Vaccinate, please.

Because it’s not just about you.

I HAVE chronic lymphocytic leukemia. Three months ago, I underwent an allogeneic stem-cell transplant, in which my wise, 52-year-old white blood cells were replaced by bewildered, low-functioning cells from an anonymous European donor. For the next seven months or so, until those cells mature, I have a newborn’s immunity; I am prey to illnesses like chickenpox, the measles and the flu.

These diseases are rarely fatal, unless you’re a newborn or someone with a suppressed immune system like me. My newborn buddies and I do have some protection, however: the rest of you.

Young babies, the immuno-compromised and people who get chemotherapy are not able to process most vaccinations. Live vaccines in particular, like those for measles and chickenpox, can make us sick. But if 75 percent to 95 percent of the population around us is vaccinated for a particular disease, the rest are protected through what is called herd immunity. In other words, your measles vaccine protects me against the measles.

Author: has written 5268 posts for this blog.

Jill has been blogging for Feministe since 2005.
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174 Responses

  1. mredria
    mredria December 28, 2011 at 5:08 pm |

    This issue is really important to me. My dad had a transplant and when I was a kid this issue was very clear. You have vaccinations, including seasonal, or you don’t come to my house.
    Now my dad is elderly and my brothers has a heart condition and its even more important to me. Sure you might not know any babies or immunity suppressed folk, but maybe your friends do. To speak nothing of public places.

  2. Echo Zen
    Echo Zen December 28, 2011 at 5:43 pm |

    There’s been more than enough written on the threat that families who erroneously refuse to vaccinate their children pose to public safety. At least U.S. health professionals are taking stronger, more concrete measures to fight back — like banning parents from bringing non-vaccinated children into their waiting rooms. The health sector can do with fewer walking biological weapons (as neat as it sounds).

    My only quibble is with Weinreb’s claim that young babies can’t process most vaccinations. By the twelfth month, most babies should have received most of the vaccines they’ll need in their lifetimes, albeit with booster shots for good measure. The usual trend for all new vaccines upon release is to start with adults, and then incrementally push back the age of first administration until you reach infancy — which is the only way to guarantee a vaccine’s effectiveness. That’s what we did with virtually every vaccine from IPV to HepB, and what we’d projected would occur with the HPV vaccine — though stiff resistance in the U.S. will likely interrupt this trend.

  3. EG
    EG December 28, 2011 at 10:49 pm |

    Well, it depends on how you define “young.” My understanding is that infants don’t begin to receive vaccinations until 6 months.

    Nevertheless, people who don’t vaccinate their (non-immuno-compromised) children make me mad enough to spit nails. Vaccinations are one of our great triumphs. Children don’t die of these things any more. To say nothing of adults. And…if your daughter loses her baby because you never bothered to vaccinate her against rubella, what, precisely, are you going to tell her?

  4. Guest
    Guest December 29, 2011 at 1:43 am |

    EG: The recommend schedule for vaccination starts at birth (hepatitis B), and includes multiple vaccinations before 6 months. Measles/Mumps/Rubella and the the other live-virus vaccines wait until after a year or two.

  5. EG
    EG December 29, 2011 at 1:51 am |

    Interesting. Thanks for the info!

  6. Justamblingalong
    Justamblingalong December 29, 2011 at 2:38 am |

    EG- I agree with the sentiment, though my anger tends to be directed less at the people in the anti-vaccination movement and more at the cynicism of the news media, which gives their views airtime in exchange for a wider audience. Most of the people I’m aware of who are stridently anti-vaccine have an autistic child, and are upset, and want someone to blame (obviously there is a ton of societal ableism tied up in this). It’s not a particularly admirable reaction, but it is an honest, human one. On the other hand, there are an awful lot of people exploiting their confusion and anger for political gain, and that is despicable.

  7. mad the swine
    mad the swine December 29, 2011 at 9:00 am |

    I’ve looked at the science, and I agree that the establishment seems to have gotten it right this time, and that vaccination is the responsible thing to do. But given the medical industry’s history of forced sterilizations, lobotomizing women, forcing brutal chemical treatments on ‘hysterical’ or ‘frigid’ or ‘nymphomaniacal’ women to ‘correct’ them, advocating heavy tranquilizers like Valium for housewives dissatisfied with a subservient role… let’s just say I can’t really blame any woman who regards any Western medical intervention with a great deal of suspicion.

  8. Angie unduplicated
    Angie unduplicated December 29, 2011 at 9:11 am |

    Carpet manufacturing country is a hotspot for both leukemia and idiot Fundamentalism. I will get the word out on the importance of vaccination to leukemia patients. Thank you for letting us know.

  9. evil fizz
    evil fizz December 29, 2011 at 9:25 am | *

    Justamblingalong: except the autism/vaccine link was fabricated by Andrew Wakefield. And while I understand the desire to want a cause or something easy to understand about the etiology of autism, quacks, celebrity liars, and charlatans have played on that relentlessly.

  10. Jennifer
    Jennifer December 29, 2011 at 10:35 am |

    I am fully vaccinated, including the flu vaccine, and so are my kids (on the AAP schedule, which is here http://aapredbook.aappublications.org/resources/IZSchedule0-6yrs.pdf ). However, while I am in favor of vaccines, I also acknowledge that there are people who are injured by vaccines and that we do a poor job of screening these people out. While I know the things to be aware of before getting a vaccine (current illness, etc.)–I am often not asked about these issues before vaccines are administered. I’ve had to go out of my way to get any information about the vaccines I or my kids have been given, and in the course of doing this discovered that my doctor’s office was not administering one of them correctly–they were not following the instructions on the product labeling and were not giving a follow up dose. While I find many of the anti-vax people to be uninformed, I also don’t like the vibe I get from many on the other side that anyone who raises any concern whatsoever about vaccines, including the system for administering them and measuring whether injury has occurred, is stupid and out to hurt public health. Unfortunately, our sensationalistic media plays up the most strident voices on both sides. So yes, get your vaccines, but ask for information and the labeling about what you are getting and read the instructions to see if you are getting the correct dosage and to be aware of potential side effects and how to report them. A watchdog org with more info is here http://www.nvic.org/

  11. Jicklet
    Jicklet December 29, 2011 at 11:09 am |

    Jennifer – I was under the impression that the NVIC was an anti-vaccination activist group, rather than an watchdog org.

