Prior to 1950, the polio virus was one of the most feared childhood diseases, in severe cases causing paralysis. Anybody could contract it, even the president. Fortunately, after the advent of the polio vaccine, infection in North America became a thing of the past. It’s a great example of the power of vaccines and how herd immunity works.
But just because people aren’t getting sick anymore doesn’t mean the virus has been completely eradicated or that vaccination isn’t necessary. In fact, if you’re unvaccinated and travel to a country where polio still infects residents, you could contract it — and possibly even spread it here.
Unfortunately, we are seeing now what can happen when vaccine levels are not maintained. We are in the midst of a serious flu season, and we have experienced several outbreaks of mumps across our state. Our state is not a high achiever in vaccination rates; myths that vaccines can cause autism definitely contribute to decreasing vaccination levels. These allegations have been debunked as deliberately falsified, and there is no evidence linking vaccines to autism.
We are concerned these myths could be gaining traction. I hope you will join us in working to ensure your communities and your staff understand the importance of vaccines for all our health. Efforts to undermine vaccination efforts and ignore empirical scientific evidence could have drastic consequences for public health. WSHA will continue to advocate that everyone in the community get vaccinated to protect themselves and to protect the people around them.
WSHA President & CEO