Will an Australian infant's death finally force antivaxxer introspection?

Now that antivaxxer hysteria has permeated the culture in America and abroad, the inevitable effects are being felt.

Phil Plait has a post on an Australian child that contracted whooping cough in a region of the country with lower than average vaccination rates. The child in this case has died.

Australia where vaccination rates have dropped considerably. The child in this case has died. The end result? Kids, including infants, are getting sick, and some of them are dying. Never, ever forget that, no matter how loudly these people yell, and no matter what garbage they spout (including, inevitably, in the comments that will follow this very post). Babies are dying.

In Australia, this movement is taking root as well. Calling the alarm to this, a TV program in Oz called “Sunday Night” aired an excellent exposé of what happens when parents don’t vaccinate their kids: they risk their children’s lives, and those of others. In the case shown on the TV show, a four-week-old baby, Dana McCaffery, died of whooping cough. This innocent infant wasn’t eligible for vaccination yet, but the lack of herd immunity — that region has lower-than-average vaccination rates — sealed her fate. The fact that other parents didn’t vaccinate their kids gave that little girl a death sentence.

Warning — the video in Plait’s post is very tough to stomach.

I am convinced that anti-vaccine activists really believe that they operate in a consequence free environment.

They are free to make baseless arguments and push discredited “evidence” to create a climate of confusion and ignorance, but will assume none of the responsibility when, remarkably, the rates of whooping cough increase tenfold in the region where this baby contracted the virus.

As the entire world has learned over the last few days, we are at risk of epidemics that we could not have foreseen and are scrambling to combat.

But the whooping cough vaccine has been in existence and widely available for decades. It is beyond disheartening to observe humanity attempting a global response to a dangerous new epidemic, while at the same time millions of people are consciously choosing to reenergize another virus that science and education have allowed us to contain.

Crossposted at Conservatives for Science