I probably had measles as a kid. I know I had mumps and chicken pox. But at my age and given that our immune systems are less effective in older years, I look dimly on being exposed to anything that can be avoided. One of my news feeds remarked that travelers who passed through an airport in northern Virginia last weekend might have been exposed to a child with measles. I wasn’t in Virginia, but I am in random airports now and again, and there are lots of children in airports.
Anti-vaxxers fall into a number of categories, ranging from the trendy to the easily duped to those with religious objections — no matter how misguided. Mainstream religions don’t teach that children shouldn’t be vaccinated. Under “trendy” I include a woman — also in my news feeds — who has a Vitamin C based remedy to cure autism and to obviate the need for vaccines. She has a number of followers, and 2000 children are undergoing her regimen.
I don’t know what we do about this. We can prevent unvaccinated children from going to school, but we can’t prevent them from walking through airports, or going to a local restaurant or drugstore or library. We only have to look at countries where vaccines are not widely available to know the danger for unvaccinated children and by extension, adults. A few years ago Panama had a swine flu outbreak — most people there don’t get flu shots because the vaccine isn’t widely available. A global health group donated 1M doses of flu vaccine, but the infrastructure isn’t in place to administer vaccines quickly and across large numbers of people. Because of that, many people — the very old and the very young — died.
There have always been a small number of anti-vaxxers, but the number seems to be growing along with the growing distrust of science, facts, and truth. It’s a bad trend.