  12. Jicklet
    Jicklet December 29, 2011 at 11:11 am |

    Hmm, I had trouble posting my link to a discussion about the NVIC. I hope it works this time.

  13. Alice
    Alice December 29, 2011 at 12:09 pm |

    Huh, I’ve never really thought about vaccinations in that way.

  14. Shoshie
    Shoshie December 29, 2011 at 12:23 pm |

    Jennifer-

    The flip side of that is that pretty much the only protection for people who have allergies or sensitivities to vaccines (I know someone who had a severe allergy to one, so they avoided giving her others) is…herd immunity. So the best thing for people who actually cannot accept certain vaccines is for everyone else possible to be vaccinated.

  15. Dick Morris
    Dick Morris December 29, 2011 at 12:29 pm |

    ALSO do not forget that someone with CLL, Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia, regardless of their treatment, has a severly compromised immune system. They die of pneumonia or other simple problems, not from the CLL itself.
    Vacines are often just weak versions of the diseases, and thus children and adults have been proven to be capable of spreading the disease from which they have just been vacinated, for up to two weeks after the vaccination. After the two week period then the vaccinated child or adult has built up the necessary antibodies and they cannot be infectious.
    So those of us with CLL, like me, are in favour of everyone being vacinated, but we do not get too close to a vaccinated child for a couple of weeks.

  16. Partial Human
    Partial Human December 29, 2011 at 1:20 pm |

    NVIC is stridently anti-vax. Barbara Loe Fisher dishes up myth, cherrypicked nonsense studies, and presents the cases found in VAERs as fact, when in fact the vast majority of the links are merely speculative or occurred in the weeks after the vaccine.

    Sciencebasedmedicine.org and scienceblogs.com/insolence are brilliant sources of anti-vax debunking. Even the trolls are amusing.

  17. Jennifer
    Jennifer December 29, 2011 at 2:14 pm |

    @Jicklet–NVIC promotes itself as a watchdog org and not an antivaccine org. What it “really” is, I suppose, is open to interpretation. I found your link to be more about demonizing than providing information, which is what I find to be the case with any discussion of vaccines, unfortunately. Frontline did a piece on vaccines where the founder of NVIC came across to me as reasonable, so that’s why I mentioned them http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/vaccines/ . Looking at their site, I think it’s fair to suggest that they are anti-vax–certainly anti compulsory vaccination. Their site has some good info, though CDC is probably better, now that I look more carefully http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/default.htm . I think there is room for better consumer info around vaccines–I get more info and labeling automatically with any prescription than I do for vaccines. The CDC info sheets, which I am often not given, don’t specify the manufacturer or have specific labeling instructions (though you can get these from the CDC). I had a case where my health care provider was not administering a vaccine correctly, so that’s made me more inclined to question the process, if not vaccination generally.

  18. Jennifer
    Jennifer December 29, 2011 at 2:26 pm |

    Shoshie–I get that, but do we actually know who shouldn’t get them and are those people screened out? My point is not that people in general shouldn’t be vaccinated but that, in my personal experience, health care providers don’t ask screening questions and aren’t necessarily following the labeling instructions. In my case, had I just gone along with my health care provider and not questioned anything, my immunization would not have been effective because I wouldn’t have gotten the second dose, and they never would have realized this because they weren’t giving anyone info about the vaccines they were giving, nor were they reading the instructions.

  19. Past my expiration date
    Past my expiration date December 29, 2011 at 3:07 pm |

    @Jennifer, if you can find a single instance where NVIC says that it’s a good idea to vaccinate, I’d be very interested. I’d also be interested in any acknowledgement from NVIC that Andrew Wakefield’s autism study was scientific fraud.

  20. librarygoose
    librarygoose December 29, 2011 at 3:35 pm |

    The flip side of that is that pretty much the only protection for people who have allergies or sensitivities to vaccines (I know someone who had a severe allergy to one, so they avoided giving her others) is…herd immunity. So the best thing for people who actually cannot accept certain vaccines is for everyone else possible to be vaccinated.

    Like Me! So I want to thank all the shiny happy people who get themselves and their babies vaccinated so I don’t get any random diseases.

  21. ATC_K
    ATC_K December 29, 2011 at 3:58 pm |

    Both my sisters and myself are not vaccinated, by choice of our parents (and I, in turn, am not going to vaccinate my children). My sisters and I are all totally fine and have never had any problems, and we were consistently less sick than all of our classmates growing up. We’ve always been in the top percentiles for “health”. I’m not saying this to incite any fury or anything, I just want to throw it out there that we’re normal people, too.

    And trust me, everyone in the world knows that non-vaccinated people are apparently subhuman because we don’t have vials and vials of unnecessary junk pumped into our veins; we have to sign waivers for every school and every job. If there’s an outbreak of MMR at my university, I can’t be on campus and my professors don’t have to let me make up the work. I’ll just lose my tuition money with a “W” for a grade.

    All that just because everyone else is so bent on controlling everyone else’s life. That’s also the reason for any debates on abortion. Everyone wants to have a say on how other people live their life when it doesn’t affect them at ALL.

    If I am not vaccinated against a disease and I become a carrier, and you and I are in the same room… if you’re vaccinated against it, what does it matter? I think people should stop being obsessed with everyone else’s lives and quit trying to foist their choice of lifestyle on the rest of the world. That’ll be a little easier for everyone.

  22. librarygoose
    librarygoose December 29, 2011 at 4:19 pm |

    If I am not vaccinated against a disease and I become a carrier, and you and I are in the same room… if you’re vaccinated against it, what does it matter?

    It matter to people like me who can’t always be vaccinated. Through no choice of myself or my parents I am at the mercy of people who don’t get vaccinated. Stop assuming every goddamn person you come into contact with is vaccinated. And fuck you and you’re holier than thou shit. Your parents never let THE MAN control your immunity, well it’s a fucking good thing their parents probably got them the polio vaccine. You can say what you want about all the stuff they pump into veins, I happen to enjoy children not dying. ALL GLORY TO THE HERD IMMUNITY.

