Opinion: Get vaccinated

By Jenn Watt

Published March 19 2019

The Haliburton Kawartha Lakes Pine Ridge District Health Unit is reminding the public of the importance of vaccinations after three linked cases of whooping cough surfaced in Northumberland County the southernmost area of the health unit’s region.

Vaccination rates are in the news lately following several outbreaks in Canada and a startling recurrence of vaccine-preventable diseases in wealthy countries such as measles outbreaks in Japan the U.S. and Vancouver.

Complacency and vaccine hesitancy are largely blamed for lowering vaccination rates as misinformation is circulated online to a generation that hasn’t endured widespread illness from measles polio or diphtheria.

It’s become so bad that the World Health Organization called vaccine hesitancy one of the top 10 threats to global health.

When a high percentage of the population is immunized it protects the broader community especially those who can’t get vaccinated due to age or health status. However when too many people choose not to vaccinate themselves or their children it creates the environment for diseases to make a comeback.

Whooping cough or pertussis is spread through the air when an infected person coughs or sneezes. Though anyone can get it it’s most serious for children younger than one and pregnant women.

Symptoms include a cough and runny nose which progresses into a frequent severe cough that can be followed with vomiting the health unit says. Although rare whooping cough can lead to death especially in children younger than one.

The family members infected with whooping cough in Northumberland County were either not vaccinated or had partial vaccinations.

There are plenty of mysteries out there not well researched or understood by the medical establishment but vaccinations are not among them. Today we benefit from the vaccines created decades ago and a population that rolled up their sleeves to inoculate themselves from potentially deadly viruses.

We have to continue that practice in order to live in a society where measles and whooping cough are rarities.

The Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care as well as the HKPR Health Unit have put considerable effort into providing answers to commonly asked questions on their websites based on scientific research and evidence.

We’re extremely lucky to be living in a time when so many diseases are preventable but we need to do our part to keep it that way.