Recently, the news has been abuzz about ebola — specifically, health care workers contracting ebola. This is how it should read:
“Health care worker A has been infected with ebola. S/he was caring for a patient infected with the disease, and had been placed under proper quarantine as a precaution. Unfortunately, s/he did develop symptoms. We hope for a positive outcome in this case and thankful that the spread of disease has been prevented.”
This is not what is happening.
Instead, they’re reporting things like this:
- “Nancy Snyderman apologizes for violating quarantine.”
- “Health care worker is diagnosed with ebola one day after returning from a cross-country plane trip.”
- “Man dies of ebola after knowingly exposing lots of people.”
Ebola is an incredibly deadly illness, for which there is no known cure. (And at this time, I can’t even begin to guess about alternative treatments.) No one wants it to spread on American soil, yet we’ve now had three diagnosed cases (plus the doctor who flew home after infection and recovered). Health care workers aren’t taking this very seriously, evidently, and in doing so, are placing us all at risk.
But it’s okay, you guys. Because the real threat clearly comes from unvaccinated children….
It’s Okay, We’re Professionals
“Dr” Nancy Snyderman apologized for violating quarantine by saying, basically, that she’s a health care professional and she would know if she were sick.
Only, she wouldn’t.
Ebola has a potentially long incubation period, and you can begin to display symptoms at any time — in 6 hours, a day, a week — until that incubation period is over and it’s safe to say you haven’t been infected. Not having symptoms or feeling bad now does not mean that you are not contagious. It does not mean you won’t develop symptoms. It’s impossible to know for sure until the incubation period is over that you aren’t risking others’ health by going out in public.
But, oh, she says it’s okay. So it must be.
And yet…we have the case of the health care worker who cared for a man with ebola, hopped on a plane for a week-long visit with family and friends across the country, hopped another plane to get home, and was diagnosed with ebola the following day. Maybe she was even beginning to feel a little “off” by the time she got on that second plane. And she knew she was within the window of incubation and that she’d been exposed to ebola. She knew!! And she got on a plane anyway, potentially exposing hundreds of people. (On the plane, and in both airports.)
If it were possible for health professionals to “know” they would or wouldn’t get ebola, then this wouldn’t have happened, but it did.
Why are precautions not being taken? Why are health care workers who care for patients not being placed on automatic quarantine? Why are they at least told not to travel, especially by plane?! This seems obvious — if we’re to prevent the spread of ebola, and protect public health, then we need for people who are definitely being exposed to be under quarantine until they are past the incubation period. This is an absolute must.
Health care workers don’t appear to be taking this seriously at all. They’re placing our health at risk.
Blame the Unvaccinated
Meanwhile, these same people are saying — if we would just vaccinate all children, then public health wouldn’t be at risk.
It’s so hypocritical it’s unbelievable.
Health professionals claim it’s “all about public health.” If that were true, then they would be taking ebola a lot more seriously. That’s a much bigger and more imminent threat to public health. It’s actually deadly, and people are actually being exposed to it.
But no…let’s just blame everything on the parents who don’t vaccinate. Those children, even though they haven’t been exposed to anything, are walking disease carriers who are single-handedly destroying public health.
The lack of critical thinking is breathtaking.
It seriously boggles my mind that people are blaming unvaccinated children, who might someday be exposed to chicken pox (almost never deadly) as a bigger threat to public health, than health care workers who care for ebola patients, are definitely exposed to a truly deadly illness, and then hop on planes. Just…wow.
Worse, some people are using this ebola scare as a way to drum up even more anger and bullying towards parents who don’t vaccinate. Like these aren’t actually separate issues. (Newsflash: although there is an ebola vaccine in human trials, there isn’t one approved for use yet, so everyone is at equal risk. And it’s being fast-tracked and won’t have been properly safety-tested when/if it is released. How about we focus on quarantine, something that carries no risk and could stop the spread if it were actually used properly?)
It’s just fabulous that people are using absolutely everything to conjure more anger towards those who don’t vaccinate. And I mean that in the most sarcastic way possible.
Frankly, when health care professionals aren’t taking quarantine seriously, and aren’t using every known method to prevent the spread of disease, their words about the importance of vaccines from a public-health perspective are completely empty.
It’s Time to Stop the Madness
We need to stop blaming “unvaccinated children” and “people who question vaccines” for all the problems in the world.
There’s no one-size-fits-all answer to health care. Not on vaccines, and not on anything else. There simply is not. We need to stop pretending that there is. We need to stop pretending that there is a consensus about this, too. The “official organizations” may have their recommendations, but lots of other health professionals have come to different conclusions.
For now, let’s just stop the anger and the hate towards people who question vaccines, and let’s start proper precautions to prevent the spread of ebola. Like putting all health care workers who care for sick ebola patients under automatic quarantine that ends 21 days after their last contact with the patient. That would be truly smart for public health.