OUR VIEW: Vaccination stories aren't easy
Rightfully so, the general public gets passionate about vaccinations. We're seeing it more this year than in recent memory. As the new year kicked off, there was a measles outbreak in Davison County, and several people became concerned how the di...
Rightfully so, the general public gets passionate about vaccinations.
We're seeing it more this year than in recent memory.
As the new year kicked off, there was a measles outbreak in Davison County, and several people became concerned how the disease could affect themselves, family or friends. By mid-January, there were at least 13 reported cases of measles in the county. Then, the South Dakota Department of Health made 1,000 measles vaccinations available. From the time of the first reported case of measles through the vaccination clinic, we saw an emotional whirlwind swirl through the area.
We heard people wonder, exactly, how parents would choose not to protect their child by getting them vaccinated. Why would someone decide not to vaccinate when a shot would prevent them from illness? That decision put others at risk, and it certainly did not sit well with the general public.
The outbreak has come and passed, but another incident involving preventative vaccinations has stirred controversy.
Last month, a Dakota Wesleyan University student died from bacterial meningitis. But his father told our newspaper his son was vaccinated with the meningococcal vaccine.
Jim Keeter, the father of 17-year-old Beau Keeter, questioned the effectiveness of the vaccination. That's when some of our readers became upset with our newspaper, saying that we didn't do our part to ease the concern that there may be "a bad batch" of vaccinations, as Keeter suggested.
In our defense, we attempted to contact the state epidemiologist for the story, but he didn't immediately return our calls. Then, as soon as we could, we followed up with that medical professional, who told us the meningococcal vaccine has an effectiveness of up to 95 percent within the first year. Within five years of the vaccination, the effectiveness hovers around 75 percent.
In this instance, we reported the opinion of a relevant source and went with what we had at the time. We felt it was a developing story that we could expand on later, and we did.
Still, it's surprising to see how passionate and defensive the general public gets about vaccinations.
We've also had a reader call each of the past few years following annual the flu shot clinic who has told us to stop running photos of kids who looked scared while getting shots. The reader tells us it discourages vaccinations.
Though, we want everyone to know, as we stated in an editorial earlier this year, we're fully in favor of vaccinations. We know they're extremely beneficial, as most medical professionals agree.
We know that getting vaccinations can be as simple as a small poke, but we also know vaccinations are a touchy subject of discussion.