Tuesday, February 10, 2015

The Measles Scare


Hal Pepinsky, pepinsky@indiana.edu, “peacemaking” at pepinsky.blogspot.com

February 10, 2015


                The current debate in the US over whether to require schoolchildren to be vaccinated against measles omits mention of medical consensus on the vaccine’s efficacy.  One dose lowers your chances of infection to 5%; both doses lower the odds significantly further; and those who get measles, including those who get one dose within 3 days of infection, get a relatively mild bout of the disease.  If you are in a community where 90 percent of your fellows are vaccinated, the risk virtually goes to zero.

                In sum, those who are not vaccinated pose virtually no threat to those of us who are.  Where most of us are vaccinated, the risk even to those of us who are not is low, and the illness is treatable.  I hate to see unvaccinated children be punished by keeping them out of daycare and school (ironically denied the chance to build their natural immunity with other children), especially when unvaccinated children pose virtually no threat to those who are.   Whatever the personal wisdom of getting vaccinated might be, turning the measles outbreak into a public health matter is one more symptom of our cultural tendency to treat social problems as problems of identifying and correcting offenders.  Love and peace, hal

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