Mind Over Miller: A vaccination proclamation
If I was told that I must practice medicine using only one technique, which would I choose? Not surgery, not prescribing pharmaceuticals, not antibiotics, not physical therapy. I would choose vaccination, which has saved more lives, both animal and human, than any other technology.
In my lifetime, I have seen smallpox eradicated and poliomyelitis controlled. The childhood diseases I suffered—measles, whooping cough, and chicken pox—are now easily prevented. These childhood diseases and others, such as diphtheria, were usually coped with devoid of serious after-effects, but not always. The victims were often permanently damaged, and some died.
Rampant animal diseases such as canine distemper and hepatitis, parvovirus, leptospirosis, anthrax, anaplasmosis, brucellosis, hog cholera, blackleg, and so many others are now effectively controlled by vaccination.
In the first half of my career, I saw many cases of tetanus, mainly in horses. In the second half of my career, I only saw one case. Vaccination!
I experienced countless cases of canine distemper. Today it is a very rare disease in my area. Vaccination!
In 1960, our community experienced an epidemic of leptospirosis in dogs. Today, the disease is nonexistent here and most practitioners no longer need to vaccinate.
Anthrax outbreaks were common in my practice in the mid-20th century. No longer. Vaccination!
Feline panleukopenia was a plague when I started practice. I remember one farm with dozens of cats in the barn (but no mice). Then a panleukopenia outbreak eliminated all but two of the cats and, a few years later, the scenario was repeated. Today it is a rare disease. Vaccination!
Despite these medical miracles, there is a growing number of people who refuse to vaccinate their children or their animals.
A fallacious study by a British physician in 1998 linked autism in children with vaccination. This unfortunate and fraudulent study has been disproven, but many people now fear vaccination.
Smallpox wiped out a majority of Native Americans after European colonists introduced the disease into the New World. Today, smallpox is nonexistent. Vaccination!
As a result of ignorance, outbreaks of some of these diseases are now occurring with increasing frequency.
Now, I can understand the gullibility of a person who has not been medically educated, especially in these times of constant gossip and rumor in social media.
But amazingly, there are physicians and veterinarians who preach against vaccination—against the greatest miracle and lifesaver in all history.
I have simple advice for any person with a doctorate in medical science who opposes vaccination: Give up your license! You should not practice!
Robert M. Miller, DVM, is an author and a cartoonist, speaker and Veterinary Medicine Practitioner Advisory Board member. His thoughts in "Mind Over Miller" are drawn from 32 years as a mixed-animal practitioner. Visit his website at robertmmiller.com.