Editor’s note: Dennis Wyatt is on vacation. The following column first appeared on Feb. 23, 2015
There will be 301 Manteca residents who will not die by the end of this year thanks to vaccines.
The mortality rate for all causes of death is down 54 percent from 1900 to 2010 based on data compiled by the Atlanta-Based Center for Disease Control.
Back in 1900, the mortality rate was 1,719 people per 100,000. In 2010, it had dropped to 798. Everyone eventually dies but a solid argument can be made people are living longer thanks to vaccines.
In 1900, flu killed off 202.2 people annually per 100,000 residents in this country. Tuberculosis claimed 194.1 lives per 100,000 people yearly and diphtheria took 40.3 lives per 100,000. Those three diseases alone killed 435.6 people per 100,000 some 115 years ago.
By 2010, flu was claiming only 16.2 people per 100,000. The death rate from tuberculosis and diphtheria had dropped so low that it is lumped into the catch-all “other” category for causes of death.
The reason for the major decline? Vaccines.
Measles were not quite as deadly. Prior to 1963 when a vaccine was rolled out, an average of 500 people a year in this country died with two-to three-year epidemic cycles that typically sickened between 3 to 4 million people a year. Measles went into a steep decline after vaccines were made available to the point where 1,497 cases were reported in 1983
Measles re-surged between 1989 to 1991 because a small but growing number of parents stropped getting vaccines for their kids. That led to 123 deaths from measles over the three-year period.
A record low 37 cases with no deaths occurred in 2004.
After staying between 40 and 210 cases annually through 2013, measles suddenly surged to 644 cases in 2013. Through May 31 of this year, there have been 971 cases reported in the United States.
It’s blamed primarily on unvaccinated individuals with young kids being at the greatest and deadliest risk since typically they can’t get the first of two necessary vaccines until they are12 months old and again between the ages of 4 and 6. And given the shots for various reasons the vaccine doesn’t talk hold, an estimated 5 percent of those who receive two shots can still contract measles.
At any rate, vaccines significantly knocked down deaths in the United States going from 500 a year to years there were none since the 1950s while overall cases dropped from 3 million a year to 644 last year.
The rest of the world hasn’t been as lucky specifically in countries still struggling to get kids vaccinated. There were 2.6 million measles deaths worldwide in 1980. Through vaccination efforts that dropped to 145,300 deaths last year.
There of course is a debate in some quarters that vaccines somehow trigger autism in kids. The one study published decades ago has been widely and thoroughly dismissed as being extremely flawed and dead wrong.
I was able to research everything you just read Saturday from endless government, medical, and health care sites while laying for 67 minutes with a needle stuck in my right arm to remove platelets from by blood at the Delta Blood Bank on March Lane in Stockton. I also came across sites where parents and others slam vaccines as dangerous.
Tell that to the 1,342,080 Americans who would have died in 2014 based on 1900 mortality rates if it weren’t for vaccines for tuberculosis, diphtheria, and the flu.
Of course, there is a misinformation floating around the Internet about the “dangers” of giving blood. The big lie is that you will somehow contract a disease.
I’ve surpassed the 30-gallon mark. I go every two weeks to donate platelets.
I do it out of a sense of a moral obligation to others. I’m fortunate to live in a time and country that has afforded me the ability not just to enjoy virtually unmatched freedom in the annals of history for the non-ruling class but also the ability to live long and healthy. Granted, DNA may play a role but the bottom line is there have been a lot of advancements we benefit from that we take for granted. And to enjoy a healthier life we have to be an active participant.
Platelets, by the way, are critical for those battling cancer and undergoing chemotherapy, having heart surgery or organ transplants or have bleeding disorders.
I have a vague idea of the process involved in extracting white blood cells and how they are used to help others battling to stay alive.
Mostly I set aside 2.5 hours between travel, donation, and processing time every other Saturday based on faith in medical science.
It is the same medical science that helped me avoid polio, tuberculosis, diphtheria, and a host of other diseases that would have crippled and killed in mass numbers in this country just 60 years ago.
I’m not going to lie. Twice out of almost 80 platelet donations the needle worked its way during the process to the edge of my vein and caused blood to infiltrate where it shouldn’t go. It was painful for a few minutes and I was black and blue on a part of my arm for just a couple of hours.
But the discomfort is nothing compared to someone battling cancer.
The same goes for a vaccine shot.
Getting them may hurt for a second or two, but compared to someone dying or suffering immensely from contracting measles, TB, or diphtheria the discomfort is nothing.
This column is the opinion of executive editor, Dennis Wyatt, and does not necessarily represent the opinion of The Bulletin or Morris Newspaper Corp. of CA. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or 209.249.3519.