The Los Angeles Times published this a couple of days ago and it is, in a word, devastating. The graphic below was provided by the Council on Foreign Relations and it illustrates in shockingly easy-to-understand visual language the impact the anti-vaccination movement is having in countries which should be free of easily preventable diseases. Outbreaks of whooping cough, thought to be eradicated almost entirely, now appear in places like the United States and Europe with even greater frequency and in larger numbers than in the economically underdeveloped world.
Here’s the story in The Verge:
The state of Wisconsin alone saw more than 7,000 cases of the disease between 2011 and 2013. In California, the number was over 10,000. At least 10 babies died in the state from the disease in 2010. In 2009, there were no news reports of vaccine-preventable diseases in the state of Washington. In 2012, the state suffered five distinct outbreaks of whooping cough, totaling 7,000 cases of a disease that was once close to eradication. Similar outbreaks have occurred in Australia and the UK — both countries with advanced vaccination programs. This discrepancy could be due to the map’s data source: the Council of Foreign Relations relied on news reports to collate its information, and reliable reporting from the developing world is usually trickier to find than news from inside the US or UK. But the outbreaks also appear to have intrinsic links to the anti-vaccination movements present in these economically advanced countries.
The Council on Foreign Relations Global Health Program began tracking vaccine-preventable disease outbreaks in late 2008, in the wake of the rise of the anti-vaccination movement spawned by an entirely discredited report by British researcher Andrew Wakefield. Wakefield, as you know, claimed that the MMR vaccine was linked with autism. That led idiot celebrities like ex-Playboy bunny Jenny McCarthy to begin preaching the gospel of Google Search Science and warning parents about the dangers of vaccinations (after claiming that she had “cured” her own child’s autism with vitamins). And that led stupid, gullible parents to nod their heads in acquiescence then go and do likewise, while complicit media organizations began giving McCarthy a credible platform from which to spout her dangerous nonsense.
I said this a couple of weeks back but it really does need to be stated over and over again, and the above map proves it: If a responsible doctor recommends that your child adhere to a vaccination schedule that’s slightly different than what the CDC advises, that’s one thing. But if you don’t vaccinate your child or withhold certain recommended vaccinations, you’re a shitty parent. Period. More than that, you’re a lousy human being because you fail to take into consideration or simply disregard the fact that your child has to interact with other children at some point. And he or she can be putting those children — other people’s children, good parents who’ve been smart enough to protect their kids — in mortal danger. Like it or not, none of us lives completely inside a bubble, which is where the entire notion of a common good comes from — because sometimes you have to suck it up and take one for the team, accepting that your choice can negatively impact the choices of others. In this case, your freedom not to vaccinate your kid comes into direct conflict with other people’s freedom to live without having to fight off certain dangerous diseases your little walking petri dish is susceptible to and might be carrying.
These diseases shouldn’t exist anymore in any country where modern health care is readily available. They were supposedly eradicated decades ago. Unfortunately, they’re now back, and they’re back thanks to the one disease that’s virulent and apparently incurable: stupidity.