Skip to comments.As Diseases Make Comeback, Why Aren't All Kids Vaccinated?
Posted on 07/31/2008 7:22:31 AM PDT by yankeedame
The measles, whooping cough and even polio have returned. Why? Because of a new breed of vaccine deniers who are ignoring campaigns for awareness, and ultimately might live shorternot longerlives.
By Glenn Harlan Reynolds
Illustration by Koren Shadmi
Published in the August 2008 issue.
Progress is easy to take for granted. When I was a child in the 60s, polio was history, measles was on the way out, and diphtheria and whooping cough were maladies out of old movies. Now these contagious diseases are making a comeback.
Take measles, for instance. The disease used to infect 3 to 4 million Americans per year, hospitalizing nearly 50,000 people and causing 400 to 500 deaths. In 2000 a panel of experts convened by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention proclaimed that measles transmission had been eradicated in the United States, except for imported cases.
But that caveat is important.
An unvaccinated 7-year-old from San Diego became infected with measles while traveling with his family in Switzerland and ended up transmitting the disease back home to two siblings, five schoolmates and four other children at his doctors officeall of them unvaccinated.
Whooping cough has also seen a resurgence: A school in the East Bay area near San Francisco was closed recently when some 16 students fell ill.
The reason for these incidentsand for recent outbreaks of poliois that the percentage of parents vaccinating their children has fallen, perhaps because some parents see no point in warding off diseases theyve never encountered.
Religious or new-age beliefs may also factor into the decision: The San Diego outbreak spread in a school where nearly 10 percent of the students had been given personal-belief exemptions from the vaccination requirement. The East Bay outbreak started at a school that emphasizes nature-based therapy over mainstream medicine; fewer than half of the students were vaccinated.
Why would parents refuse to vaccinate their children against dangerous diseases? Many are skeptical of modern science and medicine in general. (And it is true that most vaccines carry exceedingly tinybut realrisks of serious illness or even death.) But I think most are responding to the widespread belief that vaccines are linked to autism.
Recent studies have soundly disspelled that notion.
And a simple glance at health statistics shows that autism cases continued to rise even after thimerosal, the mercury-based preservative widely blamed for the supposed autism link, was largely phased out of U.S. vaccines by 2001.
Nevertheless, these unsubstantiated fears have led some people to say that getting vaccinated should be a matter of individual choice: If you want to be protected, just get yourself and your children vaccinated.
Only its not that easy.
While the measles vaccine protects virtually everyone who is inoculated, not all vaccines have the same rate of success. But even if a vaccine is effective for only 70, 80 or 90 percent of those who take it, the other 30, 20 or 10 percent who dont get the full benefit of the vaccine are usually still not at risk.
Thats because most of the people around the partially protected are immune, so the disease cant sustain transmission long enough to spread.
But when people decide to forgo vaccination, they threaten the entire system. They increase their own risk and the risk of those in the community, including babies too young to be vaccinated and people with immune systems impaired by disease or chemotherapy.
They are also free-riding on the willingness of others to get vaccinated, which makes a decision to avoid vaccines out of fear or personal belief a lot safer.
Of course it is the very success of modern vaccines that makes this complacency possible. In previous generations, when epidemic disease swept through schools and neighborhoods, it was easy to persuade parents that the small risks associated with vaccination were worth it.
When those epidemics stoppedbecause of widespread vaccinationsit became easy to forget that we still live in a dangerous world. It happens all the time:
University of Tennessee law professor Gregory Stein examined the relation between building codes and accidents since the infamous 1911 Triangle Shirtwaist factory fire in New York and discovered a pattern: accident followed by a period of tightened regulations, followed by a gradual slackening of oversight until the next accident. It often takes a dramatic event to focus our minds.
The problem is that modern society requires constant, not episodic, attention to keep it running. In his book "The Escape from Hunger and Premature Death 17002100" Nobel Prizewinning historian Robert Fogel notes the incredible improvement in the lives of ordinary people since 1700 as a result of modern sanitation, agriculture and public health.
It takes steady work to keep water clean, prevent the spread of contagious disease and ensure an adequate food supply. As long as things go well, theres a tendency to take these conditions for granted and treat them as a given.
But theyre not: As Fogel notes, they represent a dramatic departure from the normal state of human existence over history, in which people typically lived nasty, sickly and short lives.
