The Price of Ignorance: Refusal to Vaccinate

I read and wrote about the article entitled “What Vaccine Refusal Really Costs: Measles in Arizona” by Maryn McKenna.

Taken by Heather; 2016

Refusing or not bothering to get vaccinated cost lives. Just look at what happened in Arizona in February 2008.

McKenna reports that after visiting Mexico, a 37-year-old woman heads to Tucson. She neglected to get a measles vaccination and got sick some time during her vacation. Because she’s sick, she goes to the hospital.

Forty-eight hours later, doctors figure out that this woman has measles and decide to put her into a negative-pressure isolation room.

The question is who did she infect in that 48 hours?

McKenna tells us that because the virus can stay alive for several hours in room, measles is extremely contagious. In total, no one knows how many people she infected. Patient one may have gotten everyone on the plane sick or the people she came into contact with at the hospital.

Investigators do know that a 50-year-old woman who left the ER got sick with the same symptoms of measles and came back to the hospital. Doctors didn’t realize that she had measles too until six days later. (Let’s call her patient two.)

In the article, the author informs us who got sick from patient two. While waiting for the doctors, she infected a nurse, an eleven-month-old, a three-year-old, and a five-year-old. One of the children patient two gave measles to passed on the deadly disease to a one-year-old.

The nurse gave measles to two of her patients a 47-year-old and a 41-year-old man.

McKenna discloses that other people started to have symptoms of the measles virus. A two-year-old started having seizures from fever. An eight-year-old and a nine-year-old started having symptoms along with two other adults.

The blogger advises us that measles can jump from one person to up to twelve. Investigators don’t know the extent of the outbreak. People from the plane, the ER patients, people in the same church as one of the patients, or the kids in the same daycare as one of the toddlers who were infected could have all been exposed.

The list can go on. While most Americans today point the finger to parents, but workers such as nurses, physician assistants, or doctors who miss the opportunity to get vaccinated are accountable too – probably more so because they come in contact with sick people. At the hospital in which people became sick with measles, thirty percent of the medical professionals were either not vaccinated or can’t give evidence of said vaccination.

Vaccines are infusions of nontoxic elements that are either a piece of the pathogen or similar to that specific pathogen that allows certain white blood cells to recognize that specific dangerous bacteria, virus, or fungi (Reece 402).

The reason people get vaccinated is because humans have what’s called acquired immunity in which white blood cells recognize specific molecules on pathogens and destroy them.

Vertebrates are the only organisms who/that have acquired immunity. Unlike innate immunity, which is immunity that involves adaptations such as barriers and few molecules with receptor proteins that recognize pathogens and bind to them, acquired immunity, however, has a bigger number of receptors that recall a certain aspect of the pathogen.

Humans have an innate immunity and an acquired immunity (Reece 948; 952).
Cells that are involved in the acquired immunity response are B and T cells. These are lymphocytes that are born from the marrow of bone.

What’s amazing is that these cells are stem cells that mature into T cells in the thymus (an organ located above the heart) or stay in the marrow to become B cells (Reece 952).
To activate acquired immunity, a pathogen’s molecules or antigen binds to a B and T cell, which have antigen receptors that fit onto this distinct molecule of the pathogen (Reece 952).

Vaccination would activate B or T cells making them go through several cell divisions in which most memory cells would become effector cells when the antigen comes into contact with them again. Effector cells are B or T cells that fight any antigen or any pathogen that makes that antigen. Effector cells live brief lives. Effector B cells later become plasma cells and effector T cells later become helper T cells and cytotoxic T cells.

The rest of the clone stay as memory cells. Because they have a very long life, memory cells are able to combat the same antigen again (Reece 956).

Plasma cells produce antibodies. Antibodies are Y-shaped proteins that defeat pathogenic molecules and activate T cells (Reece 953). Helper T cells start the antibody production (Reece 958). Cytotoxic T cells inject hazardous proteins into an infected or cancerous cell to kill it (Reece 959).

Because the immune system has already been exposed the pathogen through vaccination, vaccination allows the human body to make a secondary response without having to go through the primary. Primary response climaxes 10 to 17 days after first contact with a pathogen. This is a long and dreary process of the human body defending itself, making memory cells, and killing infected cells. The secondary response climaxes 2 to 7 days after contact with the same pathogen (Reece 956).

This article discusses the dangers of the irresponsibility of unvaccinated people whether they are a tourist or a healthcare worker. I knew about the various parents who’ve made the decision not the vaccinate their children, but I didn’t realize that people who worked at hospitals neglected their vaccinations, which is nothing short of stupid.


References:

McKenna, M. (2011, April 04). “What Vaccine Refusal Really Costs: Measles in Arizona.” Retrieved November 05, 2016, from https://www.wired.com/2011/04/cost-vaccine-refusal/

Reece, Jane B.; Urry, Lisa A.; Cain, Michael L.; Wasserman, Steven A.; Minorsky, Peter V.; Jackson, Robert B. (2013-10-18). Campbell Biology. Pearson Education. Kindle Edition.

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