The measles story is amazing. A deadly disease once in check brought back to life by vaccine fear. Every media outlet in the world is desperate to tell the story.
Before measles was newsworthy, the original storyteller was Dr. Paul Offit. He was evangelizing when it wasn’t popular. And he realized his share of traffic. But it wasn’t the kind of attention any media outlet or organization seeks. As public enemy number one in the war on vaccines, he endured everything from personal defamation to death threats.
Individually working on behalf of children in a way that most of us would be afraid to do, he’s served as a consistent voice of reason. Offit has served as a medical moral compass in a self-centered world that had forgotten the threat of deadly childhood disease. It’s hard to measure the impact of his work and advocacy.
After the outbreak’s gone and the media has moved on to the next story, he’ll still be there. And hopefully he’ll be accompanied by a new generation of pediatricians who recognize the critical role of public conversation and advocacy before problems start.
If you want to get up to speed on the destructive force of the anti-vaccine movement you should read Offit’s, Deadly Choices. My 2011 review will offer some background.
Image: La Vaccine L. Boilly G. Lith. de Delpech., 1827. (cropped) via the National Library of Medicine