Rude awakenings, it was once believed, were reserved for other states in our nation. Now we know from recent events that the one exceptional state, Oregon, is no longer of privileged status as was true in former years. Our former governor has taken a dive for a girlfriend and it turns out that he may have had a lot of state administrators helping him, those apparently willing to be bossed around by the former governor’s fiancee.
But the most threatening among the changes that have come to Oregon of late is that which decries vaccinations and the immunizations against disease that are afforded by them. In the West, specifically western Europe, experimentation with ways to control disease date back to the 1700s when successful means were found to rid the population of smallpox. Other efforts followed and enabled people and their children to avoid diseases that promised certain death in years past.
The means to control polio came to be in my lifetime. It was a truly dreaded malady that took away a victim’s ability to breathe outside an “iron lung” and other forms of paralysis that deprived those so contracted with not being able to carry on with lives resembling normality. Jonas Salk was recognized as a hero throughout the nation and that meant a lot of grateful Oregonians, too. I remember well how I hoped for years I would not get polio and then escaped that worry after receiving my dose of prevention.
But what matter of madness do we endure now? People who will not permit vaccinations against serious, death-threatening diseases for their children, themselves and the entire population. What has caused so many among us to ignore the consequences of dangerous, terminating illnesses? Frankly, I have no answer to my nagging question. I can guess at the reasons but suggest that the greatest, the most compelling reason for vaccinations has to do with humanity: the foundation for perpetuating a civilized world, one where the very survival of humans is at stake.
As a child I heard none of the bizarre screams and yells directed at enlightened medical doctors and Oregon leaders whose laws that bring health protections to all persons living in this state. Those against it must hail from times long past where ignorance ruled and science was yet unknown.
Meanwhile, way beyond disappointment is what’s felt about those caved Oregon legislators who surrendered their integrity to the wanton few who came to Salem to protest what could have been public health protections through required vaccinations. It’s not understood what these representatives see as their job when they turn their backs on public safety for the majority to practice cowardice in response to the few misguided among us.
One TV host has suggested that we not acquire our health information from talk show hosts, radio nutcases or “Google University.” Rather, he went on to say, look to medical graduates who attended medical schools with accreditation. Then there’s the very wise quip about those who forget history being destined to repeat it and the wise doctor who asks whether you remember the time you got polio: “Of course you don’t, because your grandparents got your parents vaccinated who in turn got you vaccinated.” But this kind of logic is unfortunately too obscure for those among us who prefer darkness over light.
Incidentally, it would have to be a rather brainless God to discourage people from inventing and using vaccinations. If God weren’t smart, don’t you see, he’d not have created a humankind that could save itself. After all, he had already made a huge mistake with the dinosaurs.
(Gene H. McIntyre’s columns appears weekly in the Keizertimes.)