  23. Andie
    Andie December 29, 2011 at 4:44 pm |

    If I am not vaccinated against a disease and I become a carrier, and you and I are in the same room… if you’re vaccinated against it, what does it matter?

    Except that if you get enough people who think this way, then guess what…?everyone is relying on everyone else to be pro-active. I don’t have to get vaccinated, because everyone else probably is.

    Well, probably is why some diseases like smallpox and tuberculosis are making comebacks.

    Also, what librarygoose said.

  24. Andie
    Andie December 29, 2011 at 4:45 pm |

    Grrr. Not liking this new quoting method. I miss the quote button. I can’t be trusted to remember to close tags on my own.

  25. librarygoose
    librarygoose December 29, 2011 at 4:53 pm |

    I don’t have to get vaccinated, because everyone else probably is.

    Yeah, what people who don’t vaccinate don’t seem to understand is that they are just as dependent on the herd immunity. You sure can choose not to get Jr. vaccinated, but be mindful that Jr. isn’t getting small pox or whooping cough because all his little friends are vaccinated. Jr. doesn’t have magic fucking immunity.

  26. Stephanie
    Stephanie December 29, 2011 at 4:58 pm |

    I get my kids vaccinated, but with diseases such as pertussis making a comeback, it’s not always enough. My youngest had what I strongly suspect was pertussis when she was just 6 months old. For those who say vaccines aren’t effective, that’s before an infant is fully protected from it. Found out months later that the doctor should have tested her for it once he was suspicious, but he didn’t, despite that I took her in several times because the cough was so awful and lasted so long. We’re in California, and there was an outbreak at the time, so I don’t know why he didn’t test.

    I got the same awful cough from her, worst cough I’ve every had by far, but my two older, completely vaccinated kids didn’t. It’s been shown that the vaccine does wear off eventually, so I’d say the vaccines worked about right for those that had them current.

  27. mero
    mero December 29, 2011 at 5:03 pm |

    My sisters and I are all totally fine and have never had any problems, and we were consistently less sick than all of our classmates growing up.

    You’re welcome.

    And getting an abortion is a completely different thing than getting vaccinated. Me getting an abortion hurts NOBODY, but me being unvaccinated decreases herd immunity, and can therefore hurt others.

  28. librarygoose
    librarygoose December 29, 2011 at 5:04 pm |

    It’s been shown that the vaccine does wear off eventually,

    That’s why there have been a ton of commercials (where I live at least) reminding parents to get their pertussis booster. The comebacks though, those I blame on people who don’t vaccinate. That’s what happens when the herd immunity (That wording always seemed off to me) is compromised.

  29. Emma
    Emma December 29, 2011 at 5:11 pm |

    Yeah, what people who don’t vaccinate don’t seem to understand is that they are just as dependent on the herd immunity. You sure can choose not to get Jr. vaccinated, but be mindful that Jr. isn’t getting small pox or whooping cough because all his little friends are vaccinated. Jr. doesn’t have magic fucking immunity.

    Ugh, this bothers me so much. People who honestly believe that vaccines are *so* dangerous and unnecessary are perfectly willing to benefit (and let their kids benefit) from children doing something they’d rather forgo themselves. Anti-vaxxers are gross.

    And I say this as someone who works with children who have cancer. Those kids go through hell– including stem cell transplants and GVHD of their own, and being quarantined (imagine being quarantined as a little kid who wants to play and be with your friends, with little understanding of why that is happening or for how long) because they are so immune suppressed. Their families participate in research that may never benefit them but could save a future child, they go through rounds of painful and dangerous treatments sacrificing their future health and fertility if they survive. And for a lot of kids, that’s all interrupted when they’re killed by a simple infection that might not even give a healthy adult the sniffles.

    The health effects for many people who cannot be vaccinated aren’t really as subjective as whether some jerk thinks he seemed healthier than his sheeple classmates– they can be a matter of life or needless death.

  30. Jennifer
    Jennifer December 29, 2011 at 5:17 pm |

    @past… Since they claim to be neither for nor against, you won’t find any such recommendations–their section on autism doesn’t note the Wakefield news, which is a glaring omission. So, again, as I said in my second comment, I’d go to CDC rather than NVIC for info.

    @ATC_K–did you read the post? Your choice does potentially affect other people, because not everyone can get vaccines and sometimes vaccines aren’t totally effective even for those who get them. Diseases that were thought eradicated are coming back because people are choosing not to get vaccinated. So, you can make a choice, but there are consequences for that choice. Your post shows that you don’t understand the potential consequences of your choices for others, and attitudes like yours are probably the main reason why policies can be heavy-handed.

  31. Katie
    Katie December 29, 2011 at 5:19 pm |

    Grrr. Not liking this new quoting method. I miss the quote button. I can’t be trusted to remember to close tags on my own.

    After you paste the text in the comment box, highlight the text you want to quote, then hit the blockquote tag button. It will put the blockquote tags around the highlighted text, rather than just entering the opening tag.

  32. ATC_K
    ATC_K December 29, 2011 at 5:20 pm |

    I find it hilarious that nobody can make a reply to my comment without swearing and calling me names. You’re really proving your point. Lmao.

  33. ATC_K
    ATC_K December 29, 2011 at 5:26 pm |

    @Jennifer – My choice to remain un-vaccinated is MY choice for a reason. I understand that you believe I’m hurting herd immunity and such, but you honestly believe that everyone should make personal health decisions while considering the rest of the U.S. population? I did read the article, and I understand that there are people who wish to get vaccinated and can’t because of medical reasons or not being able to respond to the vaccination, which in turn makes them susceptible to diseases that I as a non-vaccinated-person might carry, but there are thousands of other incurable diseases and those who suffer from those also have no cure to look forward to. If they found a cure for cancer that involved everyone ELSE in the U.S. having to get a certain kind/amount of shots, people with cancer would still die because there are people (like myself) who hold my life and my personal health in higher standards than the life of a stranger with an incurable disease.

