Sunday, May 13, 2012

Blue State Ignorance Fuels Pertussis Outbreak?

The New York Times blames state budget cuts for a relentless outbreak of whooping cough (Pertussis), but a closer examination reveals that anti-science sentiments of the left wing fringe are a conspicuous part of the problem:
...Washington State tapped into emergency funds to help get a whooping cough outbreak under control.

A fairly high number of parents in the state have been exempt from having their children vaccinated, according to Reuters, and a spokesman for the state Health Department said that could be a contributing factor...
I can understand why the state Health Department would be coy, but high exemption rates are a recipe for disaster:
Ms. Selecky said immunizations were meant to protect not only individuals but also the broader population: the so-called herd immunity threshold. If a large enough segment of the population is unprotected from a disease — generally considered 5 percent to 15 percent, depending on the disease — even people with some degree of immunity through vaccination can have an elevated risk, she said.

...Washington’s vaccination exemption rate was more than 6 percent.
Why is the exemption rate so high? Along with other unsubstantiated concerns, parents fret about autism:
And a 2011 study, also by CDC, found that nearly 80 percent of parents surveyed felt uncomfortable about getting their children immunized for a variety of reasons, including the fear of the shot, concerns over safety of vaccines and the number of vaccines their children receive and worry that vaccination may be linked to autism.
Paranoia-fueled worries about links between vaccination and autism have been thoroughly debunked. However, among liberals, fashionable ignorance about the safety of childhood vaccination persists. So it probably should come as no surprise that the pertussis epidemic is hitting liberal states hard:
Vermont, Washington and Oregon all have high exemption rates, and all three states had had outbreaks of whooping cough.
California is also suffering from high rates of infection.

This won't serve as definitive proof of a link between left wing ignorance and the pertussis epidemic, but the circumstantial evidence is pretty damning.

More at Memeorandum.

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