Capitalism Would Immunize Against Anti-Vaxxers

Thursday, October 10, 2019

Human Resources expert Suzanne Lucas explains why businessmen should encourage their employees to keep vaccinations up-to-date for themselves and their families. For example:

[W]hen an unvaccinated boy in Oregon contracted tetanus, he spent 57 days in the hospital -- and ended up with an $800,000 bill. If that were your employee on your health care plan, you wouldn't doubt why your rates were going up. [link removed]
That's an extreme example, but Lucas correctly notes that vaccination rates are down. The situation, invited by the anti-vaccination movement and its long-discredited "science", causes many other costs that can quickly add up, in the forms of lost productivity and easily-avoidable draws on benefits.

Common sense suggests that the single most effective way an employer could obviate many of these problems would be to make up to date vaccination a condition of employment, and offer incentives to employees who can prove their families are vaccinated.

But Lucas's column shows that that idea is way out the window. Just look at how current regulations make it easy for anti-vaxxers to escape the financial consequences of endangering their own health, that of those around them, and that of the their own children:
Image by whitesession, via Pixabay, license.
And it's not just the medical costs -- you also have to consider the costs of spending time away from work. Parents, in this situation, would be eligible for leave via the Family and Medical Leave Act to take care of their sick child, and of course you would want them to feel empowered to take time to be at the hospital. But you'd also be understandably upset about having to deal with the fallout of a completely avoidable situation. [bold added]
And later:
[O]utside of a health care setting, you can't require your employees to be vaccinated. [bold added]
And it goes without saying that taking care to not employ anti-vaxxers would invite a lawsuit, although it should not.

So employers can't elect not to hire such Luddites in the first place. This exposes them to lost productivity costs and increases their health insurance costs (which ObamaCare wrongly makes impossible for many firms to opt out of) and then they are forced to give leave, sparing such people from the consequences of their own choices -- at the cost of the more prudent employees who didn't get sick because they did get vaccinated. (Family leave is a great benefit, but it is not a right, and the government has no business forcing employers to provide benefits of any kind.)

Fortunately, there are things employers can do, as Lucas's column indicates. But long-range, the best thing we all can do to counter the anti-vaccination movement is to advocate more freedom for business owners to choose their personnel and how to compensate them.

-- CAV


Dinwar said...

The statement about health care being the only field where vaccinations are required isn't entirely true. Under OSHA you can refuse to assign employees to specific jobs if vaccinations are required--they don't fit the criteria for the safety plan, so they're unfit for that duty. Those jobs include site safety officer (giving first aid necessarily exposes you to infectious material), working with certain materials (medical waste and landfill material, for example--which has come up in my life more than I expected), or in certain regions (primarily countries where exposure to disease can be expected, such as South America). While you can't fire the employee for not being vaccinated, you can use this to refuse to give them assignments until they can no longer find work within your company, which is considered a justifiable cause for termination, protecting the company from lawsuits.

I'm not saying that I approve of OSHA or of the practice of what I call "soft firing"; the first puts employees in more danger by outsourcing thinking, and the second is cowardly and dishonest, and causes no small amount of psychological trauma to the victim. I'm merely trying to paint a fuller picture of the regulatory environment employers are faced with.

Gus Van Horn said...


Thanks. That, in itself, is an almost perfect illustration of how ludicrous our regulatory environment is.

An employer shouldn't have to jump through hoops -- to prove to the satisfaction of some regulator -- to get rid of an unfit employee.