  34. PrettyAmiable
    PrettyAmiable December 29, 2011 at 5:42 pm |

    I find it hilarious that nobody can make a reply to my comment without swearing and calling me names. You’re really proving your point. Lmao.

    The only point of any of your comments is “I’m a selfish asshole.” What exactly do you want people to respond to? We agree. Good point. You suck.

  35. librarygoose
    librarygoose December 29, 2011 at 5:44 pm |

    If they found a cure for cancer that involved everyone ELSE in the U.S. having to get a certain kind/amount of shots, people with cancer would still die because there are people (like myself) who hold my life and my personal health in higher standards than the life of a stranger with an incurable disease.

    but according to your fake situation, it is curable and you’re an asshole. I don’t care what fucking asshole reasons you have to run around playing Typhoid Mary, you aren’t less of an asshole. FUCK YOU.

  36. visionary
    visionary December 29, 2011 at 5:49 pm |

    ATC_K, I promise not to swear.

    Yes, if you are unvaccinated and a carrier for some disease, and I am vaccinated against the same disease and otherwise healthy, and we are sitting next together on a train or plane, I will likely not get the disease.

    However, if we are on the same plane and this time I am an elderly woman with a slightly immunocompromised system compared to what I had when I was younger, I am at a higher risk for getting this disease from you.

    What if on the next leg of my trip I was a younger individual with (pick one: cancer, HIV/AIDS, pregnancy, significant pulmonary or cardiovascular disease, autoimmune disease on immunosuppressives, diabetes mellitus — all these things make me more susceptible for infection and some decrease my ability to handle live vaccines)? I am at a higher risk for getting this disease from you.

    Or suppose I was in fact a healthy young woman, but on my lap is my little newborn. He is at higher risk for getting this disease from you. How strong are you to fight off this disease? How strong do you think he is in comparison?

    Can you tell what condition I have just by looking at me?
    Are you able or willing to change your seat, or your flight, to prevent me from getting sick?
    What happens when you, as a carrier, go home to hug your unvaccinated child? What happens when they go to school the next day, or daycare, or grandma’s house?

    The risk of disability or death to any individual from vaccination is extremely small. The benefits to that same individual AND their society are extremely large. Millions have been vaccinated with relatively low rates of adverse effects – one of the most successful interventions in all of medicine, modern or otherwise.

    Do you think smallpox just went away by itself?

  37. ATC_K
    ATC_K December 29, 2011 at 5:50 pm |

    Any sympathy I may have had for un-vaccinable people has gone completely out the window with your attitude. I’m not sad that I’m risking your life. Not a tiny bit. The world may actually be better without someone like you running around guilting people for making a personal choice that you don’t happen to like. That whole “land of the free” thing must bug you, doesn’t it?

    I don’t get vaccinated. Boo hoo. That’s my choice. As a selfish asshole. Which I will gladly admit to being, so it doesn’t really bother me to be called that. You’re lying if you say you’re not a selfish asshole, too, asking the rest of the world to go get poked with needles because you don’t want to get sick.

  38. visionary
    visionary December 29, 2011 at 5:53 pm |

    I guess the bigger question is, can you live with yourself knowing that you made the decision to put yourself, your family, and the most vulnerable of us at risk?

  39. PrettyAmiable
    PrettyAmiable December 29, 2011 at 5:54 pm |

    I’m fully vaccinated because I’m NOT a whiny, self-involved asshole. You’re welcome.

  40. MFS
    MFS December 29, 2011 at 5:57 pm |

    I don’t get vaccinated. Boo hoo. That’s my choice. As a selfish asshole. Which I will gladly admit to being, so it doesn’t really bother me to be called that. You’re lying if you say you’re not a selfish asshole, too, asking the rest of the world to go get poked with needles because you don’t want to get sick.

    Your parents won’t get you vaccinated because you’re a precious snowflake, but they let you on to the internet without supervision? I wouldn’t let an 8 year old do that.

  41. visionary
    visionary December 29, 2011 at 5:58 pm |

    fine ATC_K, I guess you have answered that question already – you are willing to make others sick in order to avoid vaccinating yourself.

    I guess I don’t understand then why you are willing to make yourself sick with any of these disease in order to avoid vaccinating yourself. Surely you know you are not the only one who feels the way you do – you guys are putting each other at risk.

    You are willing to put your children at risk? Really? What if you lived in an area with poor vaccination rates and herd immunity is not much a given? Would you reconsider vaccinating then?

    Honestly, I’m curious.

  42. librarygoose
    librarygoose December 29, 2011 at 6:00 pm |

    I don’t get vaccinated. Boo hoo. That’s my choice. As a selfish asshole. Which I will gladly admit to being, so it doesn’t really bother me to be called that. You’re lying if you say you’re not a selfish asshole, too, asking the rest of the world to go get poked with needles because you don’t want to get sick.

    Not just me. Infants who can’t be immunized because of their age, or the immune-compromised people like the article mentions. And how dare I ask that people get relatively harmless injections that will aid them and the people around them?? I mean, it’s like I want you to kill your puppy too:( Land of the free doesn’t mean the right to harm others, which can be done with refusing immunizations.

    PS. You think the world would be better without people like me? Well, fucking wish harder, because people like me feed on idiocy and spite. It may be a toxic diet but fuck if I won’t live forever just to make you slightly less comfortable on your high horse.

  43. pedestrian
    pedestrian December 29, 2011 at 6:03 pm |

    Go ahead, skip vaccination. Your choice. I support it. When you give my kid measles, however, I should be able to take every last penny you have. Consequences.

  44. Kristen J.
    Kristen J. December 29, 2011 at 6:04 pm |

    Sure, don’t get vaxed. That’s cool. Just don’t try to share the public spaces, because those of us who did (or couldn’t) have paid to make those spaces safe. You’re a walking tragedy of the commons and I vote we solve it by excluding the abusers.

  45. Chataya
    Chataya December 29, 2011 at 6:07 pm |

    ATC_K: So you’re willing to kill people to avoid a couple of needle sticks? Wow…just wow.

    Although I do strongly suspect troll on this.

