Confessions of a Quackbuster

This blog deals with healthcare consumer protection, and is therefore about quackery, healthfraud, chiropractic, and other forms of so-Called "Alternative" Medicine (sCAM).

Saturday, May 28, 2005

Stopping a contagion

Toronto Star
May 27, 2005. 01:00 AM

Editorial: Stopping a contagion

Public health officials battling a rubella outbreak in southern Ontario are doing the right thing by keeping children who have not been immunized out of school in areas at risk of the virus.

While it is unfortunate that some children feel stigmatized, public safety must come ahead of youthful sensitivities and the anti-immunization views of parents.

Some object to vaccination on religious grounds; others may have exaggerated worries about the risks posed by these shots, ignoring scientific evidence showing that going without immunization is more dangerous than receiving the needle.

This isn't just an academic debate. Lives are at risk when immunization is neglected. Rubella, in particular, is a threat to unborn children.

A vaccination exists to stop this virus in its tracks, yet a rubella outbreak in southwestern Ontario has infected well over 150 unimmunized children and put several pregnant women and their babies at risk.

Recently in Copetown, near Hamilton, health officials took action when a teacher appeared to have the virus. Thirty-five unvaccinated students were sent home with notes advising parents that they would not be allowed back until they could prove they had immunity against rubella or until the incubation period of the virus had passed without a fresh case. That means, if all goes well, they could return early next month.

If these children, and others in southwest Ontario, had been immunized, there would be no outbreak, no one would have missed school and no baby would be at risk of devastating birth defects. Unfortunately, some parents put other considerations ahead of public safety.

In view of that attitude, health officials must remain vigilant and be ready to crack down hard as soon as danger presents itself.