Friday, February 22, 2013

Whooping Cough in Vermont

Vermont is in the midst of a whooping cough epidemic, with more than 700 cases reported in the past 12 months. In 1976, only 1,000 cases were reported in the entire United States.

It's no secret why Bordetella pertussis is coming back. It is coming back because so many parents are refusing to vaccinate their children. To defeat a highly infectious disease, the vaccination rate has to be more than 90 percent. In Vermont, home of so many Whole Earth Catalogers, the state allows a "philosophical exception" to its vaccination requirements, and the rate has dipped to 60 percent. As a result, children are getting sick. And when children get sick, they can spread the disease to young babies, for whom it can be fatal. In 2012, there were at least 41,000 cases of whooping cough in the United States, and at least 18 babies died.

That seems to me like a very high price to pay for tolerating the irrational fears of granola parents.

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