Pakistan Arrests Hundreds of Parents for Not Vaccinating Their Children Against Polio March 3, 2015

Pakistan Arrests Hundreds of Parents for Not Vaccinating Their Children Against Polio

I want parents to vaccinate their children.

I’m all for blocking unvaccinated kids from attending public school.

But when it comes to pushing parents to vaccinate their children, this strikes me as going a *little* too far…:

Pakistani authorities have conducted their first-ever mass arrest of parents for refusing to allow their children to be vaccinated against polio.

Authorities in Peshawar, in the north-west of the country, detained 471 people and charged them with “endangering public security”.

The local government says they will only be freed once they have pledged in writing to vaccinate their children.

Because if you want to convince anti-vaxxers that vaccines aren’t part of some government conspiracy, it’s jailing them for their decision… Okay, I don’t know what the parents’ reasons are for not giving their children the shots they need — this may have something to do with it — but this draconian measure seems like it would do far more harm than good in the long run.

Why are government officials going this far?

Pakistan is one of only three countries in the world where polio is still endemic, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). The WHO warns that failure to fully eradicate polio in these remaining areas could result in as many as 200,000 new cases every year in the next 10 years, worldwide.

I’m not questioning the efficacy of arresting these parents — if Pakistan wants everyone vaccinated, this should do it — but rather the strategic thinking behind it. This approach will inevitably backfire. Sure, these parents will vaccinate now, but they’ll also learn to avoid Western medicine and distrust government policies in the future. Polio may be eradicated, but it’ll create a whole host of additional problems.

(Image via Shutterstock. Thanks to Shayne for the link)

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