Letter: Communicable diseases do not discriminate
Regarding Bethanita Michele’s response regarding anti-vaxxers. Ms. Michele, Smallpox and other diseases introduced by Europeans killed an estimated 90 percent of the peoples indigenous to North and South America in just a few generations. Smallpox killed additional millions worldwide. Smallpox was eradicated by 1977 due to a worldwide vaccination effort.
Due to vaccinations, Smallpox has been eliminated as a disease across the globe. Polio crippled and killed millions. Although polio still exists in isolated pockets it has been largely eliminated in the Western world due to vaccines.
In the United States alone an estimated 80,000 people died from flu or flu related diseases such as pneumonia or COPD in 2017. While the flu vaccine is only 40 to 60 percent effective, it does prevent a significant number of people from getting it and or spreading it.
In 1918-1919 an estimated 500 million people worldwide (about one-third of the world’s population) were infected by a variant of the H1N1 virus, an estimated 50 million people died. That is three percent of the world’s population! A similar number today would be over 230 million deaths. Had a vaccine been available at the time, millions of deaths could have been prevented.
To suggest that a belief system that is “anti-vaccine” does not pose a risk to others is ludicrous! Vaccines not only prevent and lead to the eradication of disease, they also prevent the spread of disease on a global scale.
With travel in our modern age, a single carrier of a preventable disease such as measles can expose literally thousands of people in multiple countries to the disease in a single 24-hour period.
You are correct in one thing Ms. Michele, 60,000 people is a lot! That’s 60,000 people that regardless of scientific evidence and an insistence on perpetuating pseudo-scientific rhetoric are exposing the rest of the world to the risks associated with their belief system.
Ms. Michele, As far as race or gender is concerned communicable diseases do not discriminate.
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