For example: the current news trend of a measles epidemic sweeping the United States. After decades of effective vaccination efforts to reduce the risk of a highly contagious - and lethal-to-kids - illness, we're getting hit with a major outbreak. While 102 current cases of measles doesn't sound like much, when you consider that's in one month so far where previous annual counts were half that... we're looking at 2015 as a year with measles reaching thousands of victims.
|from that Forbes link. Morbidity means infectiousness (Mortality is when it's deadly)|
So into this come the anti-vaccination movement - an oddly bipartisan collection of concerned parents, uninformed media celebrities and a handful of quacks - defending their arguments as the nation faces a serious preventable epidemic. And because this is all news, this topic gets into the political discussions as the cable channels and politicians weigh in.
Where the major Democratic leaders - Obama, Hillary Clinton - are weighing in firmly on the matter to vaccinate, the Republicans are a bit divided. Ben Carson, an actual physician, went in pro-vaccination, as did Jeb Bush. Presidential hopefuls Chris Christie and Rand Paul, however, both went for the "let's make it voluntary" waffling, with Paul jumping out with dire "tragedies" about vaccines before walking those comments back.
What's worse for the Republicans have been how some of the fear-mongering members of the party jumped in with a horrifying accusation that the measles epidemic is due to illegal immigrants. Say hello to Alabama's Mo Brooks, who's been documented as an immigration denier before this, using the measles outbreak as another reason to go hating again.
And then there's Rush Limbaugh. Ah, Rush, ill-informed blowhard that you are, let us have Politifact trout-slap you for your sins:
...The common thread in these statements is the idea that these children were never examined, that they had measles, and Washington took no precautions before allowing them to stay.
None of that holds up, however.
In fiscal year 2014, over 68,000 unaccompanied minors presented themselves at the border. The crisis spurred a flurry of activity, largely by two government agencies, the departments of Homeland Security and Health and Human Services. Homeland Security set up new processing centers and HHS’s Office of Refugee Resettlement looked after the children until their fates were resolved.
Contrary to Limbaugh’s assertion, the federal government did examine these kids. The protocol, according to the Office of Refugee Resettlement, was to provide "vaccinations to all children who do not have documentation of previous valid doses of vaccine."
Limbaugh also claimed that these children were never quarantined if they had a disease. The reverse is true.
"Children receive additional, more thorough medical screening and vaccinations at ORR shelter facilities," according to the refugee resettlement Web page. "If children are found to have certain communicable diseases, they are separated from other children and treated as needed..."
...Further undermining Limbaugh’s case (we reached out to his show and did not hear back) are the vaccination rates for the key countries involved in the influx of unaccompanied minors -- El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Mexico.
The latest data from the World Health Organization runs through 2013. As this table shows, over the past four years, the vaccination rates among those countries are on par or exceed the rate in the United States...
What is really happening here: the fear-mongers in the media and in Congress are using a current news trend to attack their preferred targets - immigrants, Obama, libruls, Obama, women, Obama, and Obama - instead of presenting solutions or helpful alternatives. It's all about the attack, it's all about winning the ratings wars, it's all about the money they make shilling this crap.
And it's hypocritical as hell. These are the same bastards screaming about Ebola before the election back in November, that it was gonna kill us all, that we gotta quarantine everybody, when in fact Ebola is hard to catch (it's still a scary disease to get). Meanwhile, we've got an easily communicable disease like measles floating around and half the GOP establishment is talking about "keeping it voluntary" or worse buying into the anti-vaxxers arguments that the vaccines are not worth it (we've even got a Senator talking about basic hand sanitation being voluntary: he needs to have Typhoid Mary cook for him someday). These vaccines-choicers - promoting a serious health risk that can kill children - tend to be the same SOBs denying choice for women on birth control and abortion.
This is all the Republicans have. They can't lead on these issues, only attack others over them. To them it's all about winning the game, not keeping the nation healthy or informed or improving.
If you want solutions, getting families to vaccinate their kids against the lethal and easily-contagious diseases is a first step. Make it easy, make it informed, make it work. The next step is to take health care serious, take science and medicine serious, and do your damn jobs Congress... Third step is chicken soup, hot tea, and lots of rest.
Doubt the Republicans will even follow through on the no-brainer about chicken soup... sigh.