The new plague rats

That’s not what Amy Wallace calls them, it’s what I call them. Parents who don’t vaccinate their children, to avoid the one-in-two-million chance of dangerous reactions, are bringing back the old childhood killers.

Amy Wallace wrote:

In May, The New England Journal of Medicine laid the blame for clusters of disease outbreaks throughout the US squarely at the feet of declining vaccination rates, while nonprofit health care provider Kaiser Permanente reported that unvaccinated children were 23 times more likely to get pertussis, a highly contagious bacterial disease that causes violent coughing and is potentially lethal to infants. In the June issue of the journal Pediatrics, Jason Glanz, an epidemiologist at Kaiser’s Institute for Health Research, revealed that the number of reported pertussis cases jumped from 1,000 in 1976 to 26,000 in 2004. A disease that vaccines made rare, in other words, is making a comeback. “This study helps dispel one of the commonly held beliefs among vaccine-refusing parents: that their children are not at risk for vaccine-preventable diseases,” Glanz says.

They are also endangering those too young to immunize, those with compromised immune systems such as transplant recipients and older people whose immune response to vaccines drops as they age.

Read An Epidemic of Fear by Amy Wallace.

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