The other day Orac at Respectful Insolence wrote about yet another case where failure to vaccinate has caused a resurgence, in this case of measles in New Zealand.
Otherwise preventable and potentially fatal diseases are popping up in communities around the world as the importance of immunization is ignored by a generation of parents who never knew these diseases.
Well, looks as though they’re beginning to find out.
I’m keeping my eye on a similar case brought to my attention by my Twitter feeds from Colorado (if I can’t be there, I’ll at least read about it). This report from the Colorado Springs Gazette tells us that the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are currently investigating a burst of 101 confirmed cases of pertussis (whooping cough) in Durango, CO, and surrounding areas in La Plata country and the greater Four Corners region.
(Please note that while the colloquial abbreviation for the organization is CDC, prevention (by vaccination in this case) is a key component of disease control. However, CDCP doesn’t quite roll off the tongue the same way.)
Back in January the Durango Herald News ran a story about a pertussis vaccination program in the area; I love the logical invocation of the unwritten Code of the West:
Getting vaccinated is not only sensible in terms of personal health, it is the socially responsible thing to do. It is essentially a civic duty, not unlike how trimming flammable brush protects the neighbors’ homes from fire as well.
Parents who are unsure should check their children’s immunization status. Adults, too, can check with their doctors to ensure that they have had a pertussis shot.
For anyone who needs one, San Juan Basin Health Department will hold a pertussis vaccination clinic from 5 to 7 p.m. Thursday at its office at 281 Sawyer Drive in Bodo Park. A donation of $14.70 is requested, but no one will be turned away for lack of money.
The latter point I have put in boldface is key: while we at ScienceBlogs often criticize parents, largely of comfortable means, for their anti-vaccination stances, a large swath of vaccination failures in the US is a result of an inability to pay for or access to vaccines.
Time will tell whether the latest outbreak of pertussis in the Four Corners is associated with vaccination failures.