Some CA schools approaching 9 in 10 unvaccinated rates

From an op-ed by Robert Gammon in East Bay Express:

End the Vaccine Exemption

As the measles outbreak in California continues to spread — the number of reported cases reached 73 on Monday — it’s becoming increasingly clear that the state should end its so-called “personal belief” exemption for childhood vaccines. Currently, California is one of about twenty states in the nation in which parents can use the personal belief waiver. Most states only permit medical or religious exemptions for childhood vaccines.

For the measles vaccine to be effective for everyone, about 92 percent of the population needs to be have been fully vaccinated. But because of the personal belief waiver and the anti-vaccination movement, many communities in California fall well short of the 92 percent threshold. As a result, the measles, once thought to have been eradicated, has come roaring back to life.

But the anti-vax crowd shouldn’t have the right to endanger the health of the rest of us. The movement, which fears a link between childhood vaccines and autism, gained traction during the Aughts, following the revelation that the federal government had ordered the removal of the mercury-based preservative thimerosal from vaccines. Thimerosal had been used widely since the 1930s, and a study in the late 1990s claimed to have uncovered a link between the preservative and the rise of autism nationwide. That study has since been widely discredited. Moreover, thimerosal is no longer used in vaccines for children six and under (except for some flu vaccines).

As such, there is no longer a basis for the personal belief exemption in California. New York City doesn’t have it, and only 0.2 percent of public school students there have been exempted from vaccines, according to the Los Angeles Times. In California, wealthy parents who send their kids to private schools appear to be especially prone to using the exemption. For example, according to the LA Times, at the Berkeley Rose private school, the parents of 87 percent of kindergarteners in 2013 used it.

That’s not only dangerous, it’s disturbingly anti-science. Measles is a serious disease with serious consequences. And vaccines work — if they’re widely used. California, in other words, should stop pandering to the anti-vax crowd.

EIGHTY SEVEN PERCENT exempted from vaccines. In one school.


In case you missed it…
Arsenal For Democracy – Dispatches from the end of the empire:

Apparently our ancestors crossed the harsh Great American Desert in search of a better life so their descendents a century and a half later could go to a children’s amusement park in Orange County and still contract the same damn diseases because somebody’s parents in the year Two Thousand Fifteen of Our Lord have the same understanding of infection transmission as any given covered wagon driver.

Dispatches from the end of the empire

Apparently our ancestors crossed the harsh Great American Desert in search of a better life so their descendents a century and a half later could go to a children’s amusement park in Orange County and still contract the same damn diseases because somebody’s parents in the year Two Thousand Fifteen of Our Lord have the same understanding of infection transmission as any given covered wagon driver.

“People Not Vaccinated for Measles Urged to Avoid Disneyland”

People who haven’t been vaccinated against measles, including children too young to be immunized, should avoid Disneyland after new infections were linked to the theme park, California public health officials said Wednesday.

So far, 70 people in five U.S. states and Mexico have contracted measles in an outbreak that was traced to Disney parks in December and has since spread into the community. The vast majority of infections — 62 — occurred in California, and the tally is expected to rise.

Health officials uncovered new measles cases linked to visits to Disney parks in January after the incubation period of the original outbreak.

Since measles is highly contagious, people who have not received the measles-mumps-rubella, or MMR, vaccine are susceptible and should avoid visiting Disney “for the time being,” said state epidemiologist Gil Chavez.

We’re now reaching a particularly decadent phase of our decline where people are reintroducing eradicated disease outbreaks to America solely by voluntarily refusing to make use of widely available, decades-old, very basic medical science solutions.

It’s one thing if your civilization is wiped out by a disease you had no way to resist. It’s another if you’re too arrogant to vaccinate your children against easily preventable 19th century diseases and thus endangered everyone else.

America, F@#$ Yeah. We’re number one.


NGO caught experimenting on Ebola patients in Sierra Leone

The Al Jazeera headline above is misleading and would be way scarier if corrected: It’s not an “Ebola drug” being tested on Africans, it’s a completely unrelated drug (a heart medication) that some Italian NGO decided unilaterally also works against Ebola, even though it doesn’t and there’s no evidence to support that claim. British medics are saying that they think the use of this drug is actually killing more patients with Ebola, and the British government demanded that the Italians stop using it. It was also not approved for use by the local government.

As the Liberian author of the Al Jazeera piece says, abuses like this are exactly why locals don’t trust “Western medicine” in the first place. From the colonial era to — as she discusses — Tuskegee and Guatemala, or even to the more recent fake CIA vaccination program in Pakistan, there are simply a lot of good reasons for the poor and vulnerable populations of the world to fear medical “assistance” from Western governments and doctors. This disgusting abuse in Sierra Leone is only likely to worsen that fear, even as local medical facilities and staff have been completely overwhelmed and outsiders have become necessary to halt the outbreak.

Moreover, the author notes that Ebola has been around since 1975, so “urgency” is hardly a valid excuse to throw all the ethical rules of drug testing out the window.

Credit: Wikimedia

Credit: Wikimedia

Warning: Genetically Moronic Organisms

The U.S. left’s anti-science movement is almost as bad as the U.S. right’s anti-science movement. The anti-science-right thinks everything is an ungodly development (or will hurt the oil & gas industry). The anti-science-left wants us all to die of cholera, measles, and mass starvation so long as we all use only “all-natural” medicine and food, supposedly because humanity survived before the modern stuff.

True — and life was miserable because everyone was sick or hungry until they died, hopefully not before popping out enough surviving children to keep the species going.

I’m fine with the critiques of environmental sustainability of food production, but many of the modified crops are more sustainable and have a lower ecological impact than the “natural” and “organic” competitors. And I want everyone to have enough to eat, which is hard to execute without higher-caloric food and drought-resistant crops.

I’m also not going to sit here and pretend that more or less every crop consumed by humans for the past wasn’t genetically modified by humans, via trial-and-error and then formalized food science, for the past twelve thousand years. You can be mad at the health effects of some of the engineered food combinations, and you can be mad at the role of the broken patent system in the GMO world, but you can’t be mad at “genetically modified” food as a concept, because then you’re just mad at all food humans have ever grown.

Even the maize the English colonists found in the “New World” in the early 17th century was engineered by indigenous populations of the Americas for thousands of years before it was a productive, large-ish food crop even close to modern corn. It’s not some twisted Mary Shelley novel up in those food genetics labs. They’re figuring out how to feed everyone.

Meanwhile, the critiques of modern, settled medical science (such as vaccination) are unacceptable and dangerous, as previously covered by Arsenal For Democracy. The only exceptions are on things we know are still in need of improvement, such as pain management and antibiotic over-use. But nobody is going around claiming those areas are a-ok. Doctors and researchers are pretty aware of those problems and are working on them.

Everything that is settled won’t be re-opened just by you rolling out of bed and checking up on your favorite conspiracy blog, the one your buddy from suburban parenting group told you about. Maybe start worrying about actual, verifiable pollution of drinking supplies near vulnerable populations (often non-white and usually low-income) before telling your doctor she’s a sheep for trying to get your kid vaccinated to go to school.

Between the two anti-science factions — right and left — it’s no wonder this country is seeing a rise in childbirth deaths of women and has an infant mortality rate not matched in peer nations. But at least we’ll be back to everyone dying at 30 — like God and/or crunchy Mother Earth intended. YOLO.