%, even unvaccinated persons enjoyed
significant protection if they were in a Vi vaccine cluster, most likely
because their vaccinated neighbors were less likely to contract typhoid
and subsequently transmit it to them.” The vaccination rate in this
study was almost 39% lower than the rate in the United States, but
those not vaccinated still received a high level of protection from one
of the deadliest diseases on the planet.

Contention Two: The Government Will Give Unnecessary Treatment

H1N1, also known as swine flu, is no more deadly than the normal flu, and has
mild symptoms for the majority of patients. Despite this, the World Health Organization
declared it a pandemic, with major heads of state following suit. If the government is
given the power to force its citizens to receive vaccines, then, in a situation like the
current so-called pandemic, when fear runs rampant in an ignorant public, treatment will
be given unnecessarily. In fact, it’s already occurred. The State of New York recently
required that all hospital, home health and hospice workers get seasonal and swine flu
vaccinations. 3

Contention Three: Government Liability Hurts Vaccination Efforts

Today, a culture exists of excessive liability. A primary example of this is the


health-care industry, where excessive litigation has had a tangible, negative effect.
Similarly, if the government orders immunization, it becomes liable for the effects.
Wanting to reduce liability, the State will effectively hamstring vaccination efforts in the
following areas.

Subpoint 1: Implementation

Imagine a situation in which a vaccine needs to be developed quickly, during an


outbreak of a deadly, new virus, or simply to respond to this year’s strain of flu. Also
imagine that, at every point during the development of the vaccine, liability concerns
caused the government to demand excessive oversight and testing, causing desperately
needed vaccines to be delayed for months, even years. This is the affirmative world,
where the development of vaccines will be delayed, gambling with lives.
This situation has already occurred in the health-care industry. According to The
Journal of the American Medical Association, in 1994, 80% of physicians ordered more
tests than were medically necessary out of fear of being sued.4 Excessive testing and
oversight has occurred in the health-care industry, and will occur in the pharmaceutical
industry with devastating consequences if you affirm.

3
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/21/nyregion/21vaccine.html
4
http://org.elon.edu/ipe/Henessey_Edited.pdf (Hennesy, Katherine. The Effects of Malpractice Tort
Reform on Defensive Medicine. Issues in Political Economy, Vol. 13, August 2004
Subpoint 2: Quality

This culture of excessive liability has had a negative effect on the health-care
industry, leading doctors to choose less-risky treatment, which is often either more
expensive or less effective. For example, according to a study published in The Journal
of the American Medical Association, a patient at a hospital with a high rate of obstetric
malpractice claims was 32% more likely to undergo a C-Section5, an operation with
lower risk than, but double the cost of, normal birth.
The same will occur in the pharmaceutical industry, forcing companies to choose
lower-risk procedures at the price of either effectiveness or cost. State influence yet
again hamstrings the private sector, lowering the quality of vaccines.

Subpoint 3: Cost

In addition to using more expensive alternative methods, government liability also


causes both excessive testing and oversight to occur. These three things cause the cost of
developing and implementing a vaccine to skyrocket. This actively discourages
companies from developing new vaccines because the cost of doing so is so high, and the
benefit is fairly small compared to what could be earned on the retail side of the industry.
In addition, this raises the cost of becoming immunized, limiting the ability of the
poor to become vaccinated, which will lower immunization rates worldwide, allowing
diseases to spread without restraint.

In the affirmative world, the government will give you treatment you don’t need,
while the treatment you do need becomes less effective, delayed, and more expensive, all
of which is completely and utterly unnecessary to ensure a health society.

5
http://org.elon.edu/ipe/Henessey_Edited.pdf (Hennesy, Katherine. The Effects of Malpractice Tort
Reform on Defensive Medicine. Issues in Political Economy, Vol. 13, August 2004