To Vaccinate Or Not? Safety Net or No Safety Net?

To Vaccinate Or Not? Safety Net or No Safety Net? September 25, 2014

Ok, setting aside theology and Church related topics to dive into…vaccines!

The Wall Street Journal has an article detailing the increase in some diseases, the rates of which infection had decreased substantially because of vaccinations. Over the past decades, there has been an increasing movement to delay or refuse vaccinations for children.

To me, it never made much sense. The only way your unvaccinated child can be relatively safe from these diseases is if…everyone else vaccinates their children. Wow. Talk about using people.

And forget any travel outside of the US or contact with those who travel. Heck, don’t go near an airport.

Enjoy a very limited sphere where you/your child will be safe.

Set aside the debate about vaccinations made from the genetic material of aborted fetuses. The cooperation of the parent vaccinating her child is so remote that it would be absurd to call the parent, doctor, or the child a cooperator in evil. And then, not all vaccines have anything to do with aborted fetuses. There were concerns about autism. The WSJ reports:

Then those stories [about the autism/vaccine link] disappeared. One reason was that study after study showed that these concerns were ill-founded. Another was that the famous 1998 report claiming to show a link between vaccinations and autism was retracted by The Lancet, the medical journal that had published it. The study was not only spectacularly wrong, as more than a dozen studies have shown, but also fraudulent. The author, British surgeon Andrew Wakefield, has since been stripped of his medical license.

But the damage was done. Countless parents became afraid of vaccines. As a consequence, many parents now choose to delay, withhold, separate or space out vaccines. Some don’t vaccinate their children at all. A 2006 study in the Journal of the American Medical Association showed that between 1991 and 2004, the percentage of children whose parents had chosen to opt out of vaccines increased by 6% a year, resulting in a more than twofold increase.

It gets better. Guess who doesn’t vaccinate their children? People of privilege and means:

Who is choosing not to vaccinate? The answer is surprising. The area with the most cases of whooping cough in California is Los Angeles County, and no group within that county has lower immunization rates than residents living between Malibu and Marina Del Ray, home to some of the wealthiest and most exclusive suburbs in the country. At the Kabbalah Children’s Academy in Beverly Hills, 57% of children are unvaccinated. At the Waldorf Early Childhood Center in Santa Monica, it’s 68%, according to the Hollywood Reporter’s analysis of public-health data.

These are the kind of immunization rates that can be found in Chad or South Sudan. But parents in Beverly Hills and Santa Monica see vaccines as unnatural—something that conflicts with their healthy lifestyle. And they have no problem finding fringe pediatricians willing to cater to their irrational beliefs.

So on the one hand we are trying to provide life saving vaccines to the poorest of the poor in the world, many of whom don’t have access to vaccines, and on the other hand we (as in the parents and medical community) are irresponsibly not vaccinating the very population that is privileged enough to live the kind of lifestyle and do the kind of traveling that could very well expose them to all those who are not vaccinated and carrying various types of serious diseases.

While I’m not a fan of vaccinating for every thing possible, I do think there are some basic vaccines which we should be utilizing and which should be made available to every population regardless of its socio economic status. Again, let me repeat that, I’m not in favor of every vaccine.

As the article suggests, even in the US, the safety net of those receiving basic vaccines is shrinking and the consequence is an increase in diseases long thought gone.

Take your pick.

 


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