Ignorance can be as deadly as any virus

One-hundred years ago, a 45-year-old Irish native named Mary Mallon was put into lifetime confinement by health officials in New York City.

They had been on her trail for a few years before they found her again, attempting to escape authorities just wanting to live her life as a cook for families or large groups.

The problem is, authorities some 10 years earlier realized some people died after Mallon fed them. They knew why. They told her to stop. She would not. People she cooked for continued to die until authorities caught her and put her in an isolated bungalow until she died 23 years later. It was a horrible fate, to live alone for nearly a quarter century. But health officials decided for the common good, she needed to be isolated if she would not heed their warnings to stop cooking for people. Large groups of people. Some of whom later died because of it.

One-hundred years later, it has taken a measles outbreak to expose people sometimes referred to as “anti-vaxxers” as possibly well-meaning, but wrong. Dead wrong.

A lot of this started when former Playboy centerfold Jenny McCarthy used a relatively obscure study to promote the possibility of a connection between certain childhood vaccines and autism. The author of that study has since been thrown out of the medical profession and his study patently debunked by the rest of the world’s medical authorities.

But McCarthy continues to use her bombshell platform to spout this dung, convincing hordes of new parents not to vaccinate their children lest they become autistic or suffer other maladies. Now, God knows how many kids are going to school without being vaccinated against childhood diseases such as measles that had been under control for decades.

And we have outbreaks. And there will be outbreaks of other diseases we had under control if this continues.

I called an old friend who certainly had misfortune from a flu shot, maybe. By his own recollection, former Chief Judge Herman Haase said it could have been a flu shot that resulted in him becoming paralyzed from the neck down nine days later in 1998. Or, it could have been a certain bacteria from under-cooked chicken to which he was particularly, and horribly, susceptible.

“I would rather have gotten the flu than what happened to me,” said Haase, who went through years of physical therapy after suffering a rare form of Guillain-Barre syndrome. Seventeen years later, he still puts leg braces on every morning. But he drives, works and even does some woodworking, even though he lost the more fine motor skills in his hands.

Being an attorney and not a medical professional, Haase said he doesn’t give medical advice. He does tell people what happened to him may have been caused by a flu shot. Obviously, he doesn’t get a flu shot anymore. Considering this year’s batch targeted the wrong strains anyway, he doesn’t feel like he’s missed anything.

And at nearly 73, he doesn’t have young kids, but if he did, Haase said, he has no doubt what he’d do:

“I would make sure they got all their inoculations,” he said.

There are side-effects with all medications, just listen to TV commercials. Sometimes, they can be fatal. Sometimes, they may hurt more than help. When that happens to a significant number of people, the federal government will pull the plug.

Taking these medications are personal choices and, hopefully, with the advice of their doctors. If they don’t take them, in most cases, the only people they are hurting are themselves.

Likewise, some people may have bad reactions to vaccinations. They could become permanently disabled or even die. But to advocate there is a strong correlation when the medical documentation isn’t there not only hurts the children parents are trying to protect, but potentially everyone else around them. Worldwide.

I used to think Jenny McCarthy was pretty and funny. Now I think she’s just dangerous, leading a movement that puts millions at risk based on a debunked study. Maybe McCarthy should be restrained somehow, as was “Typhoid Mary” Mallon, both basically for spreading crap. I’m for free speech, but not for yelling “fire” in a crowded theater. Not when millions of lives could be at stake. Meanwhile, Jenny, shut up.

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