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Misplaced fear

December 18, 2014

When it comes to Ebola, the public is demonstrating its fear and paranoia with measures ranging from buying personal hazmat suits to excluding children from schools who were in countries next to countries with Ebola. Government officials are quarantining individuals. The media is reporting about “shelved vaccines” and the need to now rush these vaccines through research and development. This is in bizarre contradiction to the increasing resistance to well-studied vaccines that prevent the diseases that actually pose a risk to children.

Ebola virus is highly unlikely to infect anyone in this country except health professionals or caregivers taking care of patients with Ebola. However, there are a number of diseases that will without a doubt kill people in the United States this year, including pneumococcus, influenza, and pertussis. Parents remain more fearful of vaccines than these endemic, deadly diseases. Influenza alone will kill 50,000 people. Why are people scared of Ebola, and not influenza? It doesn’t make sense.

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