I remember as a child in Ireland seeing photos of kids with polio and a national campaign featuring a child named Wee Willy, feet dragging along behind his crutches, aimed at polio's eradication.
I remember people of my parent's generation discussing the dreadful impact that diseases like polio had on children and families. The Salk polio vaccine saved countless lives when it was invented.
Years later in Calcutta, India, when on a trip with Irish aid agency GOAL, I saw another kid with polio, useless feet curled underneath her, living in a squalid slum.
It was quite shocking and led me to remember the greatest innovation in my childhood was probably the vaccinations that prevented us getting such horrific diseases ever again.
The eradication of diseases like smallpox, the provision of clean water and hygienic living conditions saved hundreds of millions of lives around the world, more than all the miracle drugs combined.
Sure I got measles and mumps and other diseases like whooping cough, which were later essentially eliminated, and I can only thank those enlightened public health officials all over Ireland, America and the world who ensured that such diseases are things of the past.
Or are they? Incredibly we now have a debate again here in the US and probably elsewhere about the safety of vaccines and an upsurge in measles a disease previously thought eliminated.
The attack on vaccination comes from two sides, first the liberal parents who believe the government can do no good for their children and link vaccination to autism and other disorders.
The science has been proven to be bogus, but a handful of deluded celebrities including Jenny McCarthy have led the quixotic battle to not have their children inoculated.
The outcome of that battle is evident – a surge in the number of measles cases across the US with huge implications for kids everywhere.
The other pincer group is right-wingers who, like the lefties, do not trust the government to do anything right even as they cash their social security checks, collect their mail, use Medicare and so on.
Unbelievably, some of them at the highest level question the safety of vaccines and some of their leading politicians have urged choice as an option.
But choice is not an option. An unvaccinated child endangers all other children and is a potential health hazard.
It seems incredible all these years later, when public health has had such spectacular success against diseases like measles, mumps, polio, and TB, that there are some deluded folks on both sides of the political aisle who believe that not vaccinating children should be an option.
It is as if a conquering army turned back with victory in sight and fell to arguing among themselves.
As Hillary Clinton recently stated, the earth is round the sky is blue and vaccines work.
Shame on those on the left and right who endanger kids' health and public health by opposing them.
What on earth will they oppose next – clean water?
Er this just in – Republican senator Thom Tillis believes restaurants should not require their workers to wash their hands after using the bathroom.
Tillis stated, "I don't have any problem with Starbucks if they choose to opt out of this policy.."as long as they published a sign saying employees were not obligated to wash their hands.
Lord help us all.