Southwest Utah Public Health Officer Dr. David Blodgett is not one to mince words, especially when it comes to vaccines.

"They saved the world, all but eliminated some deadly diseases and increased life expectancy all over the modern world," he said recently on the Andy Griffin Show.

That's why Blodgett and other health professionals are extremely frustrated in the recent trend to not get children vaccinated.

As many as 40 percent of children are not getting immunized in recent times in the United States for basic childhood diseases -- pertussis, chicken pox, polio, tetanus, diphtheria, hepatitis, measles, mumps, rubella and many others.

Why not? Well, that's complicated.

There's the usual group of anti-vaxxers, who have erroneously blamed immunizations for autism, compromised immune systems and toxins in the blood system. But that group makes up less than five percent of the total.

The reason the other 35 percent of parents haven't immunized their kids range from paranoia, apathy or a mistrust of vaccines after the low success numbers from the Covid-19 vaccines.

From the website childrensdefense.org:

"There are now hundreds of anti-vaccine websites, each amplified by social media, causing some to call the spread of extreme views a “cultural epidemic.” The cumulative effect of the controversy and confusion generated can make it difficult for parents to understand the facts and to make well-informed decisions for their children."

In other words, anti-vaxxers are stripping away the facts and using emotion to gain followers.

When I was young, measles, mumps, chicken pox and even polio to a lesser degree were still quite common.

These seemed like relatively harmless diseases at the time, but looking back at the statistics can bring a sobering reality.

  • Before 1963, when the measles vaccine became widely available, about 6,000 people (mostly children) died every year from the disease. In 1978, measles was declared eradicated from the United States. Not one vaccinated person died from measles that year.
  • Diphtheria killed 15,000-20,000 people a year in the United States before the vaccine. Since 2004, there have been no cases of diphtheria in the USA among vaccinated people.
  • Mumps was deadly before 1968, with the mortality rate of those infected averaging about 2-4 deaths per 10,000 people (so 20 to 40 deaths in a city the size of St. George). Since the modern vaccine, in 2017, there were 5,629 cases of mumps in the US, down from 186,000 pre-vaccine.
  • Chicken pox was extremely common 30 years ago and killed an average of 150 people a year. Now, about 30 people a year die from chicken pox.
  • Today, less than 10 people in the United States are reported to have rubella and it is usually associated with travel and not being vaccinated. During the last major rubella epidemic in the United States from 1964 to 1965, an estimated 12.5 million people got rubella, 11,000 pregnant women lost their babies and 2,100 newborns died of the disease.
  • Tetanus is uncommon in the United States, with an average of 30 reported cases each year. In 1950 (pre-vaccine), tetanus killed nearly 600 Americans.
  • Polio vaccine was licensed in the United States in 1955. During 1951-1954, an average of 16,316 paralytic polio cases and 6,600 deaths from polio were reported each year. Since 1988, more than 18 million people can walk today who would otherwise have been paralyzed, and 1.5 million childhood deaths have been averted thanks to the polio vaccine.

To put it succinctly: "The facts are simple: Vaccines are safe. They are highly effective. They are supported by every major American medical society and government agency and are a routine part of pediatric care." --- Children's Defense Fund.

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The Impact Of Marijuana Legalization: Utah Must Learn From Colorado And Oregon

Photo by manish panghal on Unsplash
Photo by manish panghal on Unsplash
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Currently, cannabis with THC (AKA, marijuana) is legal in Utah if the person possessing the drug has a medical prescription for it.

From Wiki:

"In February 2018, the Utah House of Representatives passed HB 195, a bill to legalize the "right to try" and grow medical marijuana plants for terminally ill patients. On March 7, the bill was passed "easily" by the state senate, and on March 21, the governor signed it into law. On November 6, 2018, The Utah Medical Cannabis Act was passed as ballot Proposition 2. Provisions must be set by the state for dispensaries to open by January 2021. On December 3, 2018, the Utah Legislature passed HB3001, amending the Utah Medical Cannabis Act as passed through Proposition 2. The Governor signed HB3001 into law later the same day, causing it to go into immediate effect.

Essentially, the only people allowed to possess cannabis or THC are those with a prescription from a medical professional, presumably granted to help the patient in end-of-;life (terminal) situations.

And while Utah and about half of the other states in the USA are sticking with this stance, there are many other states that have legalized the drug for recreational use.-- 25 in all.

Our neighbor to the east, Colorado, legalized recreational marijuana and immediately saw an increase in violent crime and property crime. Hey, it might be legal, but it's not cheap.

