Mumps is something we read about in history books, or maybe hear about in some anecdote shared by our grandparents. Measles, too. And whooping cough.
Except these ailments are no longer part of history. They are quickly becoming our present. Not because vaccines designed to practically eradicate these diseases are no longer working — but because some people who won’t vaccinate their children have common sense that’s no longer working.
It doesn’t matter how many doctors and medical experts declare there are no serious risks to vaccination, more and more parents are shaking their head no to the very treatment that has made some very scary diseases — like smallpox, for example — something we should never have to worry about in our lifetimes.
Yet we do. Because every child walking around without their vaccinations not only pose a danger to themselves, they pose dangers to other people.
Sure, you might have a vaccine for measles, but vaccines aren’t 100 percent effective. You can’t get a shot, and then expose yourself to a room full of infected people and expect to be OK.
Part of the effectiveness of vaccines comes from lack of exposure to the disease. And how do you avoid exposure? Well, you can either live in a bubble, or you can surround yourself by others who have had the same vaccine as you.
The recent measles outbreak in both New York City and on Long Island have created a call by lawmakers — including Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz — to remove religious exemptions from vaccination. The reason for this is because while everyone should have the right to practice the religion of their choice (or none at all), there are many abusing that practice as a way to object to vaccination.
And the more people we interact with who haven’t been vaccinated, the higher our odds of getting sick. And no one has the right to make a choice that could potentially endanger the health and safety of another person — and that’s exactly what failing to vaccinate does.
There was a time we celebrated immunologists like Dr. Jonas Salk, who developed the polio vaccine, as heroes. Now some are trying to cast them as villains.
But they aren’t. The real villains are these misguided souls fearing vaccines, because their inaction threatens everyone.