A headline in the Tri-City Herald on Sept. 11, 2001 -- 11 years ago -- was about whooping cough making a comeback. Interestingly enough, it's a disease that's in the news this week.
Health officials are bracing for a spike in cases of whooping cough ... again ... still.
While there are lots of unknowns in life that we can't control, whooping cough doesn't have to be in that category. There is a vaccine for it.
Because of Washington's liberal opt-out program for vaccines in general, more and more parents had been taking that route.
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In the last year, however, the state tightened up the requirement and we're starting to see a shift in philosophy.
Now a parent is required to meet with a doctor before being able to decide not to vaccinate.
And whether parents are opting for a vaccine over the inconvenience and cost of that visit, or getting an education on the value of vaccinations once they are at the appointment, more kids are getting inoculated.
This is a positive trend.
It makes us wonder why so many people are (or at least were) opposed to getting their children vaccinated.
In a few cases, parents have strong objections to the practice, whether religious or otherwise, and would rather take their chances with the disease.
In a great many more cases, we suspect parents didn't fully understand the risks and benefits of the vaccine.
We support having a healthy and educated citizenry. We are in favor of parents being able to make informed decisions regarding their children.
And while we appreciate when parents carefully study the pros and cons of actions affecting their child, they are also making decisions that affect the larger community.
Last month, before school started (which is the great incubator or all things germy), there were 100 cases of whooping cough in Benton and Franklin counties.
And while it is just a bad case of the cough for most people, for those in the community who have compromised immune systems, it can be deadly.
So the typically healthy teen who comes down with the disease will usually recover fully, but may unintentionally pass the disease along to someone who won't be able to fight it off.
Kids and adults need to consider the greater good when thinking about immunizations.
Preventing teen pregnancy or convincing kids to hang up when they drive are harder challenges. But making sure that no one dies from whooping cough, well, that's achievable.
Eleven years from now, perhaps the headline will read, "Today marks 10th anniversary of whooping cough eradication."