The third time I got German measles, it occurred to me that not only were vaccinations not eternal, but even having the illness twice didn’t necessarily confer permanent immunity.
I had German measles when I was a youngster — maybe eight or nine? The next time I got it, I was 30 and on vacation in the British isles. We were visiting as much of England and Wales as possible during the six weeks we were there.
The final time I caught it, I was back from Israel and in my late forties. There is a vaccine for it, by the way, which is recommended for women of child-bearing years. Having had it twice before, it didn’t occur to me I needed a vaccination. Wrong again. Immunity is not exactly the same for everyone. It’s an individual thing. Exactly how much immunity you get from any vaccination depends on you. Your body. All you can know is the “typical” amount. You might be different.
About fifteen years ago, I was getting a rabies shot (good for five years in case you were wondering) because I was the Assistant Animal Control Officer for the teeny tiny town of Milbridge. I wouldn’t do the job without a rabies vaccination. Which cost almost $500 and that was 15 years ago, so it’s probably more now. It isn’t a shot everyone needs, but vets and anyone else who works with animals needs to have one. Rabies is incurable.
Garry came with me to the Worcester County chief doctor. He treated everyone and worked with veterinarians looking for rabies. He said that no matter what we might have heard, any warm-blooded animal can get rabies and he’d recently gotten a couple of deer who were rabid.
After he gave me the shot, he asked: “So when did you guys get your last shots for…” and he proceeded to list pretty much all the shots we’d gotten as kids. Since neither of us could remember, he figured he’d just give us one of each. I later had to get my own vaccinations for other things, but we got all the basics: diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis (Whooping Cough) ( DTP) and some other stuff. I’ve forgotten exactly what, but I’m sure it was a good idea and anyway, it was free.
I remember as a kid, every time I stepped on a nail or got cut playing outside, I got another tetanus shot. I never knew exactly what tetanus was until I read a book about how the Brooklyn Bridge was built. Tetanus is a particularly ugly way to go. John A. Roebling, the man who built the bridge died of tetanus. It was horrible.
We all get annual flu shots. Since we started getting vaccinated, I’ve never gotten the flu again. I’ve gotten pneumonia a few times and that is with having gotten the pneumonia vaccine. The problem with the pneumonia vaccine is that it only protects against a dozen or so variations on pneumonia and there are many more.
Also, not all versions of pneumonia are viral. You can’t vaccinate against a bacterial disease. This is why, after all these centuries, there are no vaccines against Bubonic plague and never will be. The main antimicrobial agent to treat plague is streptomycin and a lot of it. Preferably intravenously.
We are never going to be able to inoculate everyone against everything. Nor do we need to be protected from everything. Just diseases that might kill us or seriously damage us or the people around us.
A lot of people have been boondoggled about vaccinations. The result is that we have (again) epidemics of measles and whooping cough, which isn’t usually lethal to children, is often lethal to their parents and grandparents.
Vaccination isn’t just for you. It’s for all of us. The diseases you can’t get you won’t spread. You will keep your grandparents alive. Measles doesn’t usually kill kids either, but it blinds some and can cause deafness in others. It kills babies.
If you have no regard for your own safety, do you care about the rest of the world? About other people’s babies and grandparents? About people with issues like heart problems or cancer? Because the illness you don’t care about can and will kill them.
Do you care? If you don’t, please don’t tell me. I have strong feeling about anti-vaxxers and all of those feelings are deeply and powerfully negative.