Our View: Shot in the arm needed for anti-vaxxers
February 8, 2019
Jenny McCarthy needs to be singled out for her views on vaccination.
The anti-vax movement — a belief that vaccinations are linked to autism in children and should be avoided — isn't completely McCarthy's fault. There are many culprits responsible for one of the most damaging misinformation campaigns to sully this country. You can see their effects in the recent measles outbreak in Washington state.
But McCarthy's been outspoken on this issue. She's telegenic. People listen to her instead of the collective wisdom of seasoned medical professionals who know of what they speak.
It makes her an easy target, which is appropriate because her beliefs have helped turn the children of Nevada County into targets for disease.
Let's not mince words: vaccines save lives. We've almost eradicated polio on this planet. No legitimate medical journal supports the anti-vax beliefs of people like McCarthy.
There is no link between vaccines and autism. Diseases don't ascribe to anti-vax propaganda.
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Nevada County is notorious for having low vaccination rates. According to the county's 2016-17 demographic report, we had the lowest rate in the state for kids receiving all their immunizations before entering kindergarten. In 2015, only 77.1 percent of our kindergarteners were fully inoculated. In that year the state's overall percentage was 92.9.
County leaders say those numbers have since improved. They credit the passage of Senate Bill 277, which required immunizations for school students.
The county says it saw a significant increase after the law's passage, though those numbers have since tapered off.
That's good news, but not good enough. The percentage of our children without their shots should worry everyone. Those vaccines don't only protect those who get them. They help all of us.
That's because of herd immunity. Get enough people in a community vaccinated and that high percentage helps protect even those who don't get their shot.
However, we need between 80 to 85 percent of the population inoculated against polio for herd immunity to work, and between 90 to 95 percent for measles.
Nevada County has a ways to go. You just need to look at local schools that have closed their doors over a student with measles and kept unvaccinated kids at home for days.
Like most problems, everyone has a role to play in fixing this.
Parents must rely on good, verifiable science and get their kids inoculated. Discard the conspiracies that professionals have debunked again and again. Take advantage of the medical technology at our disposal and ensure our community is protected.
People who lived through the dark days of polio need to share their stories. Many don't know about the fearful days of closed swimming pools. They haven't seen a grown man limping down the sidewalk years after having suffered from the disease.
All of us need to recognize the poison that filters through our social medi feeds. We must use critical thought when scrolling through the pablum that too often dominates online conversation.
Stop allowing people, whether Jenny McCarthy or a neighbor, to spew nonsense masquerading as science. They only hurt the health of our community and county, spreading misinformation as if it were a disease that clouds our minds and actions.
We wish there were a shot to fix that.
Our View is the consensus opinion of The Union Editorial Board, a group of editors and writers from The Union, as well as informed community members. Contact the board at EditBoard@TheUnion.com.
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