Be Sure to Thank an Anti-Vaccination Parent for Contributing to the Return of Whooping Cough

Whooping cough
Take that, parents who don’t vaccinate their kids

If you were to read that the bubonic plague were making a comeback, you’d probably check the calendar. After all, it’s 2013, not 1347, and there’s no reason for tens of millions of people to die — again — as a result of a disease for which a vaccination is now available.

So who, you ask, are the parents out there not vaccinating their kids against pertussis, more commonly known as whooping cough? You know, that highly contagious bacterial lung disease that causes coughing as ugly and violent as the final scene in “Breaking Bad.” Except this is real life. And people really still get sick and die as a result of shunning a vaccination that effectively prevents it.

I don’t have my mind blown that easily, but parents who don’t vaccinate their kids manage to blow my mind quite often. Whether it’s the simple little flu shot or polio or measles or whooping cough— everyone’s an expert. At least everyone who’s in on the conspiracy theory that vaccines are killers designed to do nothing but make the pharmaceutical industry richer at the expense of our children’s health.

Three years ago, California suffered a whooping cough outbreak that affected 9,120 and killed 10. A new study suggests it could have been in part as a result of un-vaccinated kids, according to The Huffington Post (via Live Science). The researchers analyzed local rates of kindergarteners who were exempt from vaccines due to their families’ personal beliefs and found that more cases of pertussis occurred in areas where kids were un-vaccinated by almost twice in some instances.

“Our findings suggest that communities with large numbers of intentionally unvaccinated or undervaccinated persons can lead to pertussis outbreaks,” the researchers wrote in the journal Pediatrics.

Maybe some people have, in fact, gotten ill as a result of vaccines, but I’ve also had unpleasant Pap smears and you don’t see me blaming my Ob-Gyn for trying to help me prevent cervical cancer. I didn’t go to medical school. I pay my family’s doctors big bucks because they did go to medical school and have done a terrific job of keeping us all alive and in tact — and not getting other people really sick in the process. Do the anti-vaccination folks question their car mechanics as much as they nitpick their doctors? How about their plumber? Or is it just the most highly skilled who are charged with keeping us healthy that have some thinking they know more, despite noticeably fewer degrees hanging on their office walls?

It’s one thing for a grown adult to educate themselves and choose to shun a vaccination. It’s a whole other thing to drag your kid into your cockamamie conspiracy theories and put them at risk of serious illness or death for anything other than a specific medical reason. Yes, people have died as a result of vaccinations. Same with open-heart surgery — but in both cases, the successes so far outweigh the failures that it’s absurd to think you wouldn’t do either as a result of risking the downside. Plus, if I go against my doctor’s advice and forgo open-heart surgery, the only person I’m hurting is me. If I turn down a vaccine? Who knows how many I might be hurting in the process.

It’s going to be a long life for the people out there who hang onto every word of fringe studies confirming the conspiratorial voices in their head. Except it’ll actually actually probably be a shorter life thanks to allowing these anachronistic diseases to become en vogue again.


Photo credit: iStockphoto

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