This departure didnt happen on its own, and things dont stay better on their own. Keeping a society functioning requires a lot of behind-the-scenes work by people who dont usually get a lot of attentionsanitation engineers, utility linemen, public health nurses, farmers, agricultural chemists and so on. Because the efforts of these workers are often undramatic, they are underappreciated and frequently underfunded.
Politicians like to cut ribbons on new bridges or schools, but theres no fanfare for the everyday maintenance that keeps the bridges standing and the schools working. As a result, critical parts of society are quietly decaying, victims of complacency or of active neglect....Its not just vaccinations or bridges, either....
What do we do about this? To some degree, we have to do what the reformers of the 19th and early 20th centuries did: Hector people about the importance of paying attention to our societys upkeep.
Alas, our main allies in persuasion will probably be the epidemics and other disasters that take place when too few pay attention. Sometimes, people have to trip and fall to be reminded that its important to watch their step.
Stand by for a load of mindless anti vaccine drivel and pseudo science that is headed your way.
There are so many conspiracy theorists who think such treatments cause other problems and scream anytime anyone mentions such things. I don’t know if you can elect to have your children immunized but I’d do it.
I’ll start: Fear of autism.
A site to consider
The problem is not Mexicans. The problem is liberal trust-funders who consider immunization declasse. The last two measles outbreaks were caused by globe-trotting upper-middle-class couples who took their unimmunized children places where there were active measles. And these were places like Switzerland — not Swaziland.
As much merit as Glenn Reynolds point has, the pharmaceutical companies also have to be held liable for their lobbying of politicians to stack vaccine requirements onto children that aren’t needed.
Yup. That's longterm. I guess some parents feel it better for their kids to die of diphtheria or polio. At least that way the problem is over fast.
When I had to take my children back to the doctor to get vaccinated for three more viruses, I asked why they added them. The doctor said too many immigrants from Mexico were bringing in old diseases that needed to be stopped. I said spefically Mexico and he said yes, that is what the memo from the CDC said.
Maybe we could get the ‘evil rich’ to pay the Federal excise taxes on poor peoples’ vaccinations?
A friend of mine whose kids aren’t immunized says that their doc advised them to get the shots if they go to third world countries. I posed the question: What about Disneyland/World?
You are talking about vaccines that were already in place, this is talking about new ones added due to newly increased numbers of things like Hepatitus (sp), TB, and one other I can’t think of.
Oh yeah, and that Chicken Pox vaccine. I scoffed at that one, but my daughter had the vaccine and still had an outbreak that almost put her in the hospital. They told me if she hadn’t have had the vaccine, she would might have died. She was the type case the vaccine was made for. As bad as it was, the pox only lasted four days instead of the usual 7 to 10. So in that case it helped.
I have in-laws who didn’t vaccinate their kids, figuring they didn’t need to vaccinate since they home school. They ended up with a houseful of Whooping Cough (pertussis).
The component of the measles vaccine that was blamed for autism has been removed from the vaccine. Next?
“Chicken Pox vaccine. I scoffed at that one, but my daughter had the vaccine and still had an outbreak that almost put her in the hospital. They told me if she hadnt have had the vaccine, she would might have died...”
If you believe that line, your naive.
because we have allowed ourselves to turn into a third-world country with an influx of mexicans and those from south of the border...we are having a big problem here in DFW because of foul water in swimming pools...it is getting worse...proportional to the influx of mexicans
You might think I am niave, but I know how bad she had it.
So you are saying people don’t die from Chicken Pox? I really would have hated to see how bad it would have been without the vaccine.
The autism scare is junk science worthy of the Al Gore global warming baloney.
Brought to you by people who make money selling books and suing companies.
I will not get into a substantive debate on the Internet; it is futile.
I will say I am a MENSA member, MIT and Texas A&M graduate, and successful businessman, extreme conservative, and after much study and review came to the conclusion that anyone who does not vaccinate their children is an idiot.
It’s not the Mexicans.
We have a number of investigations in our state (NJ) about some doctors being on a separate pay arrangement with the pharmaceutical companies to promote many programs and refer too.
So, I’m not sure if it is doctors, per say, wanting all of those shots.
Like a said, the author of this article does have valid points. But, I would like to see equal pressure put on the pharmaceuticals as well.
In fact my son came down with mono- lasted less than a WEEK! That week was over Spring Break. He is in his 2nd year of college, and has never missed a day of school due to being sick.
