Letters to the Editor

Pertussis outbreak makes vaccination issues clearer | Letter to the Editor

The recent outbreak of whooping cough on Vashon showcased just how fast communicable diseases can spread and refuels the debate about low vaccination rates in the community.

On Vashon we have the privilege to engage in a hearty discussion about the costs and benefits of childhood vaccinations. Some choose not to vaccinate because the likelihood that their child will become infected with a disease like measles or whooping cough is limited (though still possible). They reason that even if one becomes infected, they will have access to life-saving medical care. Rarely does anyone worry about children dying due to vaccine-preventable deaths.

But vaccinations are a privilege that does not extend to every child across the world. For many children, access to vaccinations can be the difference between a healthy life and death. This year, 1.7 million children worldwide will die from a vaccine- preventable disease. That is one child every 20 seconds. For millions more, early childhood sicknesses from vaccine-preventable diseases will cause lifelong health problems. These children need vaccines to give them the best shot at a healthy and productive life. Many do not have the money for these vaccinations, or access to the medical care necessary to get life-saving treatment if they fall ill with the measles or pneumonia.

While we debate the pros and cons of vaccinating children, let’s remember that vaccines are one of the most cost-effective ways to save the lives of children in developing countries. For just $20, you can vaccinate a child against measles, pneumonia, diarrhea and polio.

Even if you do not want to vaccinate your children, please support the use of vaccines in the developing world. Contact me at rosetta.avoliotoly@gmail.com or go to Shot@Life.org to learn more about childhood vaccination or to donate — because every child deserves a shot at life.


— Rosie Avolio-Toly


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