If you happen to live in the United States or Canada, you’ve probably heard about the recent rise in cases of mumps or as some people like to call it…

(The Chubby Cheeks Virus…)

I’ve spoken on the virus quite a few times over the last month. Most of what I’ve said is summarized in my recent Huffington Post article, which you can read here:

Here’s The Reason Mumps Has Made A Comeback

As most people know, the best way to stay safe from this infection is vaccination. The mumps vaccine has been around for fifty years and continues to be the most effective means to keep the virus at bay.

But that doesn’t mean I am safe when I talk about these vaccine-preventable diseases. As per usual, I ensure I do my research on the history, the current situation, and any small details that could enrich the message.

Yet I also prepare for…

(A Battle of Words…)

Usually, as soon as I begin to promote vaccines, I can expect to be assailed by a small yet very vocal population of people who are against vaccination as a whole. There are a number of different names associated with these individuals but the most common in today’s scientific lingo is…

(Vaccine Hesitancy…)

The usual argument follows a similar script.

Me: Vaccines are effective.
Them: Vaccines are bad!
Me: Vaccines are safe.
Them: Vaccines are bad!
Me: Vaccines prevent infection
Them: Vaccines are bad!
(Repeat ad nauseum)

No matter what clinical evidence or molecular mechanism I provide, there is simply no room for these valuable medicines in their world. Eventually, the tone gets ugly and at times the attacks change from scientific to personal. At that point, there’s no other option than to…

(Give up the goose…)

As the mumps stories appeared, I readied myself for the assaults. I had all my arguments intact. Although the end result most likely would be a stalemate, I was prepared to go to social media war.

But something strange happened. Instead of flames and vitriol, the response to my efforts could be best described as…

(Crickets…)

There was no push back. There were no accusations of being a shill. The only comments I received shared thanks and appreciation. I even tried to stir the pot a little by spreading the word across different platforms. Yet still, there was no response. It’s as if there was hesitance in the hesitancy.

I know…

(Call it the Vinny Barbarino effect…)

I decided to ask around to find out if there were others feeling the effects of hesitancy but again, there was nothing. Instead, it seemed the advice to seek out vaccination against mumps was being left alone.

While I cannot say for sure what caused this lack of response to the mumps vaccine, I wonder if something else convinced them to stay clear of the issue. If I am right, then it may have something to do with a rather common symptom associated with infection…

(This is an actual ad…)

Maybe the fear of having excruciating pain in certain sensitive areas could overtake the urge to fight unwinnable battles. Perhaps the worry of infertility – for both men and women – could replace the baseless concerns over widespread vaccine harm. Or could it be that when it comes to an actual problem with lasting effects, such as diabetes and brain damage, people will turn to whatever works even if it goes against their principles?

In other words real fear may actually defeat…

(You get the idea…)

If this premise is correct, the result does leave a bitter taste. If the only way to gain the public’s trust is to scare them into acting on recommendations, we will continually need to have greater health threats in order to succeed. Granted, this may do some good in the short term but over the long haul, the efforts will end up hurting everyone. We’ll live in a continually worrisome society, which is as the hesitancy crowd would say…bad.

Not to mention, it may backfire such that we may have to worry about an even greater problem based on irrational fear. If you don’t believe me, let me bring back a word from a few years ago…

 (Need more be said?)

 

Advertisements