Quid Rides? De te Fabula Narratur

What are you laughing at? The joke's on you.

Who Thought Vaccines Were an Option?

Posted by Anthony on February 4, 2015

 

As we have just turned over a new year (well, for those following the Gregorian calendar in any case), it is always a good idea to take stock of where we are, how the past year has been, and where we’re going from here. I had a discussion the other day with a friend who asked about how much longer I thought the human race would manage to keep itself on the universal stage. An interesting question, to be sure, since it requires one to contemplate any number of the myriad situations that might bring about the extinction of humanity (even if not rendering the Earth a lifeless globe). Some are, of course, beyond anything we can stop: a rogue black hole finding its way into the Solar System, or a Gamma Ray Burst that happens to annihilate the atmosphere. Some, however, are preventable even if to certain degrees: we could, for example, take measures to stop an asteroid from obliterating our planet though it would require a tremendous effort and cost, just as we could make the inevitably required move off of our planet and either onto Mars, the most likely candidate as a planet, or to a ring-world of sorts, which is not nearly as fantastical as it might seem.

Other means of rendering homo sapiens extinct are entirely within our hands: global warming, nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons proliferation, even overpopulation or a pandemic. Fine, I’ll throw in the Zombie Apocalypse though I do believe that sort of falls under the pandemic umbrella. So let’s say for arguments sake that, taking the latest end-of-world disease upon which the media has chosen to fixate, this Ebola vaccine works. It works, and within months we can essentially have this horrific plague all but eradicated from the face of the Earth. It sounds like a no-brainer, right? I mean who wouldn’t want to be rendered immune from a sickness that causes one to bleed from all openings in the body and suffer a gruesome and painful death in a matter of days?

Yet in the United States, there is (and has been for some time now) a growing movement against vaccinating children. Spurred on by the thoroughly debunked “study” of Andrew Wakefield, who fraudulently claimed in 1998 to have found a link between vaccinations and autism, parents across the country have chosen not to have their children rendered safe against these hideous diseases. As a result, not only are we seeing more outbreaks of these formerly rare illnesses, but two further problems have arisen: first, the possibility that we might dip below the “herd immunity” level of protection (where even individuals who have not chosen to vaccinate get the health equivalency of the economic “free rider” dilemma) and, second, that by allowing these diseases to continue existing they could (and if a recent French report on Ebola is to be believed, have) mutated to other strains… strains that are possibly not protected by our current round of vaccinations.

Polio, that hideous disease which has been eradicated in the United States, remains a problem elsewhere in the world because in certain areas the vaccination programs are stymied by a combination of political expediency and religious obfuscation. Polio, which again should have been eradicated globally, not only remains a threat but has an increasing number of victims worldwide as a result of these misguided individuals and, Taliban I’m looking at you, groups. Before we go ahead and throw the “well, that’s their problem not mind”, one must remember that people travel. In the age of the jetliner, one is never really more than a few hours removed from the possibility of contracting a disease against which one has no immunity since in our country they no longer give out vaccinations since, as I may have stated before, the disease has been eradicated.

At many schools in the United States, they have strict “no peanut” policies designed to protect those children who have allergies from the nasty possibility of going into anaphylactic shock as a result of some parent innocently bringing in some peanut butter brownies for a little one’s birthday. This is a good thing. The health and safety of the majority must take priority over the desires of the minority. Yet when a parent refuses to have their child vaccinated because of either holding on to this farce of a report from twenty years ago or some outlandish religious belief, we feel that we have no rights to stop them from having their children attend our schools. In fact, we view it as their “right as a parent” to put their child at such risk as to possibly become infected with a disease for which we have had a preventative course of action for the past sixty years.

Vaccinations should not be an option in the United States any more than paying taxes. Parents who refuse to have their children vaccinated should have them refused schooling for starters and ideally ordered by a court to have the vaccinations carried out. Your “rights” as a parent, which are still rather wide in scope here in the United States, do not extend to the breadth and depth of putting an entire populace at risk because of your beliefs. Pseudoscience is not an acceptable answer to reality; whereas once there could be earnest debate about the Steady State vs. “Big Bang” theories on the origins (and future) of the Universe, today no such debate remains. Science has decided things, and only disillusioned individuals cling on to a disproved theory. So should it be with vaccinations. To live in society, one must conform in certain areas… without exception, this should be one of them.

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