Ask Damon: Should I vaccinate my friends’ baby without telling them?

Hi Damon, My best friend is anti-vaccine (not just covid, all vaccines). His wife is too. They have a 9-month-old baby and they haven’t vaccinated him. I babysit for them every other weekend. Should I take the baby to be vaccinated without telling him?

Anonymous: My feelings about vaccinations are well documented. But in case you’re not familiar, a quick update:

I think I have reached the threshold of intellect where I am smart enough to know that I am not that smart. I have some gifts and some talents, I suppose. But with medical science, I trust that the doctors and MDs who have put in thousands of hours and hundreds of thousands of dollars to learn about it, and whose livelihood is based on the retention and application of that knowledge, know much more about she who would ever know. And I don’t just mean a faceless wall of anonymous white-coated professionals, but family and good friends. A neighbour. An ex-girlfriend. All doctors or doctors related to science unanimously in their belief: no, petition – everyone get vaccinated.

And look, I’m a black American. My skepticism about our health care system, based on my knowledge of the profound racial disparities that exist within it, historically and today, is justified. But, as I wrote in a New York Times essay last year, my desire to prevent more infections, illnesses, and deaths is a greater force than cynicism.

That said, I am also a father of two young children. What if someone took them away, against my will, to vaccinate them? Let’s say my editors advised me, for legal reasons, not to say what I would do to that person.

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What you are suggesting is reckless, heinous and possibly even criminal. Forty-three states require parental permission to vaccinate a child. The age at which parental consent is no longer required depends on the state and ranges from 15 to 18 years old. But these laws are for teens who want to get vaccinated, not adults who want to sneak their friends’ babies to the clinic.

Of course, if you think your friends are abusing your children, you have a responsibility to report them. But even though I agree with you about the need for vaccination, and that your friends are acting dangerously, you have sunk so far down the rabbit hole of self-righteousness that you have landed on the wrong side.

I was tempted to suggest trying to persuade them to get vaccinated, but if an ongoing pandemic that has killed millions of people, plus all the social restrictions of not being vaccinated, hasn’t convinced them yet, I’m not sure what else will. would do. Perhaps an ultimatum, where you tell them that you no longer feel safe with them. You would risk ending that relationship, of course. But I’d rather lose friends than commit a crime and lose my freedom.

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