  46. ATC_K
    ATC_K December 29, 2011 at 6:07 pm |

    I think you mistake my whiny self-involved asshole-ness as a “thank you”?? By staying non-vaccinated I understand the risk I’m taking for getting one of the diseases that they vaccinate against. Fully aware. Even expecting a disease! I don’t really care if you’re vaccinated or not. I don’t believe it’s doing me any favors that you are, but I can understand the logic behind why you would think it is a favor to me. I understand herd immunity, but I think the amount of medicine that our culture is so dependent on is ridiculous. I think there are valid alternatives to a lot of the medicines that are out there, including vaccinations. That’s just where I stand, and because of that, I am risking getting a disease that is “preventable”.

    I don’t refuse vaccinations as a conscious decision to FUCK OTHER PEOPLE OVER like you seem to take it. Beyond that, the other millions of non-vaccinated people are probably not making a determined effort to fuck you over, either.

    It’s very nice up here on my high horse, thank you. It’s funny that you say you could aim to exist to make me miserable when, without trying, I’m potentially putting your life in danger on a daily basis. Ha. Irony.

    @Pedestrian – The logic is a little off there, not sure why you should get financial compensation for the fact that your kid was born a little different and I ABSTAINED from something. Maybe a little different if an actual DELIBERATE ACTION was the direct and sole cause of the measles, but if that ever comes to pass, you will have a very difficult time proving even negligence on a non-vaccinated person’s part.

    @Kristen – I enjoy coughing in public spaces. Without covering my mouth. I pay to make to spaces safe, too. You forget that I pay taxes just like you do? I have every right to be in a public place, but maybe you need to look up the word “public”.

  47. librarygoose
    librarygoose December 29, 2011 at 6:08 pm |

    Although I do strongly suspect troll on this.

    Me too, but I too weak to resist.

  48. PrettyAmiable
    PrettyAmiable December 29, 2011 at 6:09 pm |

    I don’t believe it’s doing me any favors that you are,

    Because you’re too dumb to understand the science? I don’t doubt it. You’re welcome, again!

  49. librarygoose
    librarygoose December 29, 2011 at 6:10 pm |

    It’s funny that you say you could aim to exist to make me miserable when, without trying, I’m potentially putting your life in danger on a daily basis. Ha. Irony.

    Everyone needs a hobby and life is short.*

    *especially with assholes like you around.

  50. Kristen J.
    Kristen J. December 29, 2011 at 6:12 pm |

    You should probably look up Tragedy of the Commons since you think “taxes” are the only ways public spaces are maintained. Pro Tip: If someone uses a term you don’t know, google it!

  51. ATC_K
    ATC_K December 29, 2011 at 6:13 pm |

    So anyone who has an opinion that is glaringly different is automatically a troll? This is why this “herd” word has been so appealing to you all. Think like one, act like one.

    No opinions that haven’t been spoon-fed, here! Not in our house. No. No no. Think different? No no. Try to form my own opinion by only reading extremely biased articles in favor of what I’ve always been taught? Yes, sounds delightful!

  52. Jicklet
    Jicklet December 29, 2011 at 6:13 pm |

    My uncle. My grandparents. In another 3 weeks (presumably), my newborn twin nieces. I don’t get vaccinated for myself. Then again, I don’t visit these people when I’ve got so much as the sniffles.

    I also wash my hands or use hand sanitizer as often as possible when sick, and avoid going out in public the best that I can, because, you know, other people.

    I’m not sad that I’m risking your life. Not a tiny bit. The world may actually be better without someone like you running around guilting people for making a personal choice that you don’t happen to like.

    Wow. Just wow.

  53. ATC_K
    ATC_K December 29, 2011 at 6:18 pm |

    *sigh* Vaccinating is going to be one of those things that people (including myself) will debate over endlessly. And each party always thinks they’re more informed and made the right choice and each party is very vigilant about their stance. Same with the war in Iraq and stem cell research and drug testing people on welfare and abortion and rape. Everyone has an opinion that they’ll jump in and defend. Not sure why I still try since neither side ever manages to convince the other, but maybe it’s because you vaccinated people are just so darn amusing.

  54. librarygoose
    librarygoose December 29, 2011 at 6:19 pm |

    No opinions that haven’t been spoon-fed, here! Not in our house. No. No no. Think different? No no.

    You caught us you sly witted fuck. So, fuck right off then.

  55. Jicklet
    Jicklet December 29, 2011 at 6:25 pm |

    Seriously. Obviously none of the pro-vaccination people understand the scientific method, and they all disagree with your logical, well-researched, grounded in reality point of view because they blindly accept whatever we’re told.

    There’s a difference in disagreeing based on idealogy vs. based on facts.

    Vaccination is established, grounded science. Anti-vaccination is mostly ideology with a smattering of random facts thrown in here and there. If the anti-vaxers could come up with an equivalent body of knowledge, they’d have better luck arguing their points.

  56. Kristen J.
    Kristen J. December 29, 2011 at 6:26 pm |

    Yeah, its just mindless bickering rather than a structural problem analyzed by Nobel Prize winning economists. You are profitting from a public good (herd immunity) that you choose not to pay (by getting vaxed) to maintain at the cost of people dying. This isn’t debateable.

  57. PrettyAmiable
    PrettyAmiable December 29, 2011 at 6:31 pm |

    And each party always thinks they’re more informed

    You’ve already demonstrated you know nothing about science or economy, so this makes me laugh.

  58. HSnerd
    HSnerd December 29, 2011 at 6:47 pm |

    Well this is a fun conversation. I work in public health and there is SO much misinformation about vaccines and viral illnesses out there. Yes, all vaccines have a small percentage of people who will develop adverse reactions, but this can be minimized by not vaccinating susceptible people (i.e. those with certain conditions). Otherwise, vaccines are very safe!

