Re: poly: Immunization (was: libertarianism)

From: Robin Hanson <>
Date: Wed Feb 18 1998 - 14:31:43 PST

Perry writes:
>1) I can fully protect my entire family by immunizing them, after
> which I no longer need care about what other people do.

And you can live in a steel house, so you no longer care if your
neighbor's house is a fire hazard. You can wear bullet proof vests,
and care less about stray gunfire.

Damien S.'s points about eliminating vs. incubating diseases are
also worth noting.

>As I noted, vaccination has been around a long time, and we do know
>what statistics were like pre-intervention, and I believe they were
>already very high. The primary cited reason for implementing the
>programs was to protect "the poor" from disease, btw, and not to
>protect the mass of the public.

The poor is exactly where the externality effect should cause the most
problem; when vaccines are relatively cheap the personal incentives
to vaccinate are enough for the better off.

>> smaller the infected population, the less frequently new flus will arise.
>Actually, this is untrue for influenza. New strains typically arise in
>domestic animals, not in humans, and it would be nearly impossible to
>immunize all the world's wildlife, etc.

When I read that most flus come from asian pig & chicken farmers, it occured
to me that it's probably worth much more to the rest of the world than it
would cost those farmers to limit their livestock contact enough to
reduce the rates of flu evolution. Seems a clear contractual failure.

Robin Hanson
RWJF Health Policy Scholar, Sch. of Public Health 510-643-1884
140 Warren Hall, UC Berkeley, CA 94720-7360 FAX: 510-643-8614
Received on Wed Feb 18 22:44:31 1998

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