Morning News article declared: “Five Americans Dead of Rabies Last Year.” Let that sink in: Rabies.

Deaths from this disease are very rare. Those five who died made 2021 this the deadliest year for rabies in more than a decade.
What caused the spike? Fear of vaccines.

Now let that sink in.

Imagine you are bitten by a bat or dog. The doctor says you need an immediate shot of immunoglobulin to fight the virus or you will die. But you refuse that shot of immunoglobulin because you are afraid of vaccines!

That is exactly what happened in three of those five cases referenced in the article.

Though there is no treatment for rabies once it has taken hold, it can be stopped if caught early enough. That’s why there have been so few deaths due to rabies over the past decade. Well, that and the fact that we vaccinate domestic animals against the rabies virus.

But now the anti-vax insanity has claimed more victims.

Just as the precipitous rise in COVID cases is directly related to people refusing to be vaccinated or take simple safety precautions, like wearing masks, this small but alarming rise in rabies deaths is directly related to anti-vaccine fears. And it should serve as a wake-up call to everyone.

The fact is, scientists do not have some hidden agenda. Their work is for the benefit of humankind. Granted, a successful drug or vaccine can be very profitable for pharmaceutical companies, but the initial research is done to cure or mitigate disease.

The superstition and misinformation and flat-out craziness surrounding vaccines is killing people. The resurgence of measles in some places is yet another testament to this.

We may well be moving into a new Dark Age, and what is sad is that it is being spurred on by something that actually has the potential to enlighten the world rather than spread misinformation and fear: the internet.

People have lost the ability to critically examine what they digest online and are proving daily that Barnum was right: “There’s a sucker born every minute.”

I fear for our future. I fear for the generations of young people who believe everything they see on TikTok and YouTube. I fear for these generations who trust social media “influencers” more than they trust actual science.

I recall the early days of the HIV/AIDS epidemic and how quickly rumors of government experiments, transmission by mosquitoes and even the idea that kissing could cause HIV spread.

We are lucky that the social media disinformation metaverse was still several years away then. We saw science and rational behavior as a way to slow the spread and save lives.

Yes, there was a lot of hysteria back then, but most of it was quelled by sane ideas and factual information. Now people ignore sanity and facts because the internet tells them to.

My hope is some of that earlier rationality will rub off on the younger generations and on those older folks who are prey to these trending conspiracy theories and flat-out madness. Because without critical thinking, we could all fall into a new Dark Age lit only by our cell phones and computer screens feeding us the latest fallacies and fads.

What starts as a trend ends up as a deadly practice.

Hardy Haberman is a longtime local LGBT activist and chairperson of the Woodhull Freedom Alliance board. Read his blog at