By Ed Barker
Legacy of a Mentor ~ Feb. 2, 2015

Take a fun family trip to Disneyland, include a ride on the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, get your picture taken with Mickey Mouse and enjoy the sights, sounds and joy of “the happiest place on earth.”

Until someone sneezes.

The Pinal County Public Health Services District has confirmed a fifth case of measles in an adult male, who visited Disneyland and is now recovering from all the fun. His case raises the possibility that some Pinal County residents may have been exposed to measles since the patient visited public locations while infectious. This man was born after 1957 and reported having only one dose of MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella) vaccine while growing up. Two doses of MMR vaccine are recommended in persons born after 1957.

But one sneeze didn’t cause this most recent outbreak. This outbreak was caused by years of piled-on ignorance .

How could there be a measles outbreak in 21st century America, you ask? It’s because many of your fellow Americans have retreated to the Dark Ages.

The respiratory disease that can lead to severe complications like pneumonia was formally “eliminated” in this country more than a decade ago. But it’s making a comeback even though a routine vaccination for measles is 99 percent effective.

Unfortunately, the vast majority of those infected had not been immunized because the anti-vaccine movement is alive and well (pardon the pun).

One current study estimates more than 12 percent of children do not receive all the recommended vaccinations. Public health workers are scrambling to collect information. Schools are sending home unvaccinated students. Small children who are too young to be vaccinated are put at risk. State officials have warned that anyone not vaccinated should avoid places where large crowds gather. Parents’ baseless fears about a link between vaccines and autism is once again having an impact— on everyone else.

The anti-vaccine movement is rooted in pure, unadulterated fiction. It grew out of a 1998 study linking a childhood immunization to autism that was debunked and retracted by the British Medical Journal where it had been published. Great Britain stripped the author of his medical license after the study was debunked and it was later learned that the author had been paid by a law firm that intended to sue vaccine manufacturers— a serious conflict of interest he failed to disclose.

Since then, no credible scientist has found a correlation. A recent analysis of 67 research studies found no evidence that vaccines cause autism. None. Zero. Zip.

Polio was pronounced dead in the Western Hemisphere years ago after one of the most successful public health campaigns in history. But now it’s sneaking through a community in Minnesota, spreading from an 8-month-old girl to four children on two neighboring farms.

Polio has no known cure— but there is a vaccine. And worried public health officials say polio may be on its way to making a comeback because of an unfounded fear of vaccine.

Fear and ignorance have always been the companions of hoax. Frankly, I don’t care if you believe that more children die of bathtub drownings than of accidental shootings. They don’t. And believing such propaganda doesn’t make the 2nd Amendment stronger or your children safer. It just makes you stupid.

You may believe cigarettes don’t cause cancer. They do.

I don’t care if you believe airplane contrails are poisonous gases. They’re not.

The Y2K scare came and went without a glitch, but you can keep believing all the claptrap you wish.

However, parents who refuse to vaccinate their children should keep them out of every public place until they’re immunized. The rest of us are tired of the disruption and public health threat caused by cretins who choose to ignore science at the cost of public safety.

Immunizations are among the greatest breakthroughs in the history of medicine. They save lives and have eradicated deadly and crippling diseases like small pox and polio. When Americans are immunized, all places, including Disneyland, are safer for the rest of us.

The moon is not made of green cheese. The Earth is not flat. And vaccines have not been credibly linked to autism.

So, put down your “smart” phones and back away slowly.

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