OPINION -- Recently the topic of immunization has come to the forefront with two unrelated events in Ontario.
The first is the case of Timothy Sullivan, a high school teacher from Waterford, Ont., who was recently found guilty of professional misconduct by the Ontario College of Teachers.
His story revolves around his actions during two days when students at his school were being inoculated.
According to testimony at the hearing, during the two day event, Sullivan left his classroom on three occasions. He went to the cafeteria and repeatedly shouted at students and a nurse, making them feel unsafe.
At one point Sullivan slammed his hands on a table, and demanded to know if the student had been informed that the inoculation could cause death.
The second event is a Mumps outbreak taking place in Toronto.
To date, there are 14 confirmed cases of the Mumps, and the common factor appears to be that the patients frequented clubs or bars in downtown Toronto.
The mumps virus is highly contagious and is found in saliva and respiratory droplets.
The mumps are spread through coughing, sneezing, and coming into contact with saliva by kissing or sharing drinks, utensils, food or water bottles.
The mumps vaccine is one of the vaccines that Ontarian's receive as part of their immunization protocol.
The science behind vaccines is well settled, and well documented.
A simple Google search will provide you with countless charts and studies showing, what I consider ridiculously successful outcomes.
In almost every case, the diseases have been virtually eliminated from our population, with data showing 90-100 per cent success in preventing deaths for those that do become infected.
A small but loud group known as “Anti-Vaxxers” believe that the general public is being lied to, and that vaccines are responsible for many illnesses.
The big one is Autism, with death following close behind.
Anti-vaxxers have received a great deal of the spotlight because there are many celebrities who have decided to take up the cause.
Perhaps one of the earliest, and most recognizable celebrity anti-vaxxer is Jenny McCarthy.
There is absolutely no evidence that vaccines cause any serious illnesses. Sure there are some mild side effects, but those effects are minuscule when we compare it to the advancements in our society.
No longer are large numbers of people dying in agonizing pain.
We as a society have been able to accomplish so much because we are no longer concerned, nor do we have to deal with, people dying from a contagious and preventable illness.
Countless studies have been conducted by scientists, yet some people choose to believe a former playboy model, turned actress, turned activist.
What exactly gives McCarthy, and other celebrities like her, any credibility in the science of immunization? Why do we even care what they think? (I guess that’s a topic for another column).
Sullivan has every right to believe whatever he wants to believe.
My problem begins when he tries to impose his ideology on others, and when things don’t go his way, he creates a situation where he was making students and staff feel unsafe.
As a parent whose child was recently inoculated at school, I can tell you that I was certainly made aware of all the potential risks, and consent forms were required. I was also given the option of having the injections performed by our family doctor.
I believe Sullivan acted inappropriately, and was rightfully found guilty of professional misconduct.
As for the Mumps breakout, it’s too early to arrive at any conclusions, but I’m very curious to find out how many of the infected people were previously inoculated against mumps.
In conducting research for this article, I learned that the main point of contention for anti-vaxxers is that they want to decide what products are injected into their children, and not have the government decide.
Now, I’m certainly one for keeping the government as far out of my life as possible.
However, when you choose to not inoculate your child, what you are doing is endangering the lives of countless other people.
This is definitely a case where the needs of the many, far outweigh the needs of the few.