Visualizing herd immunity

The parents who refuse to vaccinate their children are taking a calculated risk; they're weighting whatever doubts they have about the efficacy of vacItcines against their doubts about vaccine safety and their doubts about the seriousness of infectious diseases, basically betting that either vaccines don't work and/or vaccines aren't safe and/or the diseases just aren't that big a deal. Read the rest

Unvaccinated high school student is suing the health department for banning him from school during a chicken pox outbreak

An 18-year-old high school senior is suing the Northern Kentucky Health Department for banning him from school and sports during a chicken pox outbreak. He refuses to get vaccinated because of his "Christian faith," so the Health Department refuses to let him attend school or play sports.

"The fact that I can't finish my senior year in basketball, like, our last couple of games, it's pretty devastating. I mean, you go through four years of high school playing basketball, you look forward to your senior year," the student, Jerome Kunkel, told WLWT5.

According to NBC:

The health department announced the policy Feb. 21 in a letter to parents, citing an outbreak of chickenpox at the school.

It first warned parents of the outbreak Feb. 5, urging them to get their children vaccinated. By March 14, the school had 32 cases of confirmed chickenpox, according to the health department.

"The recent actions taken by the Northern Kentucky Health Department regarding the chickenpox outbreak at Our Lady of the Sacred Heart/Assumption Academy was in direct response to a public health threat and was an appropriate and necessary response to prevent further spread of this contagious illness," the health department said in a statement in response to Kunkel's lawsuit.

Chicken pox is an airborne virus that can also be contracted through physical contact. Although most people get through the illness without any lasting effects, it can be devastating to pregnant women, babies, and people with weakened immune systems.

Image: by F malan - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=9575488 Read the rest

When teen defies anti-vax parents and gets shots, his mom says it's a "slap in the face"

A teen's Reddit post went viral when he asked the public how he could get vaccinated. "My parents are kind of stupid and don't believe in vaccines. Now that I'm 18, where do I go to get vaccinated? Can I get vaccinated at my age?"

The Ohio high school student, Ethan Lindenberger, says he had just gotten his driver's license and a car, and had some money, and was ready to defy his parents. "It's stupid and I've had countless arguments over the topic. But, because of their beliefs I've never been vaccinated for anything, god knows how I'm still alive."

A month after his post, he started getting shots, including "hepatitis A, hepatitis B, influenza and HPV," according to The Huffington Post. His mother reacted by telling undark.org that his actions were like a "slap in the face...It was like him spitting on me.”

Lindenberger has six siblings, and only his oldest sister and brother were vaccinated. After that, his parents thought that "vaccines are some kind of government scheme," according to Ethan, who spoke out on Good Morning America today.

Seven states now allow minors to petition so that they can make their own decision when it comes to vaccinations. But in the states where kids don't have a choice, some teens are coming to Ethan for advice. Read the rest

Measles strike the unvaccinated in Washington

Unvaccinated children exposed to the measles are catching and spreading the highly contagious disease in Washington's Clark County, JUST LIKE YOU WOULD EXPECT.

The Oregonian:

A measles outbreak in southwestern Washington state has grown to 16 confirmed cases, and most of the children affected are unimmunized against the disease, officials said Thursday.

A Clark County Public Health release says officials have been tracking the outbreak since Jan. 1. Of the 16 confirmed cases, 13 of the cases are children under the age of 11, officials say.

Only two of the children have an unverified immunization status; the other 14 are unimmunized, officials say.

Clark County has one of the lowest vaccination rates in the state, with more than 22 percent of public school students having not completed their vaccinations, The Oregonian reports, citing state records.

Contagious patients have visited schools and medical facilities, as well as the Portland International Airport and retailers including the Northeast Portland Costco and Ikea stores.

Officials say the disease is highly contagious and can cause fever, cough, runny nose, red eyes and rash.

"Measles can be dangerous, especially for babies and young children. In rare cases, it can be deadly," a Washington State Department of Health fact sheet says.

Read the rest

Watch Penn and Teller's anti-anti-vaccine rant

Penn and Teller's classic takedown of anti-vax bullshittery. And if you don't know, now you know.

Read the rest

Woo with a body-count: measles epidemic follows anti-vax scare

Wales is in the grip of a measles epidemic, thanks to the anti-vaccine scare more than a decade ago. Once the critical mass of herd immunity dropped below a certain threshold, in came the old, deadly -- and utterly preventable -- disease. Read the rest