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EDITORIAL: Immunization like a seatbelt

Alberni Valley Times - 5/2/2024

Happy National Immunization Awareness Week!

Obviously, this isn't the kind of holiday where you get your loved one presents or hunt for colourful eggs. But it's a pretty important observance, given that we've just come through the most serious pandemic in a century.

The fact that we can say we've come through the COVID-19 pandemic, instead of being still in the throes of it, is thanks to an incredibly rapid production and distribution of new vaccines.

Without vaccines, periods of isolation and social distancing would be far longer, and the ultimate death toll would have been far higher. COVID remains a risk, but that risk has been mitigated for many thanks to immunization.

But even as we've seen a massive leap in immunization technology, fewer people trust vaccines than ever before.

This has led to some peculiar and alarming results, including fewer people vaccinating their pets against rabies, a fatal, painful, and entirely preventable disease.

A disturbing 2023 survey by a U.S. School of Public Health researcher found that 37 per cent of dog owners were afraid that a vaccine could give their pets autism.

This is so absurd on so many levels that it's hard to know where to start, except to say that vaccines – in humans or dogs – do not cause autism. The fraudulent study making that claim has long since been debunked and refuted.

Lack of trust in vaccines has come with a lack of trust in many other public institutions.

But we have to trust one another. We have to live together, and part of that means trusting our neighbours, our doctors, and often, yes, our politicians and bureaucrats.

Who should you talk to about vaccines?

How about your doctor, nurse practitioner, or a public health nurse? If you can't talk to a health-care professional in person or by phone, consider looking up actual scientific data and studies by going directly to sources like the Mayo Clinic.

And if you're worried about immunizations for yourself or your family, talk to your neighbours and friends. Do it in person.

Immunization is like wearing a seatbelt. You hope you won't need it, but if you do, you'll be glad you made use of it.

Black Press