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Berginski: Consider vaccinating

By Staff | Jan 9, 2015

I was sick over the Christmas holiday. I had the flu, if you want to get all technical about it. You’re probably going to ask, “Didn’t you get a flu shot?” No, I didn’t, and I had no excuse for it. A flu shot may have protected me, maybe it wouldn’t have it’s kind of a gamble depending on which type of flu will infect the most people.

Speaking of infections, did you know there’s an outbreak of measles in Mitchell, S.D.? Okay, it’s nine people, ages ranging from 1 to 41, in a family who chose not to vaccinate.

Those who choose not to vaccinate have their reasons: Some vaccines may still contain a preservative called thimerosal, (ethyl mercury) or metals like aluminum which sounds scary. Vaccines could contain ingredients some people may find morally objectionable, like aborted chicken fetuses, cells from humans or other animals. Why should people vaccinate if some diseases that would’ve killed hundreds or thousands years ago aren’t really active today? Vaccines have side effects or may supposedly cause autism. (I’ll get to that in a little bit.) Getting poked by needles hurts. I can understand religious, moral or philosophical reasons, but there’s a lot of misinformation out there guiding some people in their decision to not vaccinate. Those who peddle misinformation are playing a dangerous game, one in which you, your children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren shouldn’t be pawns.

The anti-vaccination movement really intensified with a 1998 paper by Andrew Wakefield and 11 other doctors published in The Lancet, a medical journal. The paper was about a study chronicling children who supposedly became autistic after receiving the MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) vaccine. It was based on horrendous science, reeked of an ulterior motive ($$$$) and DID NOT prove vaccines or any ingredients in them caused autism, despite continued assertions to the contrary.

Advances in medical science including better medicines and vaccines have made the flu, smallpox, tetanus, diphtheria, polio and whole hosts of other diseases not seem like death sentences anymore. And yet, UNICEF reported that each year around the world 118,000 people die from the measles, 195,000 die from whooping cough and 60,000 die from tetanus. All of them are preventable with vaccines.

Look at some of the benefits. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that children vaccinated over the past 20 years have saved our country $1.38 trillion in societal costs and in losses in productivity. When a very large portion of a population is vaccinated, people who aren’t are protected through what’s called “herd immunity”. In fact, vaccines save 2.5 million kids a year. Side effects are so rare that in the 2.5 million kids who are vaccinated each year, an estimated two, yes two, kids experience anything most likely an allergic reaction.

With that in mind, unless you have a religious or moral objection, please, at the very least consider vaccinating.

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