Thanks to religious anti-vaccination propaganda, Polio is on the increase:
Nearly two years after radical Islamic preachers told parents to refuse to have their children vaccinated against polio for fear it was part of a U.S. plot against Muslims, the repercussions are still being felt: A Nigerian strain of the virus that causes the crippling disease has cropped up as far away as Indonesia.
In this case it is Islamic preachers who have been causing the problems. We shouldn’t feel too smug though: the West has its own anti-vaxers who also rely on ignorance to oppose such proven solutions. These range from quacks such as Naturopaths to celebrity idiots like Bill Maher. Whatever its source, it results in unnecessary suffering. Polio is a horrible crippling disease that has been eliminated in the Western world.
The same old fallacies are being employed, including:
I do not agree that we exported polio to any country. If these countries were carrying out vaccinations ... they should not have had any cases.
Wrong. Vaccination is not always 100% effective; it relies on what is known as “herd immunity”. That is, if a sufficiently large proportion of the population is immune through vaccination, few people will get the disease because it can't gain a foothold. However, there will always be people who cannot be vaccinated or for whom vaccines will be ineffective, for example people who are:
- Receiving immunosuppressive treatment, perhaps for cancer
- Allergic to the vaccine
- Too young to be vaccinated
- Unable to mount an immune response to the vaccine
- Inflicted with immunosuppressive diseases like AIDS.
These people need the herd immunity, it is their only protection. A small number of healthy people can freeload in this group also. But once more than a few start doing it, the whole thing breaks down. The lack of vaccination in Nigeria allowed the disease to gain hold and it spread to other countries where the disease had been eradicated, and presumably they had ceased full vaccination:
Fifteen other countries where polio had been eradicated have been re-infected from Nigeria since 2003, when northern Islamic leaders led a vaccine boycott.
All thanks to anti-vaccination propaganda. Good job.