Stand up, parents residing in the Sun Country Health Region, and give yourselves a pat on the back.
The vast majority of you understand the value of immunizing your children against measles, and, presumably, other conditions.
While new cases of the measles are popping up – 16 of them since the start of the year, and five since April 25 – Sun Country isn't among the beleaguered areas.
More than 85 per cent of children under the age of two have received their two vaccines against the measles. And 98.9 per cent of children have had two vaccine doses before their 17th birthday.
It's not perfect – there has to be at least one anti-vaccine person to spoil the situation – but vaccine rates in all age groups are above the provincial average.
What's troubling is that we're talking about measles in Canada in the 21st century.
This isn't just the anti-vaccine crowd's fault. People have been bringing measles to Canada. Some are newcomers. But others are Canadians who didn't receive the vaccine, went to a country where measles is more prevalent, and brought it back to Canada – infecting others in the process.
There are only two reasons for children to not receive the measles vaccine. The first is a compromised immune system that makes it impossible to handle immunization. The other is living in a remote, isolated area without access to the vaccine.
If you refuse to get the vaccine for your child on religious grounds, for personal choice reasons, or because you're part of the anti-vaccine cult, led by a discredited and fraudulent physician out of Britain, then you are willing to put the health, and even the lives of others, at risk.
Some parents don't want to see a needle in their toddler's arm. Others think that vaccination is part of some big pharmacy conspiracy. Their viewpoints are to be derided.
This is not a personal choice issue. It's a matter of public health and common sense. We funnel a lot of money towards health care in this province and this country. And because some people have an aversion towards needles and vaccines and sensible thinking, we're going to spend more money on health care, because we're going to have more people getting diagnosed with measles, and more babies and children needing long-term hospital stays.
We can make vaccines for conditions like measles, mumps and polio mandatory. That's one solution. And there is some merit. Or we can require children to have their vaccinations before they enter school. That might be the best solution of all.
If you don't want your child to be vaccinated, then your child can stay at home. All day. Every day. Until they're vaccinated.