Ask Damon: Should I get my friends’ baby vaccinated without telling them about it?

Hi Damon: My best friend is an anti-vaccine (not just covid, all vaccines). His wife too. They have a 9-month-old baby and have not been vaccinated. I look after them every other weekend. Should I take my child to give him an injection without telling them?

Anonymous: My feelings about vaccinations are well documented. But just in case, a quick refresh:

I think I have reached the threshold of the intellect where I am smart enough to know that I am not that smart. I think I have some talent and talent. But when it comes to medical science, I trust that graduate students who have spent thousands of hours and hundreds of thousands of dollars to learn about it, and whose livelihoods depend on the preservation and application of this knowledge, know much more about it than I would ever know. . And I’m not just talking about some anonymous wall of anonymous professionals in white coats, but about family and good friends. Neighbor. Ex-girlfriend. All doctors or doctors of science are unanimous in their opinion – no, objection – that everyone gets vaccinated.

And look, I’m a black American. My skepticism about our health care system, based on the awareness of deep racial differences within it – historically and today – is justified. But, as I wrote in an essay for the New York Times last year, my desire to prevent more infections, disease, and death is a force greater than cynicism.

That said, I am also a parent of two young children. What if someone took them against my will to get vaccinated? Let’s say the editors advised me, for legal reasons, not to tell this person what I was going to do.

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What you suggest is reckless, blatant, and possibly even criminal. Forty-three states require parental consent to immunize their child. The age at which parental consent is no longer required varies by state, ranging from 15 to 18 years of age. But these laws apply to adolescents who want to get vaccinated, not adults who want to smuggle their friends’ children into the clinic.

Of course, if you believe your friends are abusing their children, you have a responsibility to report them. But despite the fact that I agree with you about the need to vaccinate and that your friends are dangerous, you have buried yourself so deep in the rabbit hole of self-righteous self-confidence that you found yourself on the wrong side.

I was tempted to suggest that you try to get them to get vaccinated, but if the active pandemic that has killed millions of people – plus all the social constraints of not vaccinating – hasn’t convinced them yet, I’m not sure what would have done otherwise. Maybe an ultimatum telling them that you don’t feel safe with them anymore. You probably risk ending this relationship. But I’d rather lose my friends than commit a crime and lose my freedom.

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