I have written often, as has my friend Phil Plait, about the dangers the anti-vaccination movement has caused. Today on his blog, Phil has the sad story of how there have been more than 3 dozen cases of pertussis (whooping cough) in Boulder so far this year — 30 of those were under 18 years old — a remarkably high rate for a disease that’s supposed to have become very rare thanks to vaccines. The problem is the growing number of parents who don’t have their children vaccinated, which isn’t just a danger to them, but to everyone because it decreases herd immunity.
This outbreak might shock you, especially considering Boulder is one of the most educated cities in the United States.
But in fact, I’ve been wondering if and when something like this might
happen here. Denial of the benefits of vaccination is strong in educated
areas, like Boulder or Marin county, California — being educated
doesn’t mean you get things right, and in fact can make people believe
in their own knowledge even more strongly. They go online and find
antivax literature which magnifies their own beliefs.
Also, these tend to be more left-leaning areas, and the antivax movement does better there. The result? A little baby, not even two months old, is recovering from a nearly-fatal event that was totally preventable if enough people were vaccinated. Herd immunity would have prevented this whole thing.