When my children were younger, they loved watching Disney movies. Among their favorites was “Aladdin”. My kids can still recite the movie script almost word for word. Everyone’s favorite character is the Genie, of course, and when he comes out of the bottle all sorts of things happen, eventually for the good. I wish I could say the same for the genie whose lamp our society is rubbing now.
In recent posts here and here, I have described the dangers of letting our public health guard down in the area of immunizations. Recent developments here in Arizona have brought out the problems associated with lapses in immunization rates. A school in the city of Gilbert had to ban 19 kids from attending school because of a case of mumps. The children were withheld from school because they hadn’t been vaccinated. Pertussis in Arizona’s most populous county has risen 132% since 2009, rising to levels not seen since the last pertussis epidemic in 2005.
Now, I understand the ethical tightrope that medical and public health officials have to walk in regards to requiring immunizations. I get that folks have personal autonomy to vaccinate themselves and even their kids. However, (to reiterate a point made on this blog a few days ago), we get to make decisions, but we often don’t get to choose the consequences that follow those decisions.
We can temp fate or the gods or chance as we roll the dice or even rub the lamp, but this time it won’t be a big, blue, loveable guy with Robin Williams-like wit. The genie will be in the form of an encephalitic 3 year old, an apneic 1 month old, or a sterile 23 year old.