Posted by Sharon Schendel on Mar 18, 2018
Bill Ashman (Rotary Club of La Mesa), PDG Larry Scott and President Klaus Gubernator
I hate needles. I don’t have time. I got them when I was a kid. I didn’t know I needed them. Vaccines will make me sick.  These are just a few of the reasons that people give for skipping immunizations. Past District Governor (PDG), Larry Scott, our speaker at the March 15, 2018 meeting, rebutted each of these reasons and debunked a few myths during his presentation on the critical need for lifelong immunization.
PDG Scott is a member of the District 5340 committee Don’t Wait, Vaccinate.  The Committee was founded in 1994 in response to low immunization rates in the county. The Committee was a natural extension of Rotary’s global role in polio eradication, and a vehicle to harness the network of Rotarians to encourage members of their community to stay current with vaccinations.  The Committee and the District provided funding for high school students at Carlsbad High School to produce the film “Invisible Threat” that examines the science of vaccination and considered why parents choose not to vaccinate their children. The film is now an educational tool used by over 300 universities in the US and several countries across the globe. The American Academy of Pediatrics hosted a screening at their national conference and uses the film to help medical residents discover strategies to overcome parents’ hesitations to vaccinate.
Vaccination is a continuing source of controversy, as several groups contend that vaccination causes autism. Some of these beliefs arose from a 1998 study by the British physician Andrew Wakefield that contended the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine caused autism. This study has since been retracted and many subsequent studies debunk this myth.  Nonetheless, a small, but increasing percentage of parents choose not to vaccinate, putting not only their children, but others, at risk. PDG Scott explained the importance of “herd immunity” wherein the population that is vaccinated protects those who cannot receive vaccines because, for example, they have weakened immune systems or are allergic to vaccine components such as eggs. Furthermore, a high percentage of vaccination in a community stems or even eliminates disease outbreaks.
In addition to infants and children, teens and adults need regular vaccinations. Everyone should get the flu shot. Although this flu season has been particularly bad, those who had the flu shot were less likely to be infected and if they were, the infection was less severe. Tdap boosters beginning at age 10 and every decade thereafter (pregnant women should get a booster in the 3rd trimester) are important for everyone to protect against tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis (whooping cough).  For teens, both boys and girls, the human papilloma virus (HPV) vaccine can reduce the risk of contracting the virus that causes genital warts in both sexes and is linked to cervical cancer in women.  The meningitis vaccine prevents bacterial meningitis infections that frequently occur on college campuses.  Adults aged 60 and over should be vaccinated against shingles. Even those who were already vaccinated should receive an improved vaccine, Shingrex.
Immunization is the most important health achievement of the last century and is estimated to have saved over 450,000 lives since their use became widespread over 50 years ago. But vaccines only work if you get them! 
Thank you to PDG Janice Kurth for arranging to have PDG Scott speak to our club and to past Asst. DG Bill Ashman for joining our meeting.