Letter to the editor: Vaccines are crucial
I was distressed to read Hank Baughman’s letter “Vaccines are safe?” (March 3, TribLIVE) and to think that it might spur some parents to delay or skip some vaccines.
In Washington state, where vaccine exemptions are allowed, at least 69 children have contracted measles this year — 43 percent of the 159 cases nationwide. Before the measles vaccine was made available in 1963, there were approximately 48,000 hospitalizations and 500 deaths every year. Vaccines also guard against other childhood diseases, including mumps, whooping cough and rubella. During the 1964-65 rubella epidemic, 11,000 babies exposed to the virus in utero were born deaf, 3,500 were born blind and 1,800 were born developmentally disabled. The vaccine for rubella was available by the late 1960s.
Some anti-vaxxers cite physician Andrew Wakefield, who published a paper in the late 1990s indicating a link between the childhood vaccine MMR and autism. His paper was retracted after it was found he falsified data, and he was stripped of his medical license. There have been at least 12 large-scale studies which have found no link between vaccines and autism.
The World Health Organization has labeled “vaccine hesitancy” one of the 10 global health threats for 2019. Vaccines create “herd immunity”; if enough people have their shots, diseases can’t spread as easily and that protects people whose immune systems are already compromised.
For those of you thinking your child will be safe because everyone else is getting the vaccine, please think of others in your community whose continued well-being might just depend on you.