The “Disneyland Measles Outbreak of 2014/15” has scourged the United States with over 100 infections in 14 states and counting. After years of hysterical bullying by the anti-vaxxer crowd, sensible people are beginning to take notice and speak out. A long overdue backlash is taking place, and for once, en masse. Slate republished a piece arguing that parents who don’t vaccinate should be sued, Wired reissued a great 2009 longform defending anti-vaxx super villain Paul Offit. The mainstream media is giving print space to scientists and health advocates, and, hell, even our politicians are staking a reasonable claim in the debate.
This heaping of shame onto those who would put the health of our children at risk is more effective than anything we’ve seen yet in the vaccination wars. Those shrill voices, usually impossible to drown out and ever-present on your Facebook news feed, seem to have been tempered to incomprehensible murmurs of outrage limited to the darkest recesses of anti-vaxx forums at mothering.com and the vactruth.com Facebook page. Right now, anti-vaxxers are cornered.
“No, something else needs to be said. Something more dramatic and truthful: Anti-vaxxers are agents of bioterrorism.
It’s tempting to believe we’ve reached a tipping point. We’d be wrong. Within a month or so most of these cases will have gone away. The victims will heal. And I guarantee that soon thereafter, those ugly murmurs will grow louder and more pronounced. Just like after Newtown, the victims will be forgotten and sensible voices drowned out by those who would put their freedom to harm others above all social good.
No, something else needs to be said. Something more dramatic and truthful: Anti-vaxxers are agents of bioterrorism.
Imagine for a moment that a hostile foreign agent–an Al Qaeda, a North Korea–deployed agents to a major United States attraction, say Disneyland, infected with a highly contagious disease boasting a 90% transmission rate. Anybody seated next to them or sharing a bathroom with them or breathing air in the same room as them risked symptoms ranging from fever to conjunctivitis to brain swelling and deafness. Each infected agent could easily infect 12 to 18 others just by existing in the same space. Each new infection could spread to another 12 to 18 people. And let’s say this disease kills 145,000 people per year worldwide, and said foreign agent knowingly put our nation’s citizens at risk by exposing them to this disease.
This would be seen as an attack on the United States of America. Straight up bioterrorism. Open and shut case. Hearings would be held. Votes would be taken. Action initiated.
What happened last December at Disneyland was a case of bioterrorism. It wasn’t initiated by a hostile foreign government (though the CDC does seem to believe that a foreign national may have come into the country infected with measles). No, this was bioterrorism cultivated and launched by a group of Americans with an agenda of ignorant rebellion and unreasonable paranoia. American citizens who will risk the lives and well-being of their own children to prove a point–everybody else is just collateral damage. And what point is that? That vaccines cause autism? That’s been debunked over and over again. The point is that they’re going to do what they want, all else be damned. These parents knowingly place their unvaccinated children in public spaces fully aware that they could become infected (or, worse, could already be infected–measles can go undetected for up to two weeks) with the world’s most contagious diseases and then spread those diseases to others too young, sick, or ignorant to be vaccinated. The California Department of Public Health was able to attain vaccination status of 59 of those infected so far; 38 (64%) were not vaccinated.
The time has passed for gentle correction and rolled eyes at psychopathic hyperbole from those who would simply discard decades of scientific progress so that they can prove a point. Where we’re at now is a good start, but it is clear: No amount of reason or tragedy will change these minds. We will never squash this public menace without calling it for what it is.
Bioterrorism doesn’t have to kill. Ebola, anthrax, and smallpox all have relatively low mortality rates depending on the type and how quickly infection is detected. Bioterrorism simply aims to terrorize with the use of biological weapons such as disease.
I think it’s safe to say we all feel terrorized.
So to all of my liberal friends who have no problem naming the intentional infection of Native American populations biowarfare, or calling abortion clinic bombers terrorists; to my conservative friends who fret about global jihad, and gladly name wars on Christmas, marriage, and Judeo-Christian values; to all of you: Let’s not be afraid to call a spade a spade.
Anti-vaxxers are bioterrorists and this is germ warfare.