Thursday, February 5, 2015

No Immunity

Since when did vaccinations become a political issue?
I went to my doctor the other day and got a blood test to see if the measles vaccine I received long ago was still effective, in light of the latest measles epidemic and a recent report that the vaccine may have worn off for people in my age range who received it early in life.  I wanted to be vaccinated again in case it did wear off.  The doctor drew blood and I, foolishly, thought he could test the sample in maybe half an hour or so.  It actually takes a little longer - about a week.  I expect to hear from him by this coming Monday.
I mention this to illustrate the fact that, while I may know nothing about medical science (science of any sort was always my worst subject in school), I know that vaccines are necessary . . . unlike some Republican presidential "prospects."  My own governor, Chris Christie, says that while he supports vaccines and has had his own children vaccinated against diseases, he thinks there should be freedom of choice for parents and that those who may not want their children vaccinated should be given flexibility.  (Freedom of choice . . . for abortion, no; for vaccinations, yes.)  Meanwhile, Kentucky senator Rand Paul said that vaccines should be voluntary and explained that his concern with making them mandatory was prompted by claims from constituents whose children had suffered "profound mental disorders" after being vaccinated.  He had to clarify later that he was not opposed to vaccinations, attempting to play it both ways between those who support getting shots against diseases and those who don't.
The anti-vaccination movement that started in England and has been pushed in America by noted science experts like Jenny McCarthy has not become not so much a disbelief in science as a fear of government getting involved in people's lives - a fear of government-mandated vaccinations.  This is silly, of course (although two states that have made vaccinations mandatory haven't had any problems of any sort), but with government held under suspicion for over forty years, pushing against mandatory vaccinations is a good way to garner votes from the many idiots in These States who think the feds are trying to regulate how we personally take care of our own health.  But there's also the public health to consider, as well as the need to understand that private health decisions affect the rest of us. Someone who does not vaccinate his or her children allows the measles to spread and create a dangerous epidemic.  But then, it must be understood that, when it comes to public health, the Republicans have nothing against the "health" part.  It's the "public" part they don't care about.
That's why Christie, Paul, and other Republicans with last names that sound like first names object to mandatory vaccines. That's why House Republicans voted for the 56th time to repeal the Affordable Care Act, why the newly Republican Senate will vote for the first time to repeal it,  and why the right-wing Supreme Court may repeal it for them.  That's also why North Carolina's new Republican senator, Thom Tillis, suggested that the government shouldn't have to go so far in regulating restaurants as to mandate that employees wash their hands after using the bathroom before handling food.  (Remember that "Seinfeld" episode about the restaurant chef who left the bathroom without washing his hands?)            
But what's really sad about this country is the need to place on restaurant bathroom walls signs that say, "EMPLOYEES MUST WASH HANDS BEFORE RETURNING TO WORK," a point of fact that, long ago, went without saying.  

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