Comedian Chris Rock gave his latest comedic monologue with a suggestion for Washingtonians and anyone else not planning to get the vaccinations required by the D.C. health department: get yourself vaccinated.
“If I have a kid and he gets sick, I’ll do anything in the world except go through the wall, so I get the shots,” Rock said at the end of his show in Washington, D.C., last Friday.
Unlike Rock, the celebrity pastor for the National Black Church Initiative, Dr. Mark Dayton of the National Black Evangelical Coalition, is pro-vaccine, and he is preaching in that direction.
Yesterday, Dr. Dayton, the president of the National Black Evangelical Coalition and a pastor of Greater St. Paul Missionary Baptist Church in Washington, D.C., said some black Christians believe that their children should not get vaccinated, but that anti-vaccine parents should not have a special place in a future major meeting of doctors.
The church group is advocating to include more non-vaccination parents in the upcoming National Association of Black Journalists conference, which is taking place in Miami in August. The NAACP conference is also taking place in Miami, in early October.
Dr. Dayton said that he disagrees with some of the decisions some pastors have made on the subject, but that he shares their belief that for some people, the purity of the womb is a higher value than the health of the community.
“I don’t agree with that, but I understand,” he said. “I understand those things. They are counter to social norms, but to me it is the truth. And when somebody just says what the truth is, you have to listen to them.”
“I cannot control other people,” he said. “But I can control myself. I can control what I say and how I stand.”
Dr. Dayton is also advocating the need for more environmental awareness and longer, healthier lives. “Vaccines are a small part of that,” he said. “We need to encourage long life and eco-friendly living.”
In its overview of the widespread understanding of the benefits of vaccines, Johns Hopkins Medicine provides a brief history of how the drug became part of the regular fabric of a city. During World War II, the U.S. government ramped up vaccination efforts in cities including Baltimore and New York. By 1950, about 95 percent of children were on preventive treatment programs in public schools.
During the recent D.C. outbreak of diphtheria in May, 500,000 residents were vaccinated after 12 people were confirmed to have contracted the disease, which no longer lives in the city.
“When we talk about vaccinations, for me the purpose is to save kids’ lives,” Dr. Dayton said. “It’s a matter of saving a life. And a human life is worth saving. And it’s not just in this country. The values of life are universal.”