The outbreak of measles in places like Washington State reminds everyone: most of those children still haven’t gotten the vaccine. Vaccines protect you from mumps, flu, pneumonia, meningitis, chicken pox, polio, HPV cancers and other diseases. When the first vaccine was introduced, it led to the complete eradication of smallpox.
Though public health officials campaign for the universal use of vaccinations, anti-vaccination parents hesitate. Researchers at Dartmouth College found it’s not only because they are concerned about the side effects, but also because they worry that vaccines don’t provide complete protection. When a few people aren’t protected, the disease can spread more easily – at school, at home, or any place you go with lots of people. The whole community becomes more vulnerable.
The surprise: even once these concerns are addressed, changing people’s behavior lags behind and vaccination rates take a long time to recover.
Parents, of course, think they are protecting their children, but real protection lies in vaccinations. It doesn’t hurt when kids get a lollipop, either.