    Re: Protecting the community, THIS is why vaccines were invented! We live in a society where we don’t have to see smallpox and polio and tetanus everywhere because of vaccines, and it’s hard to imagine how much better off we are. Due to “Personal belief exemptions” we’re now seeing outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases like Measles and Pertussis. For those who are eligible but choose not to vaccinate – maybe you don’t care about getting a rash, but what you fail to understand is that Measles is one of the MOST contagious illnesses out there – others can contract it just by entering a room you were in, even after you’ve left! Infants under one year can’t be vaccinated so they’re susceptible, and the scariest thing about Measles isn’t the rash and illness you get initially, it’s the potential complications later on. A small percentage of people who develop Measles as infants go on to develop what’s called SSPE about 10 years later, and this causes a slow and excruciating death and is untreatable. It’s these serious complications of infectious diseases that are one of the biggest issues here. By getting vaccinated you’re not just protecting yourself, you’re protecting diseases from taking hold in society and causing serious illness in infants, immunocompromised people, and even the average, healthy person who would develop a serious complication from a virus (another example – Mumps virus and brain infections/encehpalitis). We forget this now that these complications are seen so rarely, but as vaccine rates drop off we see more and more morbidity from treatable causes.

    So yes, do your research and know what you’re putting into your body, know that there are risks, but also consider the fact that you could be saving lives just by taking on a little risk for yourself.

  59. Chataya
    Chataya December 29, 2011 at 6:54 pm |

    I ABSTAINED from something. Maybe a little different if an actual DELIBERATE ACTION was the direct and sole cause of the measles, but if that ever comes to pass, you will have a very difficult time proving even negligence on a non-vaccinated person’s part.

    See, I work at a medical clinic. I know that you cannot simply abstain from vaccinations. Schools from around 6th grade through college require vaccination or exemption paperwork, as do many employers. It takes work, deliberate action, on your part to avoid vaccination. The vast majority of the time it takes far less effort to get vaccinated than it does to not be vaccinated.

    Case in point: Recently two people I know had a three month long fight with their employer (a hospital) over the flu vaccine. The hospital required it for their employees every flu season due to the risk to their patients. These two did not want to get it. Cue three months worth of letter writing, exemption forms, and threats to quit. In the end, they gave up and took the shots because it was easier than not getting them.

  60. Justamblingalong
    Justamblingalong December 29, 2011 at 7:07 pm |

    “Justamblingalong: except the autism/vaccine link was fabricated by Andrew Wakefield. And while I understand the desire to want a cause or something easy to understand about the etiology of autism, quacks, celebrity liars, and charlatans have played on that relentlessly.”

    Evil Fizz: That’s basically what I was trying to say. I think there are a lot of genuinely upset families, and then a bunch of people in it for the fame and money. I’m sorry I appeared to minimize the latter. (PS. Is there a better way to quote? I tried and it got all… squishy).

    ATc_K: Ignoring your general ignorance, which other people have pretty much exposed, I really am curious why you put rape on your list of things that have no objective right or wrong, but can be endlessly debated. Oh wait, bet I can guess.

  61. ATC_K
    ATC_K December 29, 2011 at 7:09 pm |

    …I signed a form. It’s not as extensive as you may think. There are tons of forms to sign when going into school.

    I don’t know why two anti-vaccine individuals would even work in a medical facility since everyone knows you have to be up on your shots to work in healthcare.

    Regardless, none of the points anyone here has tried to get across have made any impact whatsoever. I still have zero desire to get vaccinated, and anyone else who is anti-vaccine probably hasn’t change their mind either. Until vaccines are mandated (meaning no waivers and no exceptions), I’m not getting them. Call me an idiot all you want, but stuff like this historically comes and goes in waves. We’ll have an outbreak and then pharmaceutical companies will make billions to fix it, people will die (LIKE THEY ALL EVENTUALLY DO ANYWAY), and there’ll be a huge hype. Then… 10, 20 years later… no one will remember… and there’ll be another wave of sickness. Calling me selfish and stupid doesn’t convert the rest of the millions of people who are also anti-vaccine.

  62. ATC_K
    ATC_K December 29, 2011 at 7:12 pm |

    “Oh wait, bet I can guess.”

    ^^ Is this you thinking I’m a rape victim who is deathly hurt by what you are “guessing”? Is this you trying to join in on the bully bandwagon? Because you suck at it. Try again. Call me fat or something.

  63. Vigée
    Vigée December 29, 2011 at 7:17 pm |

    Call me an idiot all you want, but stuff like this historically comes and goes in waves. We’ll have an outbreak and then pharmaceutical companies will make billions to fix it, people will die (LIKE THEY ALL EVENTUALLY DO ANYWAY), and there’ll be a huge hype. Then… 10, 20 years later… no one will remember… and there’ll be another wave of sickness. Calling me selfish and stupid doesn’t convert the rest of the millions of people who are also anti-vaccine.

    So as people forget the horror of these preventable diseases, they choose not to be vaccinated until there is a major outbreak, then vaccination will come back in fashion until the same kind of dipshits do the same kind of thing 10 or 20 years later? Wouldn’t it be great if you could just weed yourselves out of the population without taking innocent bystanders with you? Yes, yes it would.

  64. librarygoose
    librarygoose December 29, 2011 at 7:17 pm |

    people will die (LIKE THEY ALL EVENTUALLY DO ANYWAY)

    So why not die at 35? It was good enough for the settlers. What are you some sort of non-patriot? Well then your children deserve to die of a completely preventable illness.

  65. ATC_K
    ATC_K December 29, 2011 at 7:23 pm |

    Awwwww, not the widdle kids.

    Sickness is a fact of life. Sickness weeds out the weak. Medicine keeps the weak here and repopulating, creating sick babies who need vaccines to not get sick. Ta da.

  66. PrettyAmiable
    PrettyAmiable December 29, 2011 at 7:23 pm |

    Regardless, none of the points anyone here has tried to get across have made any impact whatsoever.

    You mean scientific evidence and rational thinking have had no impact on someone who has demonstrated no intelligence whatsoever?

    I’m shocked!

    Shorter: No one cares.

  67. ATC_K
    ATC_K December 29, 2011 at 7:26 pm |

    Pretty sure you do care if you keep coming back to comment on how much of an idiot you think I am because I don’t find any of your “evidence” convincing and won’t join your cult-like mentality.

    Shorter: Bitter you lost.

  68. Jadey
    Jadey December 29, 2011 at 7:29 pm |

    Awwwww, not the widdle kids.

