Forcing Vaccination on Every Child Undermines Civil Liberties

Forcing Vaccination on Every Child Undermines Civil Liberties

The author's son Chris, at two years old in the summer of 1980, before his 4th DPT shot.

(Courtesy Fisher)


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Barbara Loe Fisher
Author and human rights activist Barbara Loe Fisher is co-founder and president of the non-profit National Vaccine Information Center established in 1982 to prevent vaccine injuries and deaths through public education. She is co-author of the 1985 book DPT: A Shot in the Dark, author of A Guide to Reforming Vaccine Policy and Law, founder and executive editor of the online journal newspaper, The Vaccine Reaction, and a video blog commentator on NVIC.org. She helped secure safety provisions in the 1986 National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act and has testified in Congress and state legislatures. She served on the National Vaccine Advisory Committee; Institute of Medicine Vaccine Safety Forum; the FDA Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee and Vaccine Policy Analysis Collaborative. She has discussed vaccine science, policy and law on CBS, ABC, NBC, Fox, NPR and in USA Today, Washington Post, New York Times and many public forums.
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Why we should put insects on the menu

Insects for sale at a market in Cambodia.

David Waltner-Toews

I walked through the Dong Makkhai forest-products market, just outside of Vientiane, the laid-back capital of the Lao Peoples Democratic Republic or Lao PDR. Piled on rough display tables were varieties of six-legged wildlife–grasshoppers, small white crickets, house crickets, mole crickets, wasps, wasp eggs and larvae, dragonflies, and dung beetles. Some were roasted or fried, but in a few cases, still alive and scrabbling at the bottom of deep plastic bowls. I crunched on some fried crickets and larvae.

One stall offered Giant Asian hornets, both babies and adults. I suppressed my inner squirm and, in the interests of world food security and equity, accepted an offer of the soft, velvety larva; they were smooth on the tongue and of a pleasantly cool, buttery-custard consistency. Because the seller had already given me a free sample, I felt obliged to buy a chunk of the nest with larvae and some dead adults, which the seller mixed with kaffir lime leaves.

The year was 2016 and I was in Lao PDR because Veterinarians without Borders/Vétérinaires sans Frontières-Canada had initiated a project on small-scale cricket farming. The intent was to organize and encourage rural women to grow crickets as a source of supplementary protein and sell them at the market for cash. As a veterinary epidemiologist, I had been trained to exterminate disease spreading insects—Lyme disease-carrying ticks, kissing bugs that carry American Sleeping Sickness and mosquitoes carrying malaria, West Nile and Zika. Now, as part of a global wave promoting insects as a sustainable food source, I was being asked to view arthropods as micro-livestock, and devise management methods to keep them alive and healthy. It was a bit of a mind-bender.

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David Waltner-Toews
David Waltner-Toews is a veterinary epidemiologist and author of more than twenty books of poetry, fiction, and science. His most recent books are On Pandemics: deadly diseases from bubonic plague to coronavirus (Greystone Books, 2020); Eat the Beetles: an exploration into our conflicted relationship with insects (ECW Press, 2017) and The Origin of Feces: what excrement tells us about evolution, ecology and a sustainable society (ECW Press, 2013).
One Health/One Planet: A Special Magazine Issue on Climate Change, Diseases, and Research that Could Save Us

This single-issue magazine explores research taking single-aim at the overlapping dilemmas of a warming planet and more frequent global pandemics.

Original artwork by Celia Jacobs

In the spirit of rising to difficult challenges and erasing pointless divisions, we present One Health/One Planet, a single-issue magazine that explores how climate change and other environmental shifts are increasing vulnerabilities to infectious diseases by land and by sea. The magazine probes how scientists are making progress with leaders in other fields toward solutions that embrace diverse perspectives and the interconnectedness of all lifeforms and our precious blue dot.

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Matt Fuchs

Matt Fuchs is the editor-in-chief of Leaps.org. He is also a contributing reporter to the Washington Post and has written for the New York Times, Time Magazine, WIRED and the Washington Post Magazine, among other outlets. Follow him on Twitter @fuchswriter.