I like being an idiot with happy and healthy kids.
My drug of choice comes in a silver can!
My boss isn’t having his new daughter vaccinated. He says it causes brain damage .... I really hope they don’t have to pick out a baby coffin and funeral clothes rather than new toys and bottles.
People do die of Chicken Pox. Persons who are immunosuppressed or sick in some other way. A normal healthy child, with no other complications won’t die of the disease if, when acquired, is appropriately care for.
However, my point is, if anything, the vaccine may have contributed to the virulence of the strain your daughter had. I’d be curious as to how soon after the vaccination your daughter became symptomatic.
Thanks for you post. At the age of ten(1946)I had 2 buddies age 6 & 8 who had Polio. One was in an iron lung for a year or so. The other was in a full plaster body cast for almost a year and had a bad leg the rest of his life. Their recoveries were slow and painful.
Since the Polio vaccines were effective, millions of people have completely forgotten about that terrible disease.
My two sons and two grandsons have always taken the reccomended vaccines and have never had any adverse reactions. Because there are some small percentage of sad stories (re; Don Imus)the modern liberal ideas are don’t take the shots and all will be well. That is a new form of Russian roulette.
“I will say I am a MENSA member, MIT and Texas A&M graduate, and successful businessman, extreme conservative, and after much study and review came to the conclusion that anyone who does not vaccinate their children is an idiot.”
Let’s all bow to the “Mensa member”
Thank you your highness for steering us idiots back on track.
Good luck. God loves fools, sometimes.
Hope your son doesn’t get measels while his wife is pregnant with your grandchildren . . . . or mumps before, so you have no grandchildren.
Your choice. Just wish you weren’t dangerous to the rest of us. Maybe you could go segregate yourselves somewhere to get away from the rest of us evil vaccinators. After you all die of some disease, I’ll buy the land cheap.
Yes, you should listen to your betters.
It was two and half years later. She was vaccinated at 6 and developed it at 8.
Although I do question if there aren’t other strains of the Chicken Pox that the vacccine doesn’t cover fully.
Their biggest concern was her eyesight as she got the pox blisters under her eyelids. That was the scariest part for me as a mom and the most horrific thing to see on a child.
are you always so overly dramatic?
But the pharmecutical Gods truly love you!!!!
I have a son who had the chicken pox vaccine as a toddler (about 2 yrs old). He got chicken pox at age 6 or 7. I had the vaccine as a child also. His chicken pox virus gave me shingles. Sometimes vaccines just don’t work.
I think people who don’t vaccinate their kids against dangerous diseases are stupid - I got pretty much all the vaccines, nothing bad ever happened as a result except some mild symptoms after my flu and pnuemonia shots. Granted, I didn’t get a chicken pox vaccine, either because it didn’t exist when I was that young or I got it before I would have been vaccinated (I was well under a year old), and I’m holding off on the HPV vaccine until it’s been around for longer, but otherwise I got everything and I’m perfectly healthy.
The thing I’m confused about is the college vaccines. My brother and I both got Hepatitis B shots, but only my school required a TB test, and only his school required a meningitis vaccine... I really didn’t get it.
It’s not the measles either.
This isn’t about Measles, it’s about virulent TB and Hepatitus.
That’s the other one I couldn’t remember.
Both my daughters got so sick from that shot! My oldest couldn’t move her arm for almost a week and had high fevers and vomiting. Same for the other one, but not as severe.
Don’t they implant the chips during the vaccination process?
//tin foil hat off
Then you are a very lucky person to have not had your children come into contact with diseased people.
I don’t think she is being being overly dramatic. It is true that mumps can make you sterile. And if your son gets the measles, it can be passed to the unborn child, even if the mother has been immunized herself.
I have an aunt (in-law) who got measles encephalitis before immunizations were available. she has been institutionalized for over 50 years. The immunizations are at least a hundred times less likely to cause this than the disease.
ILLEAGLE ALIENS !
Phama companies don’t make squat on routine vaccines.
The patents ran out long ago.
Anti-vaccine whackos, however, get sick and make a lot of money for the phama industry.
where do you think he got the mono from?
folks, I will not bash anyone who does vaccinate their children, ever.
But I did my research on this issue, and I am very happy with my own decision- my children are very pleased also.
If you all are pleased with your decision, then God Bless you. I offer no words or thoughts of ill will whatsoever, and no assumptions on your IQ.
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