I just don't get it

I guess when you grow up in a time when vaccinations were very, very important you just don't understand parents these days that don't get their children vaccinated against diseases that can kill them.

The recent Associated Press story about Michigan being ranked fourth in the country in terms of parents seeking a waiver to not have their children immunized found that three in four of the waivers were for philosophical reasons and not religious ones.
Public health officials suggested parents may be skeptical that vaccines are essential, fear they carry their own risk (read: they cause autism, which they don't) or believe in the vaccines they had as children but not the newer ones. And the full schedule of vaccines can mean the average 6-year-old has been stuck 20 times.

Back in my day, polio was the killer and maimer. The production of an effective vaccine was a literal game changer, eliminating the disease around the world. There are still some pockets of the disease but Rotary International has worked for years to eradicate it everywhere.

The problem for health professionals is plenty of other diseases are still out there and will come back if people are not vaccinated. Whooping cough is one disease where the number of cases is rising annually, as is measles.

To attend a public or private school, children are supposed to be vaccinated against diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis (whooping cough), polio, measles, rubella, hepatitis B, chickenpox and meningitis.

Plenty of those diseases can be killers or can pose issues later in life. Take chickenpox. I had it as a kid and because of the way the virus operates, I'm at risk of getting shingles at this stage of my life. By all accounts, shingles is not something you want to get.

If I'd been vaccinated against chickenpox and had never been infected with it, I'd be off the hook for shingles.

Why would any parent these days risk their child getting chickenpox and saddling them with the prospect of getting shingles later in life? Why would a mom not get her child vaccinated against rubella if she hopes to have more children, knowing if the child gets it and gives it to her in the early stages of another pregnancy that the effect on the newborn is horrendous?

Another point is while you may be OK with your child becoming sick when they do, they are a pathogen factory passing it around to all those who also are not vaccinated. How does your child as biological terrorist sound?

Certainly there are times throughout our lives when we judge the benefits of something against their risks, but when it comes to one's health and the possibility of death then the benefits compared to a minuscule risk seems worth it.

Depressing, isn't it
Googled anything lately? Of course you have -- we all do just about every day.

Seth Stephens-Davidowitz, who recently received his Ph.D. in economics from Harvard, decided to study depression in the United States by seeing how many times depression symptoms and depression treatment came up in Google searches.

He reviewed Google's aggregate date for every day and for nine years.

Writing in The New York Times on Sunday, Aug. 11, he asked "Feeling good today?" -- which most would say yes to because outside of Christmas, Aug. 11 is the happiest day of the year in this country according to his research. (Hope your day was good, too!)

"Not every health related search using 'depression' is a sign that someone is depressed, and not everyone who is depressed queries Google. But thanks to the incredibly large sample size, meaningful patterns emerge," Stephens-Davidowitz wrote.

Given that, North Dakota has the highest rate of depression and Virginia the lowest. The city with the highest rate is Presque Isle, Maine, and the lowest San Francisco.
The biggest predictor he found was the weather. Cold climate areas had higher rates especially during the colder months.

And given the effectiveness of antidepressants in lowering depression, about 20 percent, he figures that a move from Chicago to Honolulu would lower the September to April depression rate by about 40 percent.

The most depressing thing about that?

Sorry, we can't all move to Honolulu.

Kendall P. Stanley is retired editor of the News-Review. He can be contacted at kendallstanley@charter.net.

The opinions expressed in this column are those of the writer and not necessarily of the Petoskey News-Review or its employees.

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