Whooping Cough Returns
Well, perhaps not “returns”, as it hasn’t been destroyed in the way that smallpox was, but these kinds of stories are unnerving:
Several children have been sent home from a Greeley school this week for what appears to be whooping cough, and a local health official said Friday that the possible outbreak illustrates the importance of vaccinating children.
As of Friday morning, there has been one confirmed case of Pertussis, the medical name for the disease that can cause permanent disability or death in infants, at University Middle School. Three other middle school students are awaiting lab tests to determine if they, too, have the upper respiratory infection that causes extreme coughing with a whooping sound.
Heidi Musil, health education specialist for health communication, education and planning at the Weld County Department of Public Health and Environment, said all immunized diseases have what’s called a breakthrough disease that affects immunized people.
“With Pertussis there can be as high as a 20 percent breakthrough,” she said. “However, the more people who are immunized a (wider) immunity is created and that offers increased protection to those who have not been immunized or who the vaccine doesn’t work for. Immunization is still very important.”
Even if this is an isolated incident, it still makes my blood boil. I knew a guy when I was an undergrad who was convinced that mandatory vaccination was an intolerable abridgment of his liberty, even to protect school children. He also thought taxation was immoral. I was a fairly committed libertarian at the time, but still found his ideas repugnant. I never convinced him that he was wrong, but I did point out that he was protected by herd immunity and he was endangering others by not getting vaccinated himself.
Of course, even the garden variety crank is harmless compared to a know nothing celebrity. Jenny McCarthy is, of course, who I’m referring to. She still seems to be holding to the discredited Lancet study, even though it was retracted and its lead author, Andrew Wakefield, lost his license to practice medicine.
Dealing with people like Jenny McCarthy is very frustrating; it’s frankly like dealing with birthers, who won’t believe President Obama was born in the U.S. no matter what evidence is presented to them. When it comes to a technology that has saved countless lives, the burden of proof to curtail their use, much less get rid of them, is enormous, and lies with the person making the assertion.
UPDATE: A guy named Charles Simmins apparently saw this post and sent the following articles to me via Twitter: Fewer Children in U.S. Receiving Vaccines and California’s Whooping Cough Epidemic Centered in Rich, White Counties. The second article addresses something Michael Reynolds mentions in the first comment to this post.