The Environmental Protection Authority’s 2016/17 annual report warns that scepticism about experts and opposition to bureaucracy are key pressures faced by environmental regulators.
“New Zealand has its share of science deniers whose opinions are reinforced and nurtured in the unmoderated milieu of the internet,” the report says. . .
The report says New Zealand is not immune to the global phenomenon of scepticism of science and the role of experts.
“We have our share of science deniers, who oppose fluoride, 1080, vaccinations, glyphosate, genetic modification and much more,” the report notes. . .
Scepticism of experts and opposition to bureaucracy can be healthy, but not when they’re based on emotion rather than science, feelings instead of facts, rheteric not reason.
Then they can be dangerous, as the national outbreak of whooping cough illustrates:
Director of public health Caroline McElnay said babies under one year old were most vulnerable.
Dr McElnay said the best way to protect against whooping cough was for babies to get free immunisations when they were six weeks old, three months old, and five months old.
Pregnant women should get vaccinated between 28 and 38 weeks of pregnancy to protect the child until they’re old enough to be immunised.
Outbreaks of the disease happen every three to five years – the most recent spanned August 2011 to December 2013.
During the outbreak hundreds of babies and children needed to go to hospital, and three died.
Health professionals are expecting the outbreak to turn into an epidemic. . .
Herd immunity is necessary to stop epidemics – that means enough people are vaccinated to stop disease spreading among people who aren’t.
Some people aren’t vaccinated for medical reasons, for example children with leukemia. Some aren’t vaccinated through inertia or choice, and if it’s children it’s almost always because their parents, don’t get round to vaccinating them or won’t allow them to be vaccinated.
Those who opt out of vaccinating their children are denying the science and in doing so posing a risk to their children and to those who can’t be vaccinated.