The unvaccinated create a health danger to students and staff alike.
By Don Harward, Contributing
To be vaccinated, or not to be—vaccinated: that is the question. That has been trending in the late-night under-conscious celluloid psyche of average America, thanks to anti-vaccination activists, like Jenny McCarthy, who have been hitting the talk-show circuits of late. Just for you: A two-minute overview of the horrors that have been banished into the realm of myth by immunization programs and a booster-shot of historical perspective that will increase your resistance to the misinformation campaign that I’ve dubbed–McCarthyism 2.0.
The recent measles outbreak at the Disneyland theme-park in Anaheim, has stirred-up the anti-immunization crusaders into getting back to working the talk-show circuit. According to CNN, at the end of January, the Disney outbreak had infected over 100 people in 14 states. Eager to spin the suffering of others into fuel to advance their agenda, a letter written by Jim Carey, of Dumb and Dumber fame, was published by the Huffington Post which tried to resurrect the debunked autism-vaccine connection. Back in the real world, in addition to having the luck of being in the wrong place at the right time, most of the victims have another thing in common—they’d never been properly vaccinated against measles.
Between 2004 and 2014, the walking unvaccinated have caused at least 33 similar outbreaks of preventable infectious diseases, according to records maintained by the Center for Disease Control in Washington, DC. Get this; in those outbreaks, nearly all who were ultimately infected were either unvaccinated or under-vaccinated. In other words, those that were not vaccinated got sick and those who had gotten all of their shots–did not. Vaccines work. Yet, the anti vaccination coalition zealously continues the campaign to discredit immunizations which began over a century ago.
Organized opposition of vaccination can be traced to around the turn of the 19th century when a national confederation of state and local anti-vaccination societies called the American Anti-Vaccination League was founded by John Pitcairn and Charles Higgins, according to Karen Walloch in her book, “(The) Hot Bed of the Anti-vaccine Heresy.”As is the case today, their most common argument against vaccination was rooted in a twisted notion that: the good of the individual–outweighs the good of the many. In other words, they don’t want to be forced to get vaccinated—because they have a right to get sick, even if it kills them–and us, too!
Most of the anti-vaxxers seem to be blissfully unaware of the high probability that if their predecessors had been more successful in eradicating immunizations, they themselves probably wouldn’t be here today. In the pre-vaccination era, nearly everyone had numerous personal experiences with “childhood disease.” Illnesses such as smallpox, polio, and the measles were commonplace and they regularly resulted in death, disability or disfigurement.
According to the World Health Organization, as recently as in the year 1967, small pox infected between 10 to 15 million people world-wide; causing approximately 2,000,000 deaths. Of those who survived, many were left blind and almost all experienced significant scarring. Almost exclusively because of vaccines, the number of small pox victims in 2013 was ZERO.
Perhaps, the naysayers have also been provoked by the promotions for the annual “flu shot” that retailers such as CVS, Target and Walmart have been extensively advertising in recent years. The vast majority of Americans consider the flu to be a mere annoyance, for which vaccination seems to be unnecessary and even frivolous. They couldn’t be more wrong.
In 2009, the reemergence of a strain of influenza, H1N1, prompted a large-scale vaccination effort in Asia. The pandemic, which was severely downplayed in the West, killed almost 400,000 people, according to the European Center for Disease Control. Astonishingly, that campaign against H1N1 is almost universally considered by informed professionals to have been wildly successful.
The number of deaths in 2009 pales in comparison to the morality rate experienced the last time H1N1 made its rounds. The History Channel reports that between the years of 1918 and 1920 the Spanish Flu (H1N1) was directly responsible for between 20-50 million deaths worldwide. Furthermore, because of the rapidity in which H1N1 progresses from infection to fatality (12 to 24 hours on average) all traditional treatments were nearly useless to those who already infected. An estimated 5 percent of the world population was killed by the Spanish Flu the History Channel’s web site reports. On the other hand, the recent availability of preemptive immunizations (together with strict quarantines) prevented the highly contagious disease from spreading beyond China and India in 2009, saving untold millions from a particularly gruesome demise.
The anti-mandatory vaccination proponents desperately need to refocus their energies, because I’d like to point out that there are currently NO vaccination programs in the United States that are mandatory. “ …(A)ll school immunization laws grant exemptions to children for medical reasons,” states the National Conference of State Legislatures. “Almost all states grant religious exemptions for people who have religious beliefs against immunizations.” In light of the Disneyland incident and others like it, perhaps it is time for those wanting to make a positive impact on the world to advocate for the elimination of non-medical exemptions to childhood vaccinations.
Thanks to immunizations, the last 50 years has been the most disease-free period we have ever known. The number of lives saved by mandated immunization programs should ensure that such programs will continue to exist, and for that, we should all be very grateful. Maybe we all should listen a little less to McCarthy/Carey and read a little more Shakespeare.
“The fool doth think he is wise, but the wise man knows himself to be a fool”. – (“As You Like It” Act V, Scene I).