Friday, February 6, 2015

Anti-vaxxer from the extremes on the right and the left

I get frustrated by the anti-vaxxers.  The notion that vaccination causes autism has long been disproven.  The idea was apparently proposed by a Doctor in 1998, Dr Andrew Wakefield.  But his study was false, he was disbarred, the paper was retracted.  What more do people need? 

I am old enough to have gotten measles when I was in the sixth grade.  It was a very difficult disease.  We had a president who was infected with polio - FDR.  The world had a much lower life expectancy rate before Dr Salk discovered the polio vaccine and proved the value of vaccinations.  Massive numbers of people have died from contagious air born diseases.  And now, some people have been convinced to refuse vaccinations for their children.  This is really a terrible idea. 

There seem to be two political extremes vulnerable to the anti-vaccination fad.  First are the hard right wingers who think that anything the government wants is bad, so they oppose it because the government says it is good, and they see the government as an oppressive enemy of freedom of choice.  Second are the food purity people on the left who think that if they just eat whole, nutritious foods no harm can come to them.  Apparently one of the centers of anti-vaxxers is liberal, wealthy Marin county, CA.  I've heard it claimed that if you want to find a lot of anti-vaxxers, just draw a circle around Whole Foods stores. 

Both groups, meet contagious disease!  It doesn’t matter what the government says or what foods you eat, you will get the measles, or polio, or…  Vaccination is one of the greatest benefits to humankind in the twentieth century, and some seem to be longing for the days when, for example, the native Americans were extinguished more by the contagious diseases brought by the Europeans to America than by the calvary.  I guess we forget the terrors of contagion since we don’t see it.

So, today we are treated to the spectacle of a Republican presidential hopeful, Jeb Bush, needing to be courageous when he says he thinks all parents should get their children vaccinated.  It's like thinking that it would be a courageous thing to say that their children should wear boots in the snow.  This is a strange bit of silliness, it seems to me.