Monday, August 8, 2011

No Shot in the Dark

A shot in the dark is basically some attempt to do something blindly. For some, this means picking lottery numbers, or dropping in your quarter in the gumball machine and hoping for a red one. Sadly, unfortunately and frighteningly, some people do this with their children. Parents who do not, or worse, refuse, to have their children immunized are doing just that. Shooting in the dark, hoping for the best, and risking the life of their own child.

There was paper published in a British medical journal 13 years ago that claimed a connection between vaccines and autism. That single, false claim has thankfully been routed out and it has been thoroughly established that NO link exists between the two, but somehow there are still some who manage to cough that one up when it comes to why they don’t vaccinate their most precious possessions.

Let’s be clear. Immunizations prevent disease and have completely eradicated others, savings millions of lives. Children, especially infants, who are the most susceptible to these diseases no longer die because of them. However, in cases where immunizations are not given, children do die and their numbers are growing. Diseases we thought had disappeared from the doctor’s office are now making regular appointments.

When I talk of emergency preparedness, it is not just talk of keeping enough water, or replenishing your first aid kits. This is preparedness at a very basic level. It’s preparing yourself from the inside. After a disaster hits, people seeking shelter often are forced in close quarters with a lot of other people. These are situations where people are anxious, possibly injured and their immune systems stressed -- situations where communicable diseases are easily transferred. And depending on the disaster, medical response may be a long way off when someone does fall ill. Now, what does this create? The perfect storm of disease transmission and those without immunizations will be the first to feel the brunt of it.

Immunizations are not horrible things. They are culture-less, race-blind, and without religious connotation or creed. They are given to those who need it most and it is up to all of us to make sure it happens. Rebel against something else if you feel you need to, but don’t let polio, rubella, measles and Type b influenzae be the thing that brings you down when your strength is needed most.

Be prepared. Get your shots and get shots for your kids. It just may be the thing that lets you – and your loved ones -- survive the disaster.

Please read Amanda Manscarelli’s thoughtful article from the Sunday, August 7, Los Angeles Times at:,0,4888541.story.

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