Tuesday, August 11, 2015

An Open Letter to the Parents of Seattle

There is a word for it. Gobsmacked. It means to be utterly astonished or astounded and there is speculation that it refers to that inherent motion of covering one`s mouth - gob being a slang term for mouth back in the middle ages - in shock at hearing something unimaginable. And gobsmacked was what I experienced when I read that `Seattle Kids Have A Lower Polio Vaccination Rate than Rwanda, Zimbabwe, Algeria, Sudan, Yemen, Mongolia.`

Stop and think about this for just one moment...There is a whack of parents in Seattle who are quite comfortable gambling with their children`s future because they are suspicious of  the government and or medical community's  reassurances about the safety of the polio vaccine or who have suspicions that scientists don`t understand what they are talking about when it comes to the rate and range of vaccines that should be administered in a child`s development. So these smarter than the average doctor, virologist or public health official individual parents have supposedly thought this through and put off vaccinating their child against polio, and I suspect some other vicious diseases as well.

I maybe gobsmacked, but I am not speechless and in that vein:

An Open Letter to Parents in Seattle (you know who you are)


We haven't met but I feel the need to speak with you about this very strange, very risky strategy you've adopted where you don't vaccinate your child against polio because you have no plans to travel to anywhere where the polio virus is still a threat. I would have thought that a hip cool with-it city like Seattle would understand that when the World Health Organization says as long as one child has polio all children are at risk they really aren't kidding. They are talking basic science, globalization, the way people and diseases travel now: by plane at the speed of sound, undetected and pretty much everywhere. You don't have to take your unvaccinated kid to Afghanistan. Someone just needs to travel from Afghanistan carrying the virus and wham...your kid comes down with polio. Know anyone that's been to Afghanistan?

Polio used to have a much more frightening name....infantile paralysis. They called it that for a reason. The majority of the victims were infants. And those who got polio didn't have an easy ride. See children have relatively undeveloped immune systems anyway and polio is a pretty nasty virus. And the paralysis part is no picnic. If you are 'lucky' the paralysis just means a life of misshaped limbs, difficulty walking and a fair amount of pain. The less lucky die.

60 years ago, parents begged for a miracle, a vaccine that might mean their kids could be spared. But you think they were just fools, dupes of the medical establishment, ignoramuses who didn't understand how the world really works. Nothing like you, right?

So here's hoping your gamble with your kid's future works out. By the way, if it doesn't I wouldn't tell them you had a choice a chance to prevent them from coming down with polio. It might make for some very awkward silences, some extremely uncomfortable family dinners.

So you have a good day, you sleep soundly knowing you are doing everything you can to protect your children. Oh that's right, you aren't. Well sleep soundly anyway. P

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