Wait, we had vaccines when Ben Franklin was around?
That was a long time ago.
What Did Benjamin Franklin Say About Vaccines?
Well, we had variolation…
“Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.”Benjamin Franklin
The Benjamin Franklin quote many anti-vaccine folks are using these days (do anti-vaccine folks get daily talking points to use?) doesn’t really have anything to do with vaccines though, at least not in the way that they think it does.
“The Franklin quote he nodded to on Tuesday, ironically, means the opposite of what Paul was arguing. When Franklin said, “Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety,” he was opposing the Penn family’s attempt to carve out an exception for themselves from the Pennsylvania General Assembly’s attempt to tax their lands for the collective good of frontier defense. The liberty Franklin was defending was the liberty the rest of us deserve now, too — liberty to choose to protect ourselves.”Saad B Omer on Rand Paul is wrong: Vaccines are no threat to liberty
It should be clear that Ben Franklin’s quote shouldn’t be used to attack vaccine mandates. If anything, it can be used to attack free-riders and those who skip or delay vaccines and try to hide in the herd!
“It is a quotation that defends the authority of a legislature to govern in the interests of collective security. It means, in context, not quite the opposite of what it’s almost always quoted as saying but much closer to the opposite than to the thing that people think it means.”Benjamin Wittes onBen Franklin’s Famous ‘Liberty, Safety’ Quote Lost Its Context In 21st Century
Interestingly, Benjamin Franklin did famously talk about vaccines, or at least smallpox variolation.
“In 1736 I lost one of my sons, a fine boy of four years old, by the small-pox, taken in the common way. I long regretted bitterly, and still regret that I had not given it to him by inoculation. This I mention for the sake of parents who omit that operation, on the supposition that they should never forgive themselves if a child died under it; my example showing that the regret may be the same either way, and that, therefore, the safer should be chosen.”Benjamin Franklin
He got a little temporary safety, avoiding the side effects of variolation, but what were the consequences? What did he lose?
What do you lose when you make decisions about vaccines based on vaccine misinformation?
What do folks like Rand Paul have to gain by speaking out against vaccines?
More on Benjamin Franklin and Vaccines
- VAXOPEDIA – Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
- VAXOPEDIA – Parents Who Regret Not Vaccinating Their Kids
- VAXOPEDIA – Do Anti-Vaccine Parents Ever Change Their Minds?
- VAXOPEDIA – The Benefits and Risks of Delaying Vaccines
- VAXOPEDIA – Why Did Anti-Vaccine Folks Applaud Rand Paul’s Testimony at the Senate Health Committee Hearing on Vaccines and Outbreaks?
- Project Gutenberg’s Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin, by Benjamin Franklin
- Rand Paul is wrong: Vaccines are no threat to liberty
- Ben Franklin’s Famous ‘Liberty, Safety’ Quote Lost Its Context In 21st Century
- What Ben Franklin Really Said
- Rand Paul: Sure, Vaccines Are OK, But We Shouldn’t Trade ‘Liberty’ for ‘False Sense of Security’
- Senator Bill Cassidy Challenges Senator Rand Paul on Flu Vaccine Immunization
- Sen. Rand Paul says government should not force people to receive vaccinations
- Rand Paul’s weak case against mandatory vaccines undercuts efforts to counter measles outbreak
- ‘Something is in those vaccines’: Lawmaker says mandatory measles shots are ‘Communist’
- Vaccine informed consent – mandates and liability
- School vaccine mandates are against the Nuremberg Code?