Parents who are afraid to vaccinate need a wake up call.
Sure, you have every right to make decisions about your kids' health. But you definitely don't have the right to put my kids at risk.
That is exactly what is happening.
Although diseases that standard vaccinations prevent remain statistically low, the numbers are rising at an alarming rate. Last year, at least 10 infants died in California alone from Whooping Cough in what was considered the largest outbreak in 60 years.
They caught it from people who were not vaccinated.
A Harvard instructor, David Ropeik, wrote an article for Contemporary Pediatrics magazine's August issue. Ropeik is an expert on risk.
He said immunizations prevent about 42,000 deaths and 20 million cases of disease. The net cost savings is nearly $14 billion (with a B) in direct costs and $69 billion (another B) in total societal costs, he said.
He claimed that parents who choose not to vaccinate do so out of fear. He should know. He said fears like these are deeply rooted and respects the fact "that no amount of communication or dialogue or reasoning can make people really worried about vaccines stop worrying."
OK, so I try to respect every parents' decision to make the right choices for their own children. I truly believe in this. However, right choices must be based on information, not fear.
The British Medical Journal called the study linking vaccinations to autism an "elaborate fraud." Then the Center for Disease Control, the National Institutes of Health and the World Health Organization all agreed.
The risk of developing a disease or disorder from the measles vaccine is one in a million. Whereas, the risk contracting something from the measles virus is only 1 in 1,000.
These numbers were quoted in the Aug. 22 issue of Time in an article titled "Vaccinate or Leave. More pediatricians are firing families for not giving their kids shots," by Jeffrey Kluger.
Immunizations prevent between 2 and 3 million deaths each year, says the World Health Organiation.
Ropeik asks readers to consider one small outbreak. He described a real situation when an unvaccinated Swiss woman visited Tuscon, AZ.
She got sick, went to the hospital, and within three months, 14 people, including seven kids, had gotten measles. Seven of the people caught the disease while at a healthcare facility. Four were hospitalized.
The costs to two local hospitals was $800,000. State and local health departments paid tens of thousands more tracking down the exposed then quarantining and treating them.
According to Time, the annual average number of measles cases in the U.S. from 2001 to 2008 was 60. As of August this year, we already had over 154.
Nonimmunized people rely on the masses to be vaccinated. It's called herd immunity. However, the U.S. is losing herd immunity, big time.
This puts our most vulnerable at risk, such as infants, children and people who have compromised immune systems. Yes, our cancer patients are contracting some of the more horrific, preventable diseases.
So here's the deal: when you don't vaccinate your kid, you put my kid at risk. If that's the way you want to roll, fine, more power to you. That's your right.
But do us all a favor — literally. Go find an isolated commune somewhere. Leave the rest of us alone.