In West Los Angeles there is an epidemic of Pertussis, or as it is more commonly known, Whooping Cough. It’s a preventable disease caused by bacteria which was nearly wiped out by vaccination, but has enjoyed a comeback along with Measles, Mumps and other preventable diseases thanks to the anti-vaxxer movement in recent years.
This is due to the growing number of often well-educated people who prefer to get their medical advice from the likes of Jenny McCarthy and Tom Cruise and not the medical community.
According to the CDC, prior to 1950 each year saw over 100,000 cases of the disease, a number that saw steady decline until the 1990s when the number of reported cases once more began to climb. Since 2003, there have been over 10,000 cases reported each year, all due to the fact that these well-intentioned but misguided parents feel that they know better than the medical community about what is good for their children’s health and welfare.
Nowhere in the country has there been a greater impact than in West Los Angeles, a wealthy community where less than 50 percent of the children in school are fully vaccinated against Pertussis and other diseases. Parents there have filed PBEs (Personal Belief Exemptions) instead of vaccination records when enrolling their children in schools.
They mistakenly believe that not vaccinating their children or choosing to use a modified schedule of vaccination puts no one else at risk.
This has no basis in fact. According to the medical community, it is not only immunity of the individual that is important, what is required is what the medical community refers to as “herd immunity,” vaccination of at least 90 percent of a population is what protects us all. This is because no vaccine is perfect and some of those who are vaccinated may have only partial immunity.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, in Los Angeles county alone, there have been 1,317 cases so far this year.
“It’s a smoldering fire that has started and it could be a complete wildfire if vaccination rates continue to fall,” said Dr. Deborah Lehman, associate director of pediatric infectious diseases at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center.
As more and more people look to celebrities for medical advice instead of listening to what their doctor advises, we can expect more people every year to die of preventable diseases. One need only look to the 1918 Influenza pandemic which sickened 500 million people worldwide, killing 50 to 100 million to see what this sort of careless behavior could lead to.
The video below from The Hollywood Reporter looks at the argument from both sides.