I happened across this online this morning just after reading about the possible return of a full-blown polio epidemic by the year 2022 – possibly even sooner. Recently, in areas of our own medically advanced, first-world country, four cases of polio have been reported this year. That doesn’t sound like much, but it’s four up from 1994 – 2005. How can this happen, you ask? How can polio, an illness that was all but wiped out by vaccines by the 1960’s? Well, because parents aren’t vaccinating their children.
We all know about Jenny McCarthy’s and Jim Carrey’s crusade against vaccines because they contain animal DNA and mercury – not that either of them know what either is – without any knowledge or education at all as to why these things are part of vaccines, or how much. Sadly, these were the same protests that were heard in the epidemics in Europe centuries ago. What we also know is that many people buy into it, despite the lack of science behind the claims against vaccines. Goes to show just how much we’ve advanced since the 1600’s in educating the public in matters of science.
I posted this because I really want to know, aside from education, what we can do to narrow this disconnect between modern science and the general public. Because if we don’t, this is what we have to look forward to:
…and there’s no reason that we have to look forward to our past repeating itself if we can prevent it, no matter how much work it’s going to take. We need to overcome the scare tactics of the anti-vaxxer conspiracy public, and begin to properly educate people on what vaccines are, of what they’re comprised, what can they do for you, and what their real-life risks are (no, autism is not one of them).
Another step we can take as a country is figuring out how to make IPV’s as cost-effective as OPV’s. OPV’s, on a very rare occasion (1 in 750,000) can have side effects including the potential for paralysis. IPV’s do not carry this side effect because the attenuated in the vaccine cannot revert. If this is step one, then what is step two? Education. What is the consequence to refusing to put more money into vaccine education in North America? I’m sure you can see the trend.
With the recent uproar of whooping cough, as well as polio in the American southwest, and cholera in the American central and southeast, what is next to make a return for the anti-vaccine crowd that is putting all of our lives in jeopardy?