15 April 2019
Cogito Ergo Non Serviam
There is an outbreak of measles in the United States, despite the CDC proclaiming that the disease had been eliminated from the US in 2000. It is not that the CDC was wrong. Measles in the US ceased to exist, but because the disease still infected people outside the US, it could come back. Thanks to anti-vaccine idiocy, the virus has traveled from abroad, and currently, the disease is infecting people in New York State. There is a clear public interest in vaccinating everyone. Just as the freedom of one's fist terminates at the end of another's nose, the freedom not to vaccinate must be limited in order to protect others.
The World Health Organization has made it clear. "Even though a safe and cost-effective vaccine is available, in 2017, there were 110 000 measles deaths globally, mostly among children under the age of five. Measles vaccination resulted in a 80% drop in measles deaths between 2000 and 2017 worldwide. In 2017, about 85% of the world's children received one dose of measles vaccine by their first birthday through routine health services -- up from 72% in 2000. During 2000-2017, measles vaccination prevented an estimated 21.1 million deaths making measles vaccine one of the best buys in public health."
Yet, there are people who resist the idea that vaccinations work, or who believe that their potential side effects are worse than the disease. Thanks in large part to Andrew Wakefield, a physician whose anti-vaccine research in Britain has been discredited in the UK (to the point where he cannot practice medicine there) and to the moronic echo-chambers created by the internet, some people don't vaccine their kids. Others avoid the life-saving injections for religious reasons. The good news is that the stupid gene that expresses itself in these people will be naturally selected out. The bad news is that some kids are going to die in the process.
The current outbreak is focused in Brooklyn and Rockland County, north of New York City. A large segment of the population here are ultra-Orthodox Jews. The New York Times explains, "The measles outbreak began in New York in October, after ultra-Orthodox Jews had returned from Israel where they were celebrating Sukkot, a Jewish harvest festival. They had prayed at the Western Wall, eaten in sukkahs and vacationed in the warm weather. But Israel was in the midst of a monthslong outbreak, and health officials have said that several unvaccinated children came home with the virus."
It is obvious that these people are victims of bad information. A Yiddish-language magazine has circulted in the neighborhood called "The Vaccine Safety Handbook." The NYT explains that the handbook "appears innocuous, a slick magazine for parents who want to raise healthy children. But tucked inside its 40 pages are false warnings that vaccines cause autism and contain cells from aborted human fetuses. 'It is our belief that there is no greater threat to public health than vaccines,' the publication concludes, contradicting the scientific consensus that vaccines are generally safe and highly effective."
To fight this, leaders of the community have held conference calls, distributed leaflets of their own and more. But the damage is done. Some people will simply not accept the fact that vaccines are responsible for the radical declines in infectious diseases. They can cite the magazine articles and other drivel as their "proof."
Still, there are people like Shoshana Bernstein, a Hasidic mother in Monsey, a town in Rockland County. "A basic Jewish tenet that every Jewish child is raised on, is love your friend like yourself," Ms. Bernstein said. "This is woven into the very fabric of who we are, which is why the current situation is extremely frustrating because it is the complete opposite of our essence as Jewish people."
In a pluralistic society like the US, there is no better way for Americans of every sort to act. E pluribus unum, and get the shots, for the sake of one's neighbor at least.
© Copyright 2019 by The Kensington Review, Jeff Myhre, PhD, Editor. No part of this publication may be reproduced without written consent. Produced using Ubuntu Linux.