As we’re aware, parts of California are suffering from an epidemic of whooping cough. In June, the LA Times reported that Los Angeles County alone had already logged and confirmed 345 cases of pertussis this year, and the problem will only get worse as the school year progresses.
LA County’s Department of Public Health released a statement asking parents to do the right thing and immunize their children.
“We are asking residents to make certain that everyone in your family has been vaccinated to help stop the spread of pertussis,” said department director Dr. Jonathan Fielding. “Being vaccinated protects your family and reduces the chance that pertussis will spread to our most vulnerable residents — infants who are too young to be fully vaccinated.”
The “anti-vaxx” movement has taken hold in Los Angeles County, especially among wealthy Hollywood parents. The Hollywood Reporter notes that the region’s falling vaccination rates are “leaving some schools’ immunization rates on par with South Sudan” in an in-depth study of the whooping cough epidemic and vaccination.
“The kids aren’t all right. Across California, thousands of children and babies are coughing so violently that their bodies convulse, uncontrollably wheezing and fighting to breathe for weeks. Nearly 8,000 pertussis cases have been reported in 2014 to the state’s Department of Public Health as of Sept. 2, and 267 of those patients have been hospitalized, including 58 requiring intensive care.”
Children’s Hospital Los Angeles has seen 72 pertussis patients this year. “A number of them have been in the ICU and very, very sick,” CHLA infectious disease specialist Dr. Jeffrey Bender told the Reporter. “They cough so hard, it turns into vomiting and broken ribs; they end up intubated, to ventilate their lungs.
“An examination by The Hollywood Reporter of immunization records submitted to the state by educational facilities suggests that wealthy Westside kids — particularly those attending exclusive, entertainment-industry-favored child care centers, preschools and kindergartens — are far more likely to get sick (and potentially infect their siblings and playmates) than other kids in L.A.,” the Reporter notes. “The reason is at once painfully simple and utterly complex: More parents in this demographic are choosing not to vaccinate their children as medical experts advise. They express their noncompliance by submitting a form known as a personal belief exemption (PBE) instead of paperwork documenting a completed shot schedule.” Some schools have more than five times the national average in PBE filings.
The Reporter included an interactive map that shows exactly how dire the situation is. Users can adjust the map to isolate medium and high-risk cases. More than half of parents at numerous schools filled out a Personal Belief Exemption Form, which allows them to send their children to school without the proper vaccinations. In some schools, more than 70 percent of parents filled out the forms.
The Reporter notes that, while adults are capable of contacting whooping cough, 94 percent of cases statewide involve children. So far this year, three infants under two months have died from whooping cough in California.
Just how fast is the epidemic spreading? This fast.
What sort of parent would choose not to vaccinate his or her children? According to local pediatricians, only complete morons who believe the anti-vaccination propaganda pushed by Jenny McCarthy and Rob Schneider, as well as sham autism organizations that peddle fear as a means of gaining support.
“Many irked local pediatricians, however, describe a parent profile defined by ignorance that’s sheathed in arrogance. They say these misguided guardians are seduced by anecdotes about “vaccine-damaged children” and are prone to confirmation bias (the impulse to favor information that affirms pre-existing beliefs). In addition, assert some doctors, these parents tend to believe hours accrued researching on the Internet and engaging in urgent conversations within their social circle give them the authority to debate the legitimacy of immunization with their child’s health care provider.
“It’s a sense of entitlement and it comes out of a customer mentality since they are often choosing their doctor and paying cash,” says Dr. Nina Shapiro, the director of pediatric otolaryngology (ear, nose and throat conditions) at UCLA’s Geffen School of Medicine and a vocal critic of anti-vaccine sentiment.”
Whooping cough is not the only problem the area faces. Measles outbreaks, according to the CDC, are at a 20-year high. In more than half of measles cases, which are occurring mainly in children, the victims were intentionally not vaccinated.
Across the country, schools are beginning to address the problem. Recently, a Brooklyn, NY Federal District Judge ruled in favor of New York City Schools’ policy that forces unvaccinated children stay home — sometimes for months at a time — if a child has a vaccine-preventable illness.
Citing a 1905 ruling that the state of Massachusetts could legally fine a man for refusing a smallpox vaccine, Judge William Kuntz ruled that religious (or anti-science) objectors are not constitutionally exempt from vaccinations.
For more information on anti-vaxxers, talk to a wall…or watch this video.