What About This . . .? By Wayne William Cipriano

Recently, I was driving with some guys and I heard a snippet of a conversation between a radio call-in host and a caller.

The caller was speaking of dangers he noted with immunization inoculations given to combat what  a lot of people refer to as ‘childhood diseases’. I didn’t hear which ones, but I guess they were mumps, measles, chicken pox, small pox, polio, and so on.

After the caller had his say about those dangers, and some of the statistics he said were accurate, the host responded, and I certainly agreed with his position, and here’s mine:

Many people are burned by fire every year, some are electrocuted by electricity, and a huge amount of people are injured or killed by automobiles. And yet, we do not stop using fire; we do not stop using electricity; we continue to drive. These things make our lives easier, and in exchange for the conveniences of fire, electricity, and cars, we accept the potential dangers. The conveniences.

Immunization by inoculation saves lives, not just makes our lives more convenient, but saves thousands, perhaps millions, of lives every single year. In some cases, like small pox, and to a great extent Poliomyelitis (polio), immunization programs have virtually ended the existence of some of these people killers, not just protected us against them, but eradicated these diseases which have preyed on us since the beginnings of our race.

And while there is no doubt that some miniscule percentage of those inoculated suffer minor distress, and an even smaller number become sick, and a very few even die, the overall benefits of inoculating against these terrible diseases far, far outweigh these potential dangers.

Yes, if one of my loved ones were to be in that vanishingly small percentage of people suffering serious repercussions because of a shot I had arranged for them to get, I would be devastated. But the possibility of that happening is so remote, and the results of not inoculating are so much more dangerous that there is no real contest between getting and avoiding immunization inoculations.

Now, there are those who say they and their families can avoid immunization programs because everyone else around them has been immunized, and there is no chance of coming into contact with someone having such diseases (no reason to stop at a “STOP” sign as there are probably no cars coming?)

I don’t have to say how I feel about those who would use that “herd immunity” idea to allow their neighbors to take the infinitesimally small risk of injury to help protect them, but would avoid that tiny chance of potential damage to themselves.

But I will point out that should someone enter a population carrying one of these diseases, a population in which some are unprotected by immunization, the catastrophic and complete unnecessary damage done to those unprotected persons would of course be physically serious. In addition, there is the psychological trauma that would be experienced by those who allowed those who allowed those for whom they are responsible to avoid immunization. The damage done to those who look to us for protection,  protection we failed to provide, would fall on us due simply to our misinformed hysteria.

And finally, a word to governmental organizations like schools that allow un-immunized persons to enter and mix with their populations. STUPID! In the true sense of the word: “unaffeced by outside stimuli.” In this case, ignoring credible information that cannot be denied and surrendering to foolish, dangerous behavior based on childrens’ fears of a needle prick and that adult misinformed hysteria.

We insist on such behavior from our fellows, from traffic regulations to cultural mandates that are thousands of years old based on shared responsibility that we all accept via the social contract we use to allow us to live together. How can we turn our backs on a 150 years of scientific/medical progress against diseases that have ravaged our species for millennia and subject ourselves, our families, and our communities to a form of injury/death roulette? 

Take the shot.