Don’t relive diseases

By Joe Rector

It’s possible that I’ve covered some area of this subject before, but evidently, some readers in the USA didn’t see the column. So, I am duty-bound to restate my take on this subject. Some might agree with me while others might find my reasoning faulty and unconstitutional. At any rate, here goes.

First off, I’ll remind everyone about the definition of freedom. The word means “the absence of coercion or constraint in choice or action.” For us who aren’t as refined, freedom is the ability to do as we please. The thing about my freedom is that it ends where another person’s begins.

With that out of the way, I can now talk about vaccinations. Covid shots are where I could begin, but that topic has been hammered for too long. Instead, I’m bringing up vaccinations from long ago. We older people remember them, and a few others might vaguely recall those protective inoculations.

The worst of the bunch was the immunization for smallpox. That one begins with a bunch of needle sticks and ends with a scar on the upper arm that resembles a crater on the moon. A person’s approximate age can be determined based on the appearance of the upper left arm.

The next worse was the series of polio vaccines. The first two were given via syringe with a needle that looked a foot long. The last one was given in a lump of sugar.  Children and adults alike were more afraid of the disease than the shots.

My generation didn’t have vaccines for measles, mumps, and chickenpox. Children caught those illnesses and were ill for days. Measles covered our bodies with bright red rashes; chickenpox blistered our entire bodies and sent us to soothing baths that temporarily stopped the itching. The mumps came with swollen glands and sore throats. Swallowing was almost impossible. Most of our days were spent in beds with fevers and completely lousy feelings.

Today’s young people are luckier. They only need to receive vaccinations to prevent having any of these diseases. In fact, most of them are wiped out in this country. Wait a minute. Some place in Ohio has 82 cases of measles; outbreaks of chickenpox and even polio are occurring in the country. The culprits for this medical problem are anti-vaccines adults. A whopping 28 percent of adults say that MMR vaccines shouldn’t be required for a child’s ability to attend school, even if that might lead to infecting vast numbers of children.

Here is where the question of freedom comes in. Is it okay for a minority to make choices that have potentially life-threatening consequences for the majority? Before anybody answers that question, he or she should realize that as many as 500 persons died from measles and between 3-4 million were infected each year. At its height, polio cases reached 52,000 with more than 3000 deaths. This disease was nearly wiped out in 1952 through vaccines, but now we hear cases are reappearing because some parents don’t want their children to be immunized.

Common sense should push all parents to have their children protected from dangerous diseases. Present-day demands for individual choice over vaccines are nothing more than selfishness and abuse. Yes, we live in a democracy where freedom is prized; however, a democracy functions under the principle that the majority rules, especially when public health is being attacked.

No political or religious beliefs should be cited as a reason not to immunize children. In the last century, our country and its citizens subscribed to the idea of “in loco parentis” in regard to schools. That meant that during the days, the schools served in place of parents. Requiring immunizations for all students was an action taken by a good, loving parent who is protecting his family.

The time for the minority rule must come to an end, especially when the health of citizens is in the balance. Common sense decisions must once again be at the forefront of our actions in all areas. Anyone who has seen a child in leg braces or an adult held prisoner in an iron lung knows how important vaccinations are. No parent should be allowed to make a foolish and possibly deadly decision against vaccinating a child.