… but you won’t get sick from a preventable illness or pass it to your unborn child, condemning him or her to a life of misery. There’s that.
Kent Sepkowitz, an infectious disease specialist, recently wrote an article in The Daily Beast about the three latest outbreaks of congenital rubella – one each in Maryland, Alabama, and Illinois. The three women who gave birth to the afflicted infants were from Africa and had not been vaccinated. According to the article, one of the infants died and the other two are suffering from “severe abnormalities”. Now, normally this disease doesn’t do much to people, but it can be potentially devastating for pregnant women, especially early on:
In 1964-65, America had a major rubella epidemic, with more than 12 million cases and 20,000 babies born with congenital rubella; of these, 13,000 were deaf, 3,500 were blinded by congenital cataracts, and 1,800 more suffered severe cognitive impairment.
In addition, there is a far greater tendency for infants to spread the disease because they can remain contagious for months. What ended up controlling outbreaks like this was a vaccination program that was initiated in 1969. By 1971 the rubella vaccine was combined with measles and mumps to make the now-famous “MMR vaccine”.
Still, he argues, the danger is still very real, especially for people who travel to areas without the kind of vaccination program we have in the US. To see the effect it has in other countries should further demonstrate the need for its continuation here on a compulsory basis. No exceptions other than severe allergic reactions or some other threat to life. The misinformation by anti-vaccination groups and those who harbor lingering doubts thanks to the likes of fear-mongers like Jenny McCarthy is a severe hindrance to this, and in some cases those who fall for it are made acutely aware of the depth of their mistake when either they or a loved one is hit with one of these entirely preventable diseases. In some cases, the realization is made too late.
The Centers for Disease Control has an immunization schedule on their website. There are printable versions for infants, teens, and adults alike (… which reminds me, I need to get a few boosters myself).
To provide further emphasis, I give you South Korea. During the 20th century, they had suffered a number of outbreaks even with the vaccine, because of inadequate immunization programs. It wasn’t until 2001 after an especially severe outbreak did they implement a more comprehensive plan to eradicate the disease. Over the course of the following six years, they did just that.
Well, now it’s back. Investigation of its re-emergence points to its “importation” from other countries and – once again – inadequate immunization:
Among cases identified in the outbreak, 97% had inadequate history of immunization, 28% were not immunized at the recommended ages, and 22% were infants aged 6-11 months. […] In conclusion, inadequate immunization coverage, non-timely immunization, infants under 12 months of age, nosocomial transmission, and international importation may play important roles in the reemergence of measles in Korea during the attempted sustained elimination of the disease.
The moral of the story is that vaccination works. Don’t believe the conspiracies. Don’t think for a moment that “natural living”, homeopathy, or “energy work” will help you. These diseases have adapted for thousands of years (or more) to human biology, and without adequate protection provided by modern medicine, you will become infected.