But Oregon lawmakers, perhaps while smoking some of that Wacky Weed, have taken it a step further.

The Beaver State recently passed laws that make it legal to possess a "small" or "personal" amount of cocaine, heroin or amphetamines.

So apparently in Oregon, they're OK if you use those drugs, you're just not allowed to sell them.

After the recent legislation, a number of the eastern counties in Oregon reiterated their desire to secede from the state and join the more conservative Idaho.

So if the proven facts of higher crime, and cancer-causing chemicals in THC don't deter Oregon, apparently they also have no problem with addiction, convulsions/seizures, coma, brain damage, high blood pressure, irregular heartbeat, lung damage and myriad other side effects of cocaine, heroin and meth.

In the past year, an alarming number of "tent cities," human feces on the streets, discarded hypodermic needles and broken glass have also cropped up in the Beaver State.

Oregon is breaking new ground, for sure. But that new broken ground will likely be needed for cemetery plots.

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Grading Utah: Poverty A+, Education B, But Utah Fails At This ...

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Photo by Tierra Mallorca on Unsplash
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Governor Spencer J. Cox recently flooded social media with a bit of a pride boast.

In his Instagram, Facebook and X posts, he touts the great advantages of living in the state of Utah.

Utah receives high grades for low poverty (second in the nation to only Vermont), high charitable contributions, a humming economy and the lowest unemployment rate in America.

But one area Cox fails to mention is Utah's wage/housing discrepancy.

On average, a full-time worker in the state of Utah makes $49,306 a year, ranking the Beehive State as 45th out of our 50 states.

Shift over to the average price of a single-family dwelling in the state, $588,862, and you can see the wage/housing price difference is staggering.

It's simple math. If a family has two working adults who both have full-time jobs, they'll draw a little under $99,000 a year.

To purchase a home with 10 percent down (that's a staggering $59,000), the housing payment at the current interest rate of 7.5 percent for a 30-year fixed mortgage would be $3,412 a month.

Back to the working couple: at $99,000 a year, minus about $25,000 in taxes, leaves them with about $6,166 a month to try and get a house.

If they bring home $6,100, but need $3,400 for a house payment, well that just doesn't work.

No bank in the world would touch a couple with a 56-percent debt ratio.

So, yes, I am very proud to live in this gorgeous state with epic views, world-class outdoor sports and a big heart that takes care of the less fortunate.

But when it comes to getting our young families a place to live, Utah fails with a capital "F."

Utah rankings:

  • Poverty Ratio -- No. 2 in the nation -- A+
  • Charitable contributions -- No. 1 in the nation -- A+
  • Unemployment -- No. 1 in the nation -- A+
  • Happiness quotient -- No. 1  in the nation -- A+
  • Economic outlook -- No. 1  in the nation -- A+
  • Health insurance coverage -- No. 2  in the nation -- A+
  • Women's equality -- No. 50 (out of 50)  in the nation -- F
  • Median income -- No. 45  in the nation -- D-
  • Housing affordability -- No. 42  in the nation -- D
  • Air quality -- No. 45 in the nation -- D
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Loneliness Epidemic: Tragic Incident In American Fork Highlights The Issue

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Photo by Breno Assis on Unsplash
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Don't know if you saw this story from the other day, but it makes me sad:

(American Fork, UT)  --  Authorities say an elderly couple was found dead inside an American Fork home after a welfare check.  Neighbors said they hadn't seen the couple since November, so police conducted a check at the home on North Center Street.  Police say it's difficult to know what happened to the bodies due to their state of decomposition, but added that their deaths appeared to be suspicious.  The couple's names haven't been released yet.

Of course it is sad that this older couple passed away, especially if they find that there was foul play involved.

But what makes the story even more sad is the fact that nobody thought to check on the older couple for more than a month (maybe two).

Did they not have any kids or grandkids? Were they members of their local church community? Did they have any friends or loved ones that wondered about them?

We should take this as a lesson.

According to statistics compiled by Meta-Gallup, one in four adults feels lonely often. More than half of people surveyed admitted to feeling lonely at least occasionally.

United States Surgeon General Vivek H. Murthy warns that "Loneliness and isolation represent profound threats to our health and well-being."

Murthy counters that with the idea that we each have the power to combat this epidemic of loneliness: "We have the power to respond. By taking small steps every day to strengthen our relationships, and by supporting community efforts to rebuild social connection, we can rise to meet this moment together. We can build lives and communities that are healthier and happier. And we can ensure our country and the world are better poised than ever to take on the challenges that lay ahead. Our future depends on what we do today."

