Kelly Callahan of Appleton makes the argument that parents can refuse to have their children vaccinated (“Letter to the editor: Parents have a right to refuse vaccines,” Jan. 7).

As she says, “One’s individual freedom to make decisions for his or her children – be it schooling, religion or medical intervention – is a fundamental right.”

As often happens, this assertion of a right fails to acknowledge that rights are bound up with responsibilities. I may have a right to drive on the highway, but only if I do so in a responsible manner. Ms. Callahan only mentions that parents have the responsibility to educate themselves, but that leaves too much open to interpretation.

For example, consider the case of Dale and Leilani Neumann, whose daughter died from untreated diabetes. The court decided they did not have the right to simply pray for the child.

In the case of vaccination, refusal to do so has implications not just for the child, but for other people as well. A child with chickenpox can infect other people by means of a cough or sneeze, and the disease can lead to skin infection, scars, pneumonia, and death. Ms. Callahan may believe she has the right to take an unvaccinated child to school or on an airplane, but any reasonable public policy should deny her that right.

After all, the rest of us have rights as well.

William Vaughan Jr.

Chebeague Island