In the late 1940s and early1950s, families had two big worries. One was of a third world war with the horrible new weapon, the atomic bomb. The second was that children would get polio. Polio was on the rise. Every summer a new epidemic claimed more victims than the last. Polio crippled kids. Imagine worrying that your child would end up in a wheel chair, or with permanent need for crutches and leg braces. Too many times, polio killed.
Then in 1955, a research team headed by a Dr. Jonas Salk perfected a polio vaccine. A huge immunization effort mobilized. Dr. Salk was hailed as a national hero; everyone saw his picture and knew his name. In a few years, polio and the mass fear it caused were all but gone.
Before 1990, vaccines were universally seen as a good thing. They prevented diseases that had cursed mankind for centuries. Everyone wanted their kids vaccinated against these ancient killers: tetanus, measles, pertussis, diphtheria, smallpox, polio. They weren’t often nice deaths either: tetanus, pertussis, and diphtheria kill by suffocating the child.
Then in 1990, researchers had the last big breakthrough in vaccines- vaccinating against killer bacteria. The last of the really bad actors, Haemophilus Influenzae, Pneumococcus, and Meningococcus, began to disappear. Ancient fears disappeared. Generations since have forgotten how in 1900, one out of every ten babies died before they got to their first birthday.
People since have begun to ask: why are we putting these chemicals into our children’s bodies? Why are they enduring these painful shots? No one seems to be dying around us. Now people are starting to refuse to get their children vaccinated. 1990 is also when the Internet began to rise. The Internet is great for spreading information, but it is also great for spreading ignorance. Search for vaccinations on the net, and you will get lots of sites on how immunizations are somehow poisonous to your child.
My message is simple: don’t get complacent about the good vaccines do. No one seems to be dying of these contagious diseases because of vaccines. Vaccines are safe. Vaccines work even when they are all taken at once. If you want more information on vaccines, go to the experts: the American Academy of Pediatrics.
And get your children their shots.