October 10, 2006

WHOOPING COUGH IS BACK: “State laws that make it easy for children to skip school-required vaccinations may be contributing to whooping cough outbreaks around the country, a study suggests. . . . Compared with stricter states, those with easy exemption policies had about 50 percent more whooping cough cases, according to the study. Also, about 50 percent more people got whooping cough in states that allowed personal-belief exemptions, compared with those allowing only religious exemptions, the study found.”

I wrote a column on a related topic a while back. It’s here. Bottom line: “Drugmakers get sued for defective products; ‘activists’ and sensational journalists do not. If I were to start a drug company, and peddle a drug with no more evidence of its safety and efficacy than anti-vaccine activists and their media allies had to peddle their approach, and if as many people were made sick, or killed, as a result, I’d probably be in jail now. So where’s the accountability for the people whose bogus claims and hysterical coverage led to this situation? Nowhere in sight. With that sort of an incentive structure, we’re lucky that we’re not in worse shape.”

UPDATE: Reader Paul Strasser emails:

Take it from an adult who got whooping cough two summers ago. It sucks, big time. My son first got it from some kid at school whose parents believed that the vaccine was dangerous. The kid got it, and transferred it to my son, who then gave it to me. It was god-awful. But even worse was listening to my son cough so loud, so hard, then actually have to gasp and gulp for a breath of air – every few minutes you think your child is suffocating. Every time he did this (and he was a trooper, bless his soul) I silently swore a blood oath against those damn parents who think that vaccines are evil. No, the parents were inconsiderate, stupid bastards.

Yes, both my son and I had our vaccines.

The vaccines, alas, aren’t perfect — and because of that, it’s important that enough people be vaccinated to prevent transmission. If you don’t have enough vaccinated people to produce “herd immunity” then the level of protection is lower for everyone, even those who get the shots.

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