    Sickness is a fact of life. Sickness weeds out the weak. Medicine keeps the weak here and repopulating, creating sick babies who need vaccines to not get sick. Ta da.

    Of course it was only a matter of time before this conversation got around to eugenics. Colour me shocked that that’s where you’re coming from. Useless.

  69. PrettyAmiable
    PrettyAmiable December 29, 2011 at 7:31 pm |

    Don’t be silly. I like playing with trolls. I imagine you have long red hair shaped up to a point with a jeweled belly button in the shape of a star. Plus, it’s fun watching you get all wily.

    Also, you’re not an idiot because you disagree with us. You’re an idiot because you have made scientific claims no reputable study supports.

  70. librarygoose
    librarygoose December 29, 2011 at 7:32 pm |

    Sickness is a fact of life. Sickness weeds out the weak. Medicine keeps the weak here and repopulating, creating sick babies who need vaccines to not get sick. Ta da.

    Called it: Trolling asshole. Fuck off.

  71. ATC_K
    ATC_K December 29, 2011 at 7:36 pm |

    @Jill – Why not? Sounds like the treatments are pretty awful.

    Hope none of you have ever received donor blood or know someone who has. You’d probably hate to get mine which is all clean and full of naturally cultivated antibodies. And I’ve donated every 8 weeks for over 6 years. Oops. And you disliked me when all you thought I did was hypothetically carry diseases around.

  72. librarygoose
    librarygoose December 29, 2011 at 7:39 pm |

    And you disliked me when all you thought I did was hypothetically carry diseases around.

    I’m pretty sure you could routinely give kidneys to sick orphans and I’d still think you’re an asshole.

  73. ATC_K
    ATC_K December 29, 2011 at 7:41 pm |

    Ha. That was a good one. Do it again. :)

  74. PrettyAmiable
    PrettyAmiable December 29, 2011 at 7:41 pm |

    …Do you think our own antibodies disappear when we get blood transfusions? Do you think blood isn’t screened before it’s used for transfusions? Why is this relevant? Seriously, where did you learn about biology?

    Dance for me, ATC_K!

  75. ATC_K
    ATC_K December 29, 2011 at 7:43 pm |

    *tappity tappity tap tap* Ta daaaaaa. *jazz hands*

  76. librarygoose
    librarygoose December 29, 2011 at 7:45 pm |

    Medicine keeps the weak here and repopulating, creating sick babies who need vaccines to not get sick. Ta da.

    You know babies aren’t born sick, and that’s not why they get immunized…right? That’s not how immunizations work. They’re not cures, they are preventatives.

  77. Nobby Stiles
    Nobby Stiles December 29, 2011 at 7:45 pm |

    I don’t get vaccinated. Boo hoo. That’s my choice. As a selfish asshole. Which I will gladly admit to being, so it doesn’t really bother me to be called that.

    Like we should feel sorry for your idiotic ass when you lose your pay for a year. I fucking love the idea of you losing pay, it makes me laugh my ass off. I wish I lived in the US so I could laugh in your face, though ignorant imbeciles like you are part of the reason I left Kansas for Aberdeen.

  78. Kristen J.
    Kristen J. December 29, 2011 at 7:47 pm |

    Ah eugenics…fabulous…then I suggest we expose you (under quarantine conditions) to some of the illness you refuse to be vaxed for and see if you’re “fit” enough to hang with those of us who are smart and compassionate enough to be vaxed.

  79. ATC_K
    ATC_K December 29, 2011 at 7:47 pm |

    Aaaand kick ball change, kick ball change…

  80. Nobby Stiles
    Nobby Stiles December 29, 2011 at 7:48 pm |

    @ATC_K

    Pretty sure you do care if you keep coming back to comment on how much of an idiot you think I am because I don’t find any of your “evidence” convincing and won’t join your cult-like mentality.

    You’re the one with the cult-like mentality, mate. (Ooops, apologies for the typo)

  81. ATC_K
    ATC_K December 29, 2011 at 7:49 pm |

    Oh, compassionate? That’s the wrong word to describe so many of you commenting here. So the wrong word.

  82. PrettyAmiable
    PrettyAmiable December 29, 2011 at 7:50 pm |

    Why Aberdeen, of all places? As someone who spent two years in STL and assumes KS is roughly the same as MO, I approve your move, but Aberdeen has to be so effing cold all the time.

  83. Nobby Stiles
    Nobby Stiles December 29, 2011 at 7:52 pm |

    Why Aberdeen, of all places? As someone who spent two years in STL and assumes KS is roughly the same as MO, I approve your move, but Aberdeen has to be so effing cold all the time.

    A bloke.

  84. librarygoose
    librarygoose December 29, 2011 at 7:54 pm |

    Oh, compassionate? That’s the wrong word to describe so many of you commenting here. So the wrong word.

    Compassionate in no way means joining in with your ego stroking, self centered, Libertarian asshole mentality.

  85. Nobby Stiles
    Nobby Stiles December 29, 2011 at 7:56 pm |

    …and Aberdeen is pretty cold, but the summers are awesome, the beach is incredible, and I love all the granite architechture. Worse than the cold are the seagulls (I’m being told to add that the football (soccer) team is embarrassingly bad as well!)

  86. ATC_K
    ATC_K December 29, 2011 at 7:56 pm |

    Yikes. Well, good luck with your vaccination campaign. I’ll make sure to come back and let you know how my shots went if vaccines ever become 100% mandated.

  87. PrettyAmiable
    PrettyAmiable December 29, 2011 at 7:57 pm |

    A freezing bloke!

  88. Nobby Stiles
    Nobby Stiles December 29, 2011 at 7:58 pm |

    Good luck with the douche of the year competition, I’m sure you’ll win in all categories. (Of all things American I think I most miss the word ‘douche’)

  89. librarygoose
    librarygoose December 29, 2011 at 7:58 pm |

    Worse than the cold are the seagulls

    Yeah seagulls suck.

  90. Nobby Stiles
    Nobby Stiles December 29, 2011 at 7:59 pm |

    to be clear, the word- not the product.

  91. PrettyAmiable
    PrettyAmiable December 29, 2011 at 8:00 pm |

    Did we start a vaccination campaign? What’s our platform?

