(Note: My wife vetoed my initial headline: Failing New York Times Op-Ed Full of Fake Vaccine News. She claims that my sense of humor does not translate to all.)
The lead New York Times (NYT) editorial today is titled, “Know The Enemy.” According to the NYT, the “enemy” is anyone who questions the safety and efficacy of any vaccine.
I guess that makes me the enemy. I thought I was a board-certified physician trying to read and decipher the research on vaccines to help guide my patients on how to make their best health care decisions.
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The NYT states, “Leading global health threats typically are caused by the plagues and perils of low-income countries — but vaccine hesitancy is as American as can be.” Both parts of that sentence are correct.
In the early 20th Century, infection was the number one killer of Americans and it killed a high percentage of our youth. However, by the 1950’s infection rates for nearly every childhood vaccine- preventable illness (as well as other infectious illnesses like scarlet fever) had drastically declined—BEFORE vaccines were developed and mandated. In fact, for the major vaccine-preventable illnesses such as measles, mumps, diphtheria, and pertussis, the death rate declined well over 90% BEFORE vaccines were mandated. How did that occur? The death rate from infectious diseases declined not by vaccination, but by public health measures. This includes providing clean water to our houses and safely removing waste products.
Did vaccines lower the death rate for their respective illnesses? We don’t know since the rates were already declining dramatically before the mass vaccination…