Tori's Blog

Whooping Cough is Now An Epidemic — Thanks to the Anti-Vaccine Movement

Thursday, September 16th, 2010

Most people who know me know that I don’t sleep. At least I don’t sleep much. And I am not saying that is a good thing; it’s just what is. Since the middle of the night guarantees that my house that is quiet, I do an awful lot of writing then.

I was poking around Face Book this evening (I am finally learning a bit more about how to move around on it) and I saw a post from my friend Allison. It was a link to a Penn & Teller spot and I will qualify (it as she did) by saying it is NOT for children so you may want to turn the volume down.

It is a brief spot about vaccines. The clarity and directness was absolutely refreshingly but did get my heart rate up. The fact that we are coming into flu season brings the topic up again loud and clear.

I don’t think I’ve kept much of a secret as to how I feel about the completely unfounded “pop- medicine” anti-vaccine movement that has gained popular attention in recent years. The claim primarily being that there is a link between autism and vaccinations. I have previously talked about the dangers of celebrities taking on causes, as well as anecdotal “evidence” showing such links. Science – real science, based on authentic, evidence-based studies have proven very clearly that these theories are wrong.

So, now in 2010, we can thank the anti-vaccine movement for bringing back the devastating disease of pertussis, or whooping cough. It is rising this year to epidemic proportions. Why? As a direct result of misinformed people choosing to not vaccinate their children. Is it their right? Sure. But it is also the right to call them on it and to make it very clear that their choice is completely irresponsible and has a direct effect on the world around them.

As we get older our immunity declines and every older child and adult should get a pertussis booster shot this year. If we get whooping cough, we don’t get terribly sick. The most vulnerable are babies under 3 months who have no immunity. And they don’t merely get sick, they die.

In the small rural town a few miles from where I live, a high percentage of residents do not vaccinate their children. Two years ago, there was an outbreak of chicken pox in that town. The feeling amongst the residents was that this was fine due to the belief that the children would have a higher level of immunity if they actually got, and infected one another with the virus.

It was fine until the school system required all the infected children to stay home for the 21-day course of the virus as a public health safety measure to protect others from being exposed. Suddenly the parents were angry – they had jobs, responsibilities. How could they possibly stay home with their children for that length of time? Personal responsibility. There are consequences for our choices.

I am a passionate believer in having one’s own opinion and there is everything right with differing opinions. But… they need to be based in fact. Meaning, because I think it to be true, does not, in fact make it true.

Science is really pretty straightforward. Studies teach us and the world of medicine is embracing evidence-based medicine.

The science on vaccinations has been very clear. Devastating diseases have been eradicated because of them. Diseases kill far more people than any rare reaction to a vaccine would.

Your Comments

  1. so sick of the “medical community” thinking that they are smarter than everyone and discounting what others are saying…..

  2. Actually you can thank the Medical Industry for the outbreak for not listening to parents who say that the vaccines have caused serious side effects for their kids.

    Don’t blame the anit-vaccine movement, we are just trying to protect our children the SAME way you are. Why doesn’t the medical industry just LISTEN to parents, the anti vaccine movement is NOT saying vaccines are bad. We just want them to look at the facts that show for some children them are not a good idea.

    But they do not want to compromise. This makes me sad….Make vaccines safer, the medical industry should NOT vaccinate kids when they are sick. They should do blood tests to see if their immune system is strong enough to handle the vaccine, and their are other things they could do that I don’t have room to go into.

    How cold of you to mock the link between Autism and vaccines when thousands of parents saw their son or daughter regress after getting a vaccine. I hope you someday know that feeling. It is a horrible one.

    Just because vaccines don’t lead to Autism for most children doesn’t mean they DONT LEAD to Autism for SOME children. Just like in the same way chemotherapy doesn’t recovery all cancer patients but it does some. You would still do it right? Regardless, this country is founded on the belief of individual rights and freedoms and to be free of government intrusion.

    • Thanks very much for putting in your comments. I appreciate and respect them very much. Your concerns about keeping vaccines safe are, without question, vitally important. In passing this information on, I am stressing that vaccines, simply put, keep millions of people from dying around the world. Of course, there is an element of risk with any choice we make. However, the benefit vs. risks of of vaccinating children and adults far and wide outweighs the risk. Not as a medical profession, but as a mother, I weigh what solid science and research have to offer me.

  3. Actually it is NOT because of the anti-vaccine movement as you call it. ACTUALLY the deaths that came about from this 8 of the babies were too young to even get the vaccine!!! The 1st dose is given 2 months of age and these infants were just that age or younger. Therefore stop blaming the anti-vaccine movement.

    • Thanks for replying. Pertussis is an extremely contagious infection that had been nearly completely eradicated until a few years ago. The fact that a higher proportion of children have not been vaccinated against it is, as well as adults with waning immunity or none at all due to lack of vaccination is the reason it is back with such force. It is the older children and adults who put the youngest babies at risk. You are absolutely correct in the fact that the babies that died all had little or no immunity, which tragically shows how essential the vaccine is in protecting those most vulnerable.

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