Friday, May 2, 2014
This is a map of "vaccine-preventable outbreaks" worldwide 2008 to 2014.
Two things stand out. One is the prevalence of measles in Europe and the U.S. Measles is rampant in the underdeveloped world because of the unavailability of the MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) vaccine. But in the U.S. and U.K., it's an artifact of the anti-vaccination movement. Second is the shocking incidence in the U.S. of whooping cough, also caused by vaccine panic.
Researchers point to the effect of "non-medical exemptions" from legally required immunizations -- those premised on personal belief rather than medical reasons.
The lesson of all this is that vaccination is not an individual choice to be made by a parent for his or her own offspring. It's a public health issue, because the diseases contracted by unvaccinated children are a threat to the community. That's what public health is all about, and an overly tolerant approach to non-medical exemptions and the publicity given to anti-vaccination charlatans like discredited British physician Andrew Wakefield, starlet Jenny McCarthy, and panic-promoters like Katie Couric affect us all.