Why public health decisions matter to Sussex County

October 12, 2021

Imagine a time when a young mother faced the pain of her 3-year-old baby having a fever of 105 degrees screaming throughout day and night from contracting measles. 

This I personally witnessed in the world before today’s childhood vaccines. To further feel the tension, understand more than a few children of that day went deaf or died after days of prescribed ice baths in the kitchen sink that rarely worked to reduce brain damage due to prolonged high fevers. 

Growing up in that world before effective vaccines, I witnessed neighborhood friends having “stunted arms” and iron lungs for breathing, prior to the polio vaccine being discovered. Polio, measles, chicken pox, rubella, diphtheria and even smallpox kept young mothers up at night in fear of some possible deadly future for their children. 

The world changed when science stepped up and discovered effective vaccines; public health officials organized and installed a mass inoculation program in the schools requiring all students to have papers validating they had their shots. The rest was history; in a few years the new normal changed for the better across the globe. 

Yes, there were the same arguments of individual rights being violated. This noise was not to the level of today’s “politicizing” because the fear of childhood death spawned fear in the general population. Public health won, as the needs of the many superseded the objections of the few. 

Today, these diseases are close to nonexistent worldwide. 

About that 3-year-old child with the fever; unfortunately, measles vaccines came too late for this young mother. Her son went 71 percent deaf and spent his early years learning to lip read and cope with a “hearing” world. Mom was always at his side in the health clinics after work. 

Yes, it’s personal for me; not an easy letter to put in the Cape Gazette publicly, for sure. Yes, I was that 3-year-old child.   

Had it not been for a loving, determined mother, outstanding teachers, nurses and doctors in early childhood, it may have had a very different outcome. Mom was tough about getting a full education to make it in life. Learning additional skills such as lip reading before and after school did level the playing field for me. She always gave me the support needed to make it in a “hearing” world. She was one special mom!   

So please, Sussex, choose to avoid a potential negative future outcome for your family; get the COVID-19 vaccine. For your children, grandchildren and the greater good of your community. It’s the right thing to do. You will be glad you did. 

Jack Bucchioni
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