Nine female health workers trying to administer the polio vaccine were shot dead in Nigeria on Friday. It’s a horrifying deja vu of the murders in Pakistan in December, which also killed nine female polio workers. Women are risking their lives to help eradicate this awful disease in the few countries in which it remains. Â At the same time, more and more American parents are choosing not to vaccinate their children – or putting them on potentially dangerous “delayed” schedules.
From the New York Times:
A four-day vaccination drive had just ended in Kano State, where the killings took place, and the vaccinators were in a âmop-upâ phase, looking for children who had been missed, said Sarah Crowe, a spokeswoman for theÂ United Nations Childrenâs Fund, one of the agencies running the eradication campaign.
No one immediately took responsibility, but suspicion fell on Boko Haram, a militant Islamist group that has attacked police stations, government offices and even a religious leaderâs convoy.
Polio once paralyzed millions of children. Through vaccinations, it has been almost fully eradicated. There are only 1,000 known cases around the world, and it is endemic in just three countries:Â Nigeria, Pakistan and Afghanistan. This is progress. This is science. I’m not sure how anyone could possibly refute that.
Every time I write a story about vaccinations and my belief that they are necessary – there is always at least one comment that claims that we live in a developed nation and have the necessary medical resources to come to the rescue if our children fall ill. I don’t understand this argument. Diseases like polio have been eradicated because of successful vaccinations. Why deny your child that? Why regress?
The only thing I know for sure is that brave people are dying to give children in under-developed countries the same advances in medicine that we take for granted every day. That is a shame. Turning your back on medical advances that save the lives of children is tantamount to child abuse in my opinion. And it’s a slap in the face to every health worker that risks their lives so children can be healthy.