121 cases of the measles
121 cases of the measles that included recovery
121 cases of the measles with no deaths reported
121 cases of the measles that sent our country into a tailspin.
I honestly thought the onslaught of measles articles would have subsided by now. But we’re going into month two of measles mania.
The news coverage hasn’t helped to change the subject nor to reduce the level of anxiety too many are experiencing. Instead of properly reporting on what’s usually a temporary illness, the press took what could have been a simple FYI (Measles has been spotted), to using full-on fear tactics (We’re all gonna die), to encouraging the public to turn on each other (Unvaccinated? Round ‘em up, Nazi-Germany style!).
Pre-measles mania, for the most part, we worked together. Sure we had differences with others and didn’t always see eye-to-eye on every issue, but we respected each other’s points of view. That included vaccine choice. But as the measles mania grew, and as the media and the government bodies that oversee and benefit from the US vaccine program took every chance they could to paint a pretty picture about vaccines, those choosing not to vaccinate quickly became the enemy.
In early December, before the measles was a daily headline, the majority of the public wasn’t vocal that some folks were unvaccinated. Yes, pro-vaccine groups took it upon themselves to viciously attack parents in the past when vaccine stories occasionally surfaced, but the public didn’t. The public didn’t fear the unvaccinated kid next door. They didn’t fear their niece who was up-to-date on shots. They didn’t know if their boss or co-worker, or that stranger in line ahead of them at the grocery store was unvaccinated. They wouldn’t even think to ask the city bus driver if he’d gotten boosters at his physical last year or not either. But now? Oh, boy. Everyone’s a suspect. And the public has been groomed to respond with venom to anyone stating that they are a vaccine choice proponent.
To vaccinate or to not vaccinate is a private decision. That decision is usually based on an individual’s health care needs, not on illogical fear. Sadly, since the latest measles mania began, fear is overriding logic. And it’s fueling an unnecessary and an unfortunate divide. In two short months, it’s become okay to shame someone who does not vaccinate. It’s okay to bully them, to belittle them, and to be ready to turn them in.
Forced vaccinations, despite being contradictory to one’s health and medical issues, are also being discussed, debated and encouraged. To force an unnecessary medical procedure on someone is wrong. It goes against one of the principles that our country was founded – individual liberty. But God help us. I fear that that liberty and the freedom to make our own health care choices, are dangerously close to being taken away.
Cathy Jameson is a Contributing Editor of Age of Autism.