A new school year is just around the corner here in Newport-Mesa, and education officials are alerting parents that a new law requires students entering grades 7-12 to get a whooping cough booster shot. Incidents of whooping cough have exploded in the past year.
Yet this is an "old-fashioned" disease that many don't even remember, because, along with many other childhood diseases — like polio, chicken pox, measles and mumps — it had been virtually eradicated through immunization. The re-emergence of whooping cough is not just a health threat, but it indicates a breakdown in the mass immunization of children, which is one of the core components of our health-care system.
Over the past 10 years or so, distrust of "shots" by parents of children with autism has combined with religious prohibitions and political conspiracy theories, not to mention simple complacency, to undermine this important underpinning of public health.