The Bad Astronomer has this to say:
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This plot, from the CDC, shows probable and confirmed cases of pertussis – whooping cough – in the state of Washington from 2011 through June 2012. Last year’s numbers are the short, light-blue-grey rectangles, and this year’s are the dark blue. The plot is by week, so you can see the 2011 numbers slowly growing across the year; then this year’s numbers suddenly taking a huge leap upward. They are reporting the new rate as 13 times larger than last year. Note that 83% of these cases have been confirmed as being pertussis, while 17% are probable. The drop in recent weeks is due to a lag in complete reporting of cases.
Got that? There are 13 times as many people – more than 2500 in total so far – getting pertussis right now as there were last year at this time in Washington.
Not only did the Bad Astronomer have this to post, but Steve Salzberg was the original poster that Dr. Plait generated his post from. Of course, the source material was from the CDC, which thanks to nutters is having a hard time on that last C in their name...
Anti-vaccination propagandists help create the worst whooping cough epidemic in 70 years
The great northwest of the U.S. is known for its natural beauty. It's also a high-tech region with a highly educated public - not exactly the kind of place one would expect to fall for the anti-science rhetoric of the anti-vaccine movement.But it has. The anti-vaxxers have convinced a frighteningly high number of parents in Washington State to withhold vaccines from their children. A story in The Seattle Times last year reported that"Washington [state] parents are choosing not to vaccinate their kindergartners at a rate higher than anywhere else in the country."This despite the fact that the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (formed by the founder of Microsoft, which is headquartered in Seattle) is one of the world's leading sponsors of vaccine research.When the vaccination rates drop, everyone becomes more vulnerable to infectious diseases. When more than 90% of the population is vaccinated, we have "herd immunity" - this means the disease can't spread because there aren't enough susceptible people in the community. So the high rate of vaccine refusal in Washington makes it easier for whooping cough (and other diseases) to spread.The media has been complicit in spreading some of anti-vaccine misinformation. Sometimes it comes straight from the media itself, such as the credulous, anti-science, anti-vax CBS reporter Sharyl Attkisson. Other times it comes from talk shows, magazines, or even airline advertisements that provide a platform for anti-vax celebrity doctors such as Jay Gordon (who gained fame as Jenny McCarthy's son's doctor) and "Dr. Bob" Sears, who has published his own "alternative" vaccine schedule in a book filled with anti-vaccine nonsense. These characters continue to claim, at every chance they get, that vaccines cause autism (as Gordon has said, repeatedly), or that they cause other harms, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary. They use their medical degrees and their faux concern "for the children" to frighten parents into keeping their kids unvaccinated.