When I was younger, it was popular to describe California as “the land of fruit and nuts.” The state was depicted as rife with hippies, drugs, and wackos. Of course, this is an unfair characterization, but there is a certain element in the Golden State that resists going mainstream.
And one of the disturbing areas where there is a large fringe element is in the anti-vaccination movement. I recently read a report that officials were warning unvaccinated people not to visit Disneyland due to an outbreak of measles, most of which occurred at the Anaheim park. This report follows last year’s major outbreak of whooping cough, where once again, California led the nation in cases of a disease that is serious and potentially fatal, especially to infants.
The anti-vaccination movement has gotten out of hand. There are no credible scientific reports that demonstrate these vaccines lead to autism, yet high profile celebrities have begun crusades against these life-saving medicines. Come on, people. Do you really want to get your medical advice from Jenny McCarthy?
I have experienced first hand the sometimes deadly consequences of contagious diseases. My own sister died from complications of measles when she was eight years old. I also met a woman who had lost her son to complications of chicken pox.
While many would argue that getting children vaccinated should be a parent’s decision, the failure of large numbers of families to vaccinate has made it a public health issue. If less than 95% of the population is not vaccinated, we lose what is known as “herd immunity,” and diseases that were all but eradicated can come roaring back.
The reappearance of contagious diseases such as measles and whooping cough are especially serious for young infants who have not yet received immunizations. They can also affect the elderly, whose immunity may have waned and who may not have the physical health to withstand a bout of serious illness.
The public should also be aware that booster shots are required throughout our lives to help keep up our immunity and protect us and others from a reemergence of diseases like measles, mumps, rubella, and pertussis (whooping cough).
I respect others’ rights to make choices based upon their personal or religious beliefs. But when their actions endanger the safety and health of others, that’s where I draw the line. So get yourselves and your children vaccinated. That’s an order!