The medical community has been raising a lot of concerns over the last few years about the low vaccine rates in our county. The non-scientific hysteria over vaccines, based on information that has been debunked by science and promoted in such local media as the Townsend Newsletter, poses a serious health threat to our community that, so far, we have been lucky to avoid. In New York’s ultra Orthodox community, however, the price is starting to come home, as this article in Vox describes. This goes along with the news story from just the other day, that a 26 year old woman who worked on Fox News and would rail against vaccinations, died of complications from flu. It’s been 100 years since we had the last serious outbreak of flu, and like many lessons, subsequent generations have people like these unfortunate folks, that have forgotten or never clearly understood the price that was paid by not having a flu vaccine back then. Millions died. We hope that we won’t go that far before the anti-vaccine crowd retreats into the dustbin of history. And we sincerely hope it won’t be because they or their families paid the price for their misguided beliefs.
A small side story is that my grandmother became a nurse because of the flu epidemic of 1918, and she ended up meeting my grandfather because of her work. I heard the concern in her voice when she would talk about how horrible it was. She witnessed, in her career, the enormous benefits that vaccinations of flu and polio had on saving her patients. She also saw the astonishing benefits of anti-antibiotics, a true miracle drug to her, as she had witnessed so many children die of various bacterial infections.