From the Greek meaning 'heavy with wine'
A blog devoted to science and reason
Written after a glass or two of Pinot Noir.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Stupid People Killed This Baby

This is Dana Elizabeth McCaffery.  She lived for 33 days.  She contracted pertussis, also known as whooping cough.  There is no treatment for whooping cough.  

How did this beautiful baby catch pertussis? 

All children should get the series of DTaP shot that protects from diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis. The first in the series come at 2 months.  Four other shots come later.  There's another vaccine Tdap that's meant for people ages 11  to 64.

What should have protected Dana is herd immunity.  When a sufficient number of people in a community are resistant, the few who are susceptible are protected from the disease, because the probability of a susceptible person coming into contact with an infected person is small.

To be protected from pertussis, at least 94% of the community needs to be vaccinated.  Dana had the poor luck to be born in a community with one of Australia's lowest vaccination rates.

Why are people not being vaccinated?  The only answer I have to that question is - stupidity.

Vaccines may be the second most important advance in medical science, second only to proper sanitation.  Vaccination has eradicated smallpox.  Polio is unheard of.  As a child, I had the measles, mumps, and chicken pox (with the scars to prove it).  What child gets these once common diseases today?  The MMR vaccine was introduced in the United States in 1971, and the varicella (chicken pox) vaccine was developed in 1995.

But thanks to stupid people like Jenny McCarthy, the National Vaccine Information Center, and Andrew Wakefield, there is a decline in the number of vaccinations.  Andrew Wakefield started this nonsense with a paper published in the British medical journal, The Lancet, that has fully retracted the paper and called the paper "false."  The British organization responsible for maintaining medical standards, the General Medical Council, found that Wakefield acted with "callous disregard" toward children and with "dishonesty."

I'm inclined to be a but more tolerant of Jenny McCarthy, because she's a mother who truly has the health of her child in mind.  But my tolerance goes only so far when her anti-scientific opinions endanger the health of an entire community.

The anti-vaccine National Vaccine Information Center's tag line is "Your Health. Your Family.  Your Choice."  I wonder what Dana's parents feel about "your choice."

I encourage anyone to investigate the science of vaccines.  Here's a few recommended sites:

If science doesn't convince you, then see if you can watch this video of a 7 week old infant suffering from pertussis.

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