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Rose, Santa Barbara Mission

Sunday, July 17, 2022

Lockjaw, anybody, typhoid?

Black plague illustration - London, 1625

I had a strong and crummy reaction to my second covid booster the other night. Nausea, flu like symptoms, it was not at all pleasant but thankfully only lasted a day or two. 

I mentioned it to a couple friends and was told that, no wonder, I had introduced poison into my body. None of the three had ever taken a single covid vaccine, presumably for this particular opinion that they held and shared.

Now charitably I would like to believe that their antipathy towards vaccines is only reserved for the covid vaccine but I decided not to continue to plumb the subject as I was probably better off not knowing if my supposition was incorrect.

Because, in my view, vaccines have really helped human beings. Without them, we would still be fighting polio and diphtheria, the former struck my mother as a child. Or, at least, that is what the data leads me to believe and surmise.

New reports are out that childhood vaccines are down significantly globally. 

Last year, 25 million children missed out on one or more "lifesaving vaccines" according to a new report from the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) and the World Health Organization (WHO).

"This is 2 million more than those who missed out in 2020 and 6 million more than in 2019, highlighting the growing number of children at risk from devastating but preventable diseases," the report notes. Those diseases include tuberculosis, diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, polio, hepatitis B, measles, rubella, rotavirus, pneumonia, yellow fever and HPV.

The trend represents the largest "continued backslide" in childhood vaccinations in 30 years, says the report.

This, in my mind, is terrible news. And I have to think a large part of the reticence is due to anti covid vaccine mis and disinformation. Although there was a small anti- vaxx crowd prior to covid, this politicized pandemic poured gasoline on the fire.

And experts fear we could lose some very important herd immunity if these rates do not go back to normal. 

The percentage of children worldwide who had received three doses of the vaccine against diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis, known as DTP3 — which Unicef uses as a benchmark for immunization coverage — fell five points between 2019 and 2021, to 81 percent. Measles vaccination rates also fell to 81 percent, and polio coverage dropped significantly, too. A vaccination coverage rate of 94 percent is necessary for herd immunity, to interrupt the chain of transmission of a disease.

The number of what Unicef calls zero-dose children — those who have not received a single dose of the most basic vaccines — increased sharply during the pandemic, to 18 million from 13 million in 2019. This group includes half of all children who die before age 5.

This is tragic news for mankind but in keeping with our recent declines and backsliding. One can only hope, for the children's sake, that the vaccination rates rebound quickly and that the anti science crowd loses favor with the uninformed public who seem to have less than optimal skills at evaluating empirical data and discerning what is true and correct in regards to science and medicine. Lives depend on it.

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