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Global Vaccination Week

Written By | April 24, 2014 | Posted in Medicine | No Comments

Legend tells of a man bitten by a radioactive spider who gained superhuman abilities. He and others like him are classified as superheroes: larger-than-life figures who perform heroic deeds for the betterment of mankind.

I want to share with you briefly about an even greater group of superheroes, men like Jonas Salk, John Enders, Thomas Weller, and Frederick Robbins who discovered an early form of the Polio vaccine. Let us not forger Thomas Peebles who worked with John Enders to create a vaccine for measles. We also have Edward Jenner, who came up with the earliest form of smallpox vaccine. These men have collectively saved countless millions. They have literally changed the world. Without them and many like them, a good number of us would not be around today.

Vaccines are one of the greatest gifts of modern science. For ages on end, sickness and disease have ravaged civilization. While another modern marvel, antibiotics, greatly aid in beating off infections, vaccines make it possible to avoid infection altogether. Diseases which just a few decades ago caused chaos and dread are unheard of today. Many of us know people disabled from childhood polio caught during the polio epidemic of the 1950’s, but none of us know anyone contracting polio today.

One staple of superhero stories is that sooner or later people will turn on the superhero. He will be seen as the villain, or too great a threat to be trusted. All manner of ill will be attributed to him and he will be ostracized until finally proving that the world really does need him.

Drawing from Hollywood, there are many people today playing out the same script with regard to vaccines. They are a small minority, but they are vocal. The anti-vaccination crowd wants you to believe that vaccines do more harm than good. It does not matter that every relevant study either fails to support their claims or outright refutes them, it does not matter how many lives have been saved and how many people are now protected, these anti-superhero activists are raising the cry against vaccines. As a result (while granted that this correlation does not prove causation, it is a powerful correlation), we are seeing a small but increasing incidence of completely preventable diseases here in the US.

Even now, a measles outbreak is sweeping the US. Just last year, another measles outbreak was attributed to a church that called for its followers to decline vaccinations. Because of the outbreak, the church reversed course and promoted vaccination.

The World Health Organization has declared April 24-30 Global Vaccination Week. The scientific support behind vaccinations is overwhelming and history itself reminds us of all the good brought about by vaccines. These superheroes deserve our appreciation and our adoption. Be sure yours are up-to-date and be sure to vaccinate your children.

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