By Dr. Anthony Policastro

Over the years many new vaccines have been developed. Most have been required for school entry in children. Each time that happened members of the population objected to the need for the vaccine. The numbers show how wrong they were. 

As I had previously mentioned, the objections to the smallpox vaccine mandate in 1898 sound very familiar. Some clergymen complained that it was unchristian because it came from an animal source. Some claimed that the origin of the vaccine was decaying matter in the atmosphere. Some felt that the medical community did not know what they were doing. Others felt that it violated their personal liberty. Some of these types of complaints are now over 120 years old.

Smallpox used to cause an average of 48,164 cases every year. In 2000 the number of new cases was zero. Smallpox vaccine made the disease extinct.

DPT vaccine covered the diseases diphtheria, pertussis (whooping cough) and tetanus. The pertussis component often caused fever. Parents felt it indicated that the vaccine was bad.

Diphtheria used to cause 175,885 cases every year. In 2000 the number of new cases was four. 

Pertussis averaged 147,271 cases every year. In 2000 there were 6,755 cases. Protection against pertussis does not pass the placenta very well so young infants remain susceptible until they get their first round of DPT injections. Actually, pertussis protection is the reason that immunizations begin at two months of age. Tetanus used to average 1,314 cases per year. In 2000 that number was 26.

MMR vaccine covered measles, mumps and rubella. The biggest issue with the MMR vaccine was the fake data produced by Dr. Andrew Wakefield in England. He tried to say that the vaccine caused autism. He hoped to sell his version of the vaccine instead. When he was found to be a liar, he lost his medical license.

Measles used to average 503,282 cases per year. In 2000 there were 81 cases. Mumps used to average 152,209 cases per year. In 2000 there were 323. Rubella used to average 47,745 cases per year. In 2000 there were 152 cases. Congenital rubella in newborns used to average 823 cases per year. In 2000, there were 26 cases.

Polio virus was responsible for 16,316 cases per year. In 2000 there were zero cases. H. Flu used to cause 20,000 cases per year. In 2000 there were 167 cases.

The totals were 1,113,009 cases per year for all these diseases put together. By 2000 that number had dropped to 7,515.

Objecting to new vaccines is not unique to the current time frame. It is also part of human nature to be afraid of the unknown. However, over the years, the numbers have shown the effectiveness of the vaccines to be real.

COVID update- Two weeks ago the national numbers were 676,000 new cases. Last week that number was 507,000. This week it is significantly higher at 870,000. 

That might suggest a Thanksgiving related surge. It is more likely due to delayed reporting over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend. We saw the same thing last year. 

The week before Thanksgiving had 1,235,000 new cases. Thanksgiving week had only 1,115,668. The week after Thanksgiving had 1,304,000. One week later the the case number rose to 1,574,000. Thus it appeared that it was more related to late reporting than anything else.

We saw a similar thing for Sussex County. Last year there were 683 cases the week before Thanksgiving. There were 668 cases Thanksgiving week. The week after Thanksgiving the number was 918. The next week it was 1,171.

This year in Sussex County, there were 589 cases the week before Thanksgiving. They were at 500 for Thanksgiving week. This week, the week after Thanksgiving, shows a rise to 818.

We can expect the national and local numbers to continue rising as they did at this time last year. We can also expect the total numbers to be lower because of the vaccine.

As of Dec. 6 there were 961 cases of the Omicron variant. There were no deaths reported. The typical mortality rate for COVID-19 is just under two percent in the general population. That means that 961 cases should produce about 19 deaths.

The individuals infected so far have been younger. Many have been vaccinated. Therefore, a lower figure is not that surprising. However, the fact that there have been zero deaths is somewhat surprising.

Scientists looking at the mutations of the new variant have found evidence that it might have picked up a piece of the common cold virus attached to it. This could have occurred from an infection in an immunocompromised individual. 

That could impact its severity in two ways. One is that it could make the infection less severe like the common cold. The second is that we might already have some natural antibodies to the piece that was picked up. It is too early to tell if either of those things are true.