Parents who do not allow their children to be vaccinated against polio now risk jail time for defying a government order aimed at ensuring that the disease is eradicated from Africa's most populous nation, authorities said Friday.Let's see if we can make sense of this. Giving a child drops of live but attenuated polio virus--something that can actually cause people to contract a crippling or fatal case of polio--is heath care. How, we wonder, would one define heath assault?
Tajuddeen Gambo, the permanent secretary of the Kano state health ministry, told The Associated Press that Nigeria has a law that punishes parents who refuse their children access to health care.
"Polio immunization is part of health care," Gambo said.
Alas, there appears to be no such legally defined category of crime or trespass. In fact, in the USA, medical malpractice laws specifically exempt inoculators. You can sue a doctor for giving you any treatment that turns out to be ineffective or harmful--unless it's a vaccination. In that case, he's immune from litigation. Why is that?
Let's continue the story:
Tommi Laulajainen, the UNICEF chief of communications for polio efforts in Nigeria, explains that it takes four rounds of drops for children to be completely out of danger.Completely out of danger from what? Contracting polio, we suppose--although no one will guarantee in writing that an inoculation being given is 100% effective. But what about the first three rounds--what dangers might they hold?
We have to make sure we capture every single child," he said. "Because if one child is not protected against polio, he or she can get the virus and spread it very quickly to other children in the community."This statement flies in the face of the previous quote. What possible danger could children who've received all four drops be in from their immunized fellows? Well, remember the four drops: children who've only received one, two, or three could contract polio from those who've received none at all--or from each other!
If you think about it, this argument falls short on its very claims. Polio could continue to be spread, indefinitely, among children who have not yet received the full round of shots, could it not?
He said a collaboration with religious leaders has been particularly fruitful over the years and that health workers have used a variety of communication tools such as drama, radio, street theater, town criers and strong visuals to remind parents that polio will keep lurking until it's wiped out.But it will never be wiped out to the point that it's not lurking. Governments of the world will continued to hang on to the active virus as a potential biological weapon, while they continue to vaccinate their own troops against the possibility of the other side doing the same. No virus, under such circumstances, can ever be wiped out.
Nigeria's needle-wielding vaccinators are living in a dreamland.