A legacy

Brilliant. An unvaccinated Berkeley student rides a BART train. It turns out he has measles! Hahaha what a riot; joke’s on him, right? Well no, it’s more that it’s on everyone who was on that train.

Phil Plait explains the background.

People who are unvaccinated have a much higher risk of contracting it than people who are vaccinated. The young man, confirmed to have a case of measles, was unvaccinated and had recently traveled to Asia, where he may have contracted the disease. Measles had been wiped out natively in the U.S. by the 1990s, but local epidemics can be triggered when unvaccinated people travel to other countries. This has happened over and again here in America in the past few years, which is why measles cases tripled in 2013. Tripled.

This new case is particularly worrisome to me because that area has lower vaccination rates than it should. Ironically, that’s generally the case for areas where people are more affluent and better educated (including parts of California and my own home of Boulder, Colo.); they hear anti-vax propaganda, look it up online, and find the nonsense spouted by the anti-vaxxers which in turn confirms their bias.

More affluent and better educated but not better educated enough. Better educated enough to be susceptible to anti-vax bullshit but not enough to see through it and look for more reliable information. Not, for instance, better educated enough to know what kind of havoc infectious diseases used to wreak.

Remember: When you get vaccinated, you are not just protecting you and yours. You’re also helping protect babies too young for their shots, older people, and people with compromised immunities (for example, those who are on immunosuppressants for cancer or arthritis treatment). Herd immunity is real, and important.

People like Jenny McCarthyAndrew WakefieldRFK Jr.NVIC, and the AVN are wrong. Vaccines don’t cause autism, have very low risk, and have huge benefits. I hope this situation in San Francisco doesn’t turn into an outbreak because that could be very nasty indeed. We’ve seen it happen too many times before, and it’s the legacy of those people above and others who spread anti-vax nonsense.

Unvaccinated people? Stay off the trains. Stay out of shops, schools, libraries – well just stay home, really. With the windows closed.



  1. sailor1031 says

    When I was a kid we didn’t have vaccines for polio, measles, chicken pox, rubella, pertussis and mumps. They were the common childhood diseases that went around. Some people died, others were blinded, others debilitated and crippled, some became sterile from adult mumps. This was serious. When the Salk vaccine became available people were not refusing to be vaccinated or to have their children vaccinated.
    There were vaccines for scarlet fever and diptheria and it was mandatory to be vaccinated. Result – these diseases were all but eradicated. Too bad they’re now on the way back! Vaccination today needs to be mandatory and anyone who doesn’t comply should be convicted and sentenced to community service and have to spend their time nursing a child with whooping cough or dealing with pregnant women who have german measles. These things are not a joke FFS. And NO it is NOT a question of individual freedom – you check that at the door when the safety of the whole community is at stake. Just ask the epidemiology folks down at your local Health Department Tuberculosis unit.

  2. quixote says

    sailor1031, I must be a bit younger than you because when I was a kid we all took the vaccine. In every neighborhood, there were older kids around, teenagers who’d been paralysed by polio, using those permanent metal crutches or wheelchairs.

    I remember a global study somebody did years ago (1990s?) about vaccination attitudes. Whenever people had personal experience with the diseases, such as older people or those in less-developed countries, there was near-100% support for vaccination. It’s ironic that the triumph of modern medicine is exactly what makes its beneficiaries careless of the victory.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *