e had it eliminated … in the 1980s.
Measles have popped back up, as more and more parents are choosing to not get their children vaccinated.
The U.S. is now at a 91% vaccination rate – lower than Zimbabwe, lower than Tanzunia.
That’s not good.
What vaccinations are we talking about? Dipptheria, tetanus, pertussis, polio, measles, mumps, rubella, hepatitis, meningococcal, human papillomavirus.
Could we be looking at a polio outbreak again? What about successful campaign to get polio and rubella vaccinations to the general public? Should we backtrack on all the efforts to eradicate these crippling and debilitating diseases?
Because that’s what could happen.
With an ever increasing number of unvaccinated children, the possibility of newborns and pregnant women being exposed is more and more possible.
And the consequences of an infant getting measles is severe. One to two infants out of every 1,000 who get measles dies. This highly contagious virus, spread through coughing and sneezing can live on a surface or in the air for upwards of two hours – long after an infected person has left the scene.
How contagious is measles? Almost 90% of unvaccinated people who come in contact with the virus get the measles. And they are contagious for days before they even know they have the measles.
So, these children come to school, spread it to other children, and, lo and behold, we have another epidemic.
If an uninnoculated pregnant woman is exposed? Her child is likely to be born early with low birth weight – putting that child at risk for all kinds of problems.
And that’s just measles. Why put an infant through whooping cough horrors? While adults may only face two or three weeks of runny noses, extreme fatigue and the high-pitched “whoop” sound, infants can’t handle it. They can’t cough at all, they struggle for breath and have actual pauses in breath.
Should polio make a comeback, we all know those consequences. A life in an iron lung is not something that should be wished on any human.
It’s not surprising that Hays CISD is looking at the same kind of problem that the entire U.S. faces. Locally, there are 321 children out of the 17,995 students attending HCISD who are not immunized – 277 for reason of conscience and 44 for medical reasons.
Medical reasons make sense. Children taking certain medications cannot take the vaccines. But, if everyone else were vaccinated, there is less of a chance a disease would be present in schools.
Let’s face it. There’s the law of free riding – if the vast community of people are vaccinated and can’t get the disease, then, of course, those who cannot be vaccinated will not get it either.
It is unconscionable that the few who want to keep their children from taking the shots should expose newborns and pregnant woman – and the other children who can’t have vaccinations – to these diseases.
It’s not a world we want to relive – being told that a child will never walk again, knowing that the measles has caused a deafness, or that mumps has turned into encephalitis.
Vaccinations were important for a reason – because they let people live a normal life, free from disabilities and horror.
That’s not important to some people, though.
As someone recently said, “There’s no vaccination for stupid.”