In 1900, the average lifespan in America was approximately 47 years. By 2000, that had increased to 78.8 years.
While there were many reasons for this increase — child labor laws, improved workplace safety, antibiotics, new medical discoveries — the No. 1 reason was the virtual end of childhood deaths from traditional childhood infectious diseases. Measles, mumps, smallpox, tetanus and polio were all prevented by vaccination.
As a child growing up in the 1950s, I remember my parents being worried about us getting polio. Once there was a polio vaccine, our whole town lined up at the elementary school first for shots, then the oral sugar cubes. The result: As a parent, I never worried about this disease in my children.
Don’t kid yourself about masks. From my personal experience, they don’t provide much protection. As an employee of the USDA Food Safety Inspection Service, working in poultry plants, we were required to wear a mask; later in 2020 a face shield was added. We sanitized our break room daily, as I did the office I shared with my day shift colleague.
I even wore my mask religiously when out in public. As a veterinarian, I have always been a consistent hand washer. After leaving a store, I sanitized my hands.
Guess what? Five days before Christmas, I got COVID-19 anyway. I was improving, but on day seven I crashed. Fortunately, one of my daughters, a nurse, realized how bad I was getting and hauled me to the hospital. A convalescent plasma transfusion turned me around; fortunately, I was out in less than 48 hours.
The only way this disease will end is it runs its course like the Spanish Flu in 1918, killing the vulnerable with survivors developing immunity, or we get vaccinated. Even after having the disease, I have had my two Moderna vaccines, the first with no problems and after the second I had muscle pain for 36 hours, then none.
I encourage all to help end this disease and get vaccinated. If you don’t care about yourself, do it to protect your family, friends and community.
Bruce D. Hutchinson, DVM
This article originally appeared on The Gadsden Times: Veterinarian's message, "get vaccinated"