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Thinking About Science

I follow a young blogger named Alexis Chateau. She is from Jamaica and is currently RVing the southwestern United States with her cat. I really enjoy reading her blog and following her adventures. In her latest blog post she explains how she stays safe traveling during a pandemic. Please check out her blog. You might find it as interesting as I do.

After reading her latest post, I started thinking about why I trust science and why others do not – especially those in my age group.

I grew up in a very rural and somewhat remote area. We were easily a 30 minute drive to the closest town which would get you a pharmacy, a 5 and dime, a grocery store, a hardware store, a feed store, and one small family owned department store. For much more than that, it would be at least a 45 minute or an hour drive depending on what you needed. Trips to town were needs-based.

In those times, things often came to us. The Bookmobile was common, especially during the summer when there was no school. There were also rabies vaccination clinics so the entire community could have their dogs vaccinated in one fell swoop. But rabies were not the only vaccination clinic.

I believe I had my smallpox vaccination at school. I have a memory of standing in line with my classmates, all getting the inoculation in our left arms. We all have a scar which I gladly wear because it helped prevent this disease among my children and grandchildren and generations to come. Other tests and vaccinations were delivered into remote communities by traveling nurses and doctors.

I remember when we had the TB Tine test. It introduced a small amount of the smallpox antigen under the skin to test for a reaction. I remember the nurse drawing a circle around The four little pin pricks the test left on my forearm so they could test for a reaction later on. There is a vaccine for tuberculosis but it is not given in the United States. Countries where the disease is more prevalent may administer the vaccine.

Tine test
Photo Credit:Content Providers(s): CDC/Donald Kopanoff, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

I also remember nurses coming to administer the polio vaccine. We never minded that one so much because it was given orally, dropped on a sugar cube. Another childhood disease that I am sure my parents wanted to prevent us from having.

Perhaps it was witnessing the devastation these diseases could impart that made the difference. Watching so many children suffer from measles, mumps, chicken pox was stressful enough. I am sure the worry about tuberculosis and polio was extremely frightening.

Now when we find ourselves in the throes of a Covid-19 pandemic, people deny it, refusing to wear masks and refusing the vaccine. On average, 500 people still die in the United States from tuberculosis every year, more than a million worldwide. Polio has been eliminated in the United States since 1979. That is quite a feat considering the virus once paralyzed 15,000 people per year during the epidemic.

Perhaps it was seeing photographs of paralyzed children, or children confined to iron lungs In hospital wards that left no doubt in my parents’ minds that we would be vaccinated. One of the last people utilizing an iron lung is Mr. Paul Alexander. He contracted polio when he was six years old. He was never expected to live long, but he is still alive today, 74 years old confined to the iron lung that saved his life. His story is here and is a stark reminder of the reality of the severity of deadly viruses. What a strong and determined man he is.

So why do some smart and educated people deny Covid-19? I wish I knew the answer. Somehow, someway, I was raised to believe in science and the advancements of medicine. I am thankful for whatever science spark was lit inside me, and am so thankful, it was passed on to my children as well.

27 thoughts on “Thinking About Science”

  1. I remember getting those vaccines in school, too, Maggie. And I can’t answer your question about science deniers. It really aggravates me because it makes the rest of us less safe. :0(

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It does jeopardize us needlessly. I am hopeful there will be something that works to change minds. We are so much better together than apart, but finding common ground seems to be so difficult these days.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. When I was young, Polio was devastating still. Iron Lungs, and children crippled. I had the sugar cube vaccine for Polio, and the smallpox vaccine at a London health centre. We had the TB vaccine at age 11. A big needle, but fortunately just the once! Younger people fail to realise how lucky we are to have so many vaccines now.
    Best wishes, Pete.

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  3. Unfortunately, Maggie. The ones of our age that are impressionable, are the same ones that watch reality shows and believe almost everything they read on social media. They take social media as gospel first and foremost over science.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I remember getting all those vaccines, plus the TB one.
    I will never understand why seemingly clever intelligent people deny covid and refuse the vaccine for stupid reasons.
    Alexis Chateau would be out of luck because in the UK we are not allowed to travel unless there is a valid reason. I would of thought because of the pandemic it would be the same in the states….Mind you I will read her blog.
    Take care my dear friend 💜

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Willow, much of the U.S. came out of lockdown and some were never in. I, myself would never take the risks of traveling so much during this time being my age, but Alexis seems to be diligent and careful. I can live vicariously through her. In some ways she may be safer than living in an apartment in a larger city.

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        1. So many differing points of view on what it will take for us to be safe again. I just hope people can quell their desires long enough to to get us a safer place.

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          1. Yes indeed, life is hard at the moment. Despite the strick rules here some people will not comply to the rules. I also fear the next few weeks as all children return to school and rules are relaxed. I don’t know Maggie I am not in a good place at the moment 💜

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          2. Oh, Willow. I am sorry to hear that you are struggling. Is there anything I can do to help lift your spirits? These are not easy times.

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  5. I mostly remember my polio vaccination. I must have been about 6 or 7 as It was at a local pool/community center in Albany, CA, near a house we lived in our last years in California. I still smell the chlorine and taste the sugar cube. By then, my dad was almost finished with his graduate studies, as we were on to Texas soon after that (when I was eight).

    I have no idea why anyone wouldn’t believe in vaccination, myself. The evidence that it’s largely effective, for so many diseases, is compelling to me.!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. the numbers are very telling yet some people just flatly deny covid. i don’t understand it either, Maggie. thank you for introducing Alexis. how she deals with this pandemic is admirable! 🙂

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    1. Wilma, so nice to see your name pop up here. I do not understand the deniers. I truly don’t. I hope you enjoy some of Alexis’ adventures.

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  7. Thanks for the shout-out! I’m glad my post inspired you. I didn’t know so many people were paralyzed by polio. Goodness! I wonder what the stats are in Jamaica. I also didn’t know Americans have the scar on the shoulder. I thought that was an old school Jamaican thing. I’m one of the few Jamaicans my age who don’t have the scar. Mom says it’s because I got one of the newer vaccines.

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  8. I really will have to ask my grandma about this! Interestingly enough, even when you take the population into consideration, Jamaica had better numbers. America has consistently had roughly 80 to 100 times whatever our population is throughout the years, including back in the 1930s when Jamaica first started reporting cases (the article said 1929). It said there were 4 to 5 cases of polio paralysis every year. Spread out across an American population, that would be about 400 to 500 cases of paralysis, whereas you said here had 15,000.

    I wonder what accounts for such a big difference. Jamaica was still under British rule back then, so Britain may have been more keen on deploying top-tier medication for its “subjects”, even though there wasn’t yet a vaccine. Who knows!

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I appreciate those who read and I enjoy your thoughtful comments.

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