There's a cool website called Love For Our Elders that is just one of many charities out there trying to make a difference, with their idea being to write letters to the lonely.

See if you can make a difference today!

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The Lethal Power Of Carfentanil: 10,000 Times Stronger Than Morphine

Photo by Engin Akyurt: https://www.pexels.com/photo/close-up-photo-of-woman-with-black-and-purple-eye-shadow-1475426/
Photo by Engin Akyurt: https://www.pexels.com/photo/close-up-photo-of-woman-with-black-and-purple-eye-shadow-1475426/
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Fentanyl is deadly and addictive. And now it's got a stronger, deadlier brother in Carfentanil.

"It's 50 to 100 times stronger, more concentrated than Fentanyl," said Southwest Utah Public Health director Dr. David Blodgett Wednesday on the Andy Griffin Show. "It's intended use is as a tranquilizer for elephants."

According to the website recoveryways.com, Carfentanil (or Carfentanyl) is "a synthetic opioid that users combine with heroin to increase its euphoric effects. It is 10,000 times stronger than morphine and 100 times stronger than Fentanyl. As such, it is easy to overdose on Carfentanyl."

The side effects of the drug are epically bad.

The most common ones: coma or death. If a person takes the smallest amount, they risk a fatal overdose. Recoveryways.com says  there are other common symptoms similar to other opioids, such as:

  • Inability to focus or concentrate
  • Runny nose or watery eyes
  • Anxiety or depression
  • Restlessness or irritability
  • Muscle ache
  • Fluctuations in body temperature

Users also report experiencing long-term insomnia and excessive sweating. If you or someone you know has experienced the side effects of Carfentanyl, you should seek emergency medical attention immediately.

Has this deadly drug reached us here in the Beehive State?

"It's most definitely here," Blodgett said. "And it's going to get more and more common."

The most common way people are using the new drug is to combine it with another drug (like heroin) to boost the euphoric feeling it provides. Blodgett pointed out that unfortunately the need for a stronger and stronger hit is necessary as the body gets used to the drugs.

"The need for more gets stronger, but the side effects do not lessen until eventually the user takes so much that the body can't handle the side effects and that person overdoses," he said.

Carfentanyl is an odorless, white powder and is an analogue of the synthetic opioid fentanyl and is one of the most potent opioids known and used commercially.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIH), it has a quantitative potency approximately 10,000 times that of morphine, 100 times that of fentanyl, and 50 times that of heroin. It is marketed under the trade name Wildnil® as a general anesthetic for large animals. Carfentanyl is not for human use.

Blodgett said Carfentanyl can be absorbed through the skin and could cause death even with the slightest casual contact with the drug.

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Killer Kitty: World's Deadliest Cat Is Here In Utah

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It's not very likely that your beloved kitty is going to turn on you.

And even if it did, the odds of a housecat doing any real damage to a human are pretty slim. Your average tabby wouldn't harm a mouse and at an average kill rate of around 25 percent (that's the rate that a predator is successful when it decides to go after prey -- usually in the wild), Luna or Tom isn't the most effective killer in the world.

So what is?

Believe it or not, lions and tigers have a kill rate at only about 25 percent. That means three-fourths of the animals those big cats go after get away.

Leopards are a bit more successful, achieving prey kill rates at 38 percent.

Another fairly big cat -- and one with the reputation of being the fastest animal on the planet -- the cheetah, has a kill rate of 58 percent.

The cheetah's biggest problem is after the kill. Because of its relatively small size in comparison with lions, tigers and even leopards, cheetahs lose about 10 percent of their kills when those larger predators come and take them away.

But the best killers in the cat family hardly look the part at all. The black-footed cat, all of three pounds of fuzzy cuteness (check out these photos on Deseret.com), has a successful kill rate of 60 percent.

According to Discoverwildlife.com, this adorable kitty is a super efficient killer.

"Black-footed cats are astonishingly active and successful nocturnal hunters – one scientist’s observations show they make a hunting attempt every 30 minutes, and are successful 60% of the time, making them one of the world's most efficient predators They eat a wide variety of prey, from gerbils and shrews to small birds and insects, and make 10-14 kills every night."

Utah's own Hogle Zoo recently brought in a black-footed cat named Gaia.

If you'd like to visit Gaia, you can see her at the Hogle Zoo.

“As Gaia settles into her new home in the Small Animal Building, you might notice curtains or barriers around her space. We appreciate your help in keeping noise low while she gets acquainted,” Hogle Zoo officials told Deseret.com.

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