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Opinion: A Few Misinformed People Putting Many More at Risk

May 1, 2019 Featured No Comments
I recently asked my doctor to confirm my immunity, the last sentence in blue indicates I’m immune to the measles.

Less than two decades after eradicating a highly contagious, measles disease it is back:

In 2000, the Pan-American Health Organization announced a monumental public health achievement: Widespread vaccination efforts, overseen by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, had effectively eliminated measles from the United States.

The disease, which before the vaccination era affected 3 to 4 million people in the U.S. each year, was now isolated to small, contained outbreaks connected to international travel.

This year’s record-setting outbreak threatens that achievement. (NPR)

Why? An increasing number of misinformed among us are putting greater numbers at risk. The idea of herd immunity is a simple, but highly effective.

Just as a herd of cattle or sheep uses sheer numbers to protect its members from predators, herd immunity protects a community from infectious diseases by virtue of the sheer numbers of people immune to such diseases. The more members of a human “herd” who are immune to a given disease, the better protected the whole populace will be from an outbreak of that disease.

There are two ways an individual can become immune to an infectious disease: by becoming infected with the pathogen that causes it or by being vaccinated against it. Because vaccines induce immunity without causing illness, they are a comparatively safe and effective way to fill a community with disease-resistant people. These vaccinated individuals have protected themselves from disease. But, in turn, they are also protecting members of the community who cannot be vaccinated, preventing the chain of disease from reaching them and limiting potential outbreaks. Every vaccinated person adds to the effectiveness of this community-level protection. (PBS/NOVA)

Dr. Spock said it best: “The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.

The US epicenter right now is in the Orthodox Jewish community, a group targeted by an anti-vaccination group”

(Rebecca) Feldman and 14 other Orthodox Jewish nurses are going line by line through a 40-page handbook that New York City health officials have identified as propaganda that’s helping to fuel a measles outbreak in the region. Written by an anonymous group that calls itself Peach — Parents Educating and Advocating for Children’s Health — the document laces largely unproven anti-vaccination theories with passages from Jewish religious texts.

With the outbreak sickening more than 300 people in the city since October, Mayor Bill de Blasio declared a public health emergency under which people who don’t get their children vaccinated face fines. With the start of Passover this past weekend, the risk of spreading measles increases as families gather for the eight-day holiday.

Feldman, who is on maternity leave, said she has personally been putting in more than four hours a day debunking misinformation in the booklet, which is being passed around in ultra-Orthodox Jewish communities in two Brooklyn neighborhoods. (CNBC)

These people have been brainwashed into thinking they’re doing to right thing. Instead they’re putting many at risk.

Measles can be a serious in all age groups. However, children younger than 5 years of age and adults older than 20 years of age are more likely to suffer from measles complications.

Common Complications
Common measles complications include ear infections and diarrhea.

  • Ear infections occur in about one out of every 10 children with measles and can result in permanent hearing loss.
  • Diarrhea is reported in less than one out of 10 people with measles.

Severe Complications
Some people may suffer from severe complications, such as pneumonia (infection of the lungs) and encephalitis (swelling of the brain). They may need to be hospitalized and could die.

  • As many as one out of every 20 children with measles gets pneumonia, the most common cause of death from measles in young children.
  • About one child out of every 1,000 who get measles will develop encephalitis (swelling of the brain) that can lead to convulsions and can leave the child deaf or with intellectual disability.
  • For every 1,000 children who get measles, one or two will die from it.

Measles may cause pregnant woman to give birth prematurely, or have a low-birth-weight baby. (CDC)

This is why I think the government, not parents, must dictate who gets immunized. Not everyone can get immunized, it’s up to the rest of us to make sure they stay safe — that means everywomen else must be vaccinated.

Here are the non-scientific results from the recent Sunday Poll:

Q: Agree or disagree: Parents, not government, should determine if their kids get the measles vaccine.

Strongly agree: 1 [3.7%]

Agree: 1 [3.7%]

Somewhat agree: 0 [0%]

Neither agree or disagree: 1 [3.7%]

Somewhat disagree: 1 [3.7%]

Disagree: 7 [25.93%]

Strongly disagree: 16 [59.26%]

Unsure/No Answer: 0 [0%]

A majority agree, but we really need 100%!

Herd immunity against measles requires that 90-95% of the entire population are immune, whereas vaccination coverage is measured as the percentage vaccinated of the target population – which only includes people who are eligible for vaccination. This means that to achieve 95% immunity in the population for measles, vaccination coverage needs to be higher than 95%. This is the scientific argument for a public health policy that aims at 100% vaccination coverage.

More importantly, there is an ethical argument to be made for the goal of 100% vaccination coverage. It sends the right message. Everyone who can get vaccinated, should get vaccinated – not only to protect themselves, but to protect those who can’t, through herd immunity. (IFL Science)

If you’re not vaccinated, go immediately. If you’re older like me and not sure if you got the required doses in the 1970s be sure to ask your doctor to check the next time s/he are doing blood tests.

— Steve Patterson


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