Don’t risk lives, immunize

This is enough to make anyone a little ill.

An immunized worker at Providence Regional Medical Center Everett caught whooping cough, exposing dozens of coworkers and patients to the potentially deadly bug.

It’s not surprising the health care worker got sick. Pertussis, as whooping cough is also known, is at epidemic levels in Snohomish County. The people treating it are bound to be at greater risk.

What bothers us is the fact that the worker was vaccinated against whooping cough, and the vaccine’s failure may throw gasoline on the anti-vaccination crowd, firing them up.

These people are wrong, so please, go get vaccinated.

What, not convinced? OK, let’s take a quick science sidebar.

It’s true that the vaccine isn’t 100 percent effective. It fails to work for roughly 1 out of 6 people, which is why that vaccinated health care worker got sick.

Doctors don’t quite know why it doesn’t work better. It may have to do with the way it’s made, using part of the pertussis bacteria. On the upside, by not using the whole bacteria, as once was done, the vaccine causes fewer side effects. On the downside, it sometimes fails to work — or so the theory goes.

Some will see the vaccination’s failure rate and ask, “Why bother?”

Well, if there was an 83 percent chance of winning the lottery, wouldn’t you buy a ticket?

Some still will shy away from the needle, touting free will. We love free will — really, love it! — but there’s a problem with that argument. Unlike, say, driving without a seat belt, which puts you at risk, failing to get vaccinated puts other people at risk. And those other people mostly are babies.

From 2004 to 2009, infants made up 91 percent of the fatalities caused by whooping cough, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Last year, tragically, the disease killed a 27-day-old Lake Stevens girl, too young to be vaccinated.

Vaccination hasn’t ended whooping cough deaths, but it hasn’t hurt. Before the vaccine, about 8,000 people died annually from whooping cough, according to the CDC. Now, that number is closer to 50.

Put another way, the vaccination helped reduce deaths by an astonishing 99.4 percent.

So don’t be that guy, the one too lazy or opinionated or scared of shots to get vaccinated. The one who gets sick. The one who figures they have a cold — whooping cough often is like a bad cold for adults. The one who goes to the grocery and coughs near a child. The one who contributes to a death.

It’s too easy to be that guy.

Get vaccinated.

Put the odds in everyone’s favor.

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