Odd Thoughts: Herd gets into fight with malaria

Bad news for anti-vaxxers.

A British vaccine for malaria has received approval in Europe.

The World Health Organization is checking it out, with distribution to malaria-infested regions expected to begin in 2017.

The whole thing flies directly in the face of anti-vaxxers’ quest to protect the rights of deadly diseases to run roughshod over humanity.

If the malaria vaccine is half as effective as its predecessors which wiped out smallpox and has come close to doing the same for polio, it could save hundreds of thousands of lives – mostly children – every year.

It will be a public relations nightmare for those who have dedicated their children’s lives to the re-establishment of deadly diseases in places where they were once considered eradicated.

Measles, mumps, and other child killers are making a comeback in places like North America, thanks to the “educated” ignorance engendered by the anti-vaccination movement.

Yet another successful vaccination program in the news could prove to be a major setback for anti-vaxxer charlatans and their sheep.

Canada is among the developed countries (read: “countries where people ought to know better”) that have been cited by the United Nations for allowing their vaccination rates to fall below levels required to maintain “herd immunity” against some diseases.

Herd immunity is a phenomenon that arises from vaccinating enough members of a community to make it difficult for a disease to get a solid foothold.

Vaccination rates needed to breach the herd immunity threshold vary for different diseases. For instance, for measles – the illness that brought the herd immunity phenomenon to light around 1930 – it takes about 90 to 95 per cent of a population to achieve immunity, either by exposure or vaccination, to protect the rest of the “herd.”

Since measles still kills a few hundred thousand children each year in places where exposure is the only way to gain immunity, vaccination seems the sensible way to go – for most folks.

There will always be a handful of people who, for medical or other reasons, cannot be vaccinated. Herd immunity extends a protective umbrella over those people, and also offers some protection to newcomers in the community.

Herd immunity even serves as a bulwark against a disease that could be brought into the community by one of those newcomers.

However, herd immunity tends to fail in a population of people who are too stupid to get themselves or their children vaccinated.

Polls indicate that in B.C. and Alberta, clearly the smarter end of the country, a solid majority of residents believe vaccinations for certain diseases should be mandatory.

The states of Washington and California both require vaccination certificates for kids to attend public schools.

In Australia, where people apparently understand that preventing communicable diseases is not really a personal choice, they have legislation dubbed “no jab, no pay.” You can choose to put your children (and others’) at risk by refusing vaccinations — but any child support payments from the state are cut off.

Heck, Australia even immunizes its mosquitoes.

A program is afoot to vaccinate mosquitoes against malaria, so they can’t pass the bug on to people.

Yes, moms and dads feel sorry for their kids who often cry when they get their vaccination shots. But sickness makes the kids cry louder and longer.

Of course, dying shuts them up altogether.

 

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