  92. librarygoose
    librarygoose December 29, 2011 at 8:01 pm |

    A bed of needles.

  93. PrettyAmiable
    PrettyAmiable December 29, 2011 at 8:06 pm |

    ZING

  94. smmo
    smmo December 29, 2011 at 8:07 pm |

    Oh LORD. Anti vaccine nut.

    Regardless, none of the points anyone here has tried to get across have made any impact whatsoever. I still have zero desire to get vaccinated, and anyone else who is anti-vaccine probably hasn’t change their mind either. Until vaccines are mandated (meaning no waivers and no exceptions), I’m not getting them.

    I have zero desire to pay my taxes, yes I do it anyway. It’s that whole pesky “being a decent member of society” thing.

    Why do I suspect that if something really scary came your way, you’d be the first in line for the vaccine?

    Run along and read a Ron Paul newsletter now.

  95. Safiya Outlines
    Safiya Outlines December 29, 2011 at 8:17 pm |

    When I saw this post had 90+ comments, I thought “Someone must be trolling” and look! I was right!

    Nobby Stiles, I love your name, it makes me smile whenever I see it. But the SPL is generally crap ;p

  96. EG
    EG December 29, 2011 at 8:24 pm |

    I believe that there was a measles outbreak in California recently due to one unvaccinated little boy coming back from Europe with the illness. He managed to give it five not-yet-vaccinated infants in his pediatrician’s waiting room, all of whom had to be hospitalized.

    But go on. Keep telling yourself that it doesn’t affect anyone but yourself. And immuno-compromised people. And immigrants from places that don’t have vaccination programs. And infants. But you know, fuck them, right?

    “Vials of unnecessary junk,” my ass. Those vials are why a school for the deaf in the hometown of a friend’s father was closed down–children were no longer losing their hearing to mumps; stop and think about that for a minute. He wasn’t growing up in a big city, but enough children lost their hearing to mumps that they filled an entire school. And sure, whooping cough sounds quaint and harmless, right up until you hear the sound of a child choking to death on its own spittle, as a doctor I once knew who had spent some time working outside the first world said to me. And you know, if your kid turns out to have asthma, why would you want to save her the extra lingering suffering of a respiratory flu? It’s not like she’ll be hung up in bed for weeks, and end up with a cold-weather cough that is still with her twelve years later. Oh, wait, it’s exactly like that.

    My stepfather, when he was six, knew a boy a couple years older who died of lockjaw, a singularly horrible way to go. But don’t bother getting yourself or your kids vaccinated against tetanus. I’m sure that’ll never happen again.

    Vaccinations are a victim of their own success. Our collective memory of families panicking as they watched children all around them succumb to polio has faded.

    People who refuse to vaccinate themselves or their healthy kids aren’t subhuman. They’re not even very interesting. They’re just ignorant, selfish, anti-science fools, no different from the climate-change deniers.

  97. Nobby Stiles
    Nobby Stiles December 29, 2011 at 8:37 pm |

    Nobby Stiles, I love your name, it makes me smile whenever I see it. But the SPL is generally crap ;p

    Yes, acquired that nickname here in the UK…was a bit shocked when I saw a pic of the real Nobby Stiles, but my last name is Stiles so it was inevitable.

  98. Kristen J.
    Kristen J. December 29, 2011 at 8:38 pm |

    They’re just ignorant, selfish, anti-science fools, no different from the climate-change deniers.

    Except they recklessly endanger the lives of others. I think they’re more analogous of them as drunk drivers.

  99. EG
    EG December 29, 2011 at 9:12 pm |

    When you give my kid measles, however, I should be able to take every last penny you have. Consequences.

    Fuck that. One of these assholes gives my kid measles, and I want him arrested and charged with any and everything that can stick–from endangering the welfare of a child to assault to poisoning. As far as I’m concerned, there’s no moral difference between knowingly refusing a vaccination and then getting someone sick and sending someone anthrax in the mail.

    I don’t believe it’s doing me any favors that you are

    So true. We just don’t have epidemics of measles and mumps and polio and whooping cough any longer because of magic. You see, in the 1950s, a good fairy waved a magic wand over the first world, and all these diseases magically vanished, never to appear again. That’s totally what happened.

    Sickness is a fact of life. Sickness weeds out the weak. Medicine keeps the weak here and repopulating, creating sick babies who need vaccines to not get sick. Ta da.

    “Sick babies who need vaccines to not get sick”? No. Healthy babies need vaccines not to get sick. That’s…how vaccines work. If you’re already sick, it’s too late. But sure, I’d love to see the person who gets a puncture wound from a nail with tetanus on it and then isn’t “weeded out” by lockjaw.

    I’d far rather have a population of “weak” people who remember history and understand logic, evidence, and the scientific method, then physically strong dolts. Humans didn’t become the post powerful species on the planet due to our physical strength and resilience. We’re all pretty weak, come to that. We wield the power we do because we’re smart enough to figure out things that keep us alive, like vaccinations.

    You’d probably hate to get mine which is all clean and full of naturally cultivated antibodies. And I’ve donated every 8 weeks for over 6 years. Oops. And you disliked me when all you thought I did was hypothetically carry diseases around.

    Oh, I think you’re a loathsome moron no matter what you do. And…”full of naturally cultivated antibodies”? What do you think the antibodies the immune system creates in response to vaccination are? Tiny plastic robots? You don’t have antibodies to measles, mumps, polio, etc. unless you’ve had the diseases or you’ve had the vaccinations. So you don’t have antibodies of any sort, naturally cultivated or not. I have far more antibodies than you.

    Your blood is immaterial; antibodies are manufactured by bone marrow. You really don’t know jack shit about human biology. I suppose I shouldn’t blame you…it’s not your fault. I suppose that your parents knew that if you ever actually learned anything about how the human body works, you’d realize how little they valued your life.

    You confirm every single thing I’ve ever thought about anti-vaxers: ill-informed, arrogant, selfish, absolutely ignorant about human biology.

  100. EG
    EG December 29, 2011 at 9:17 pm |

    Except they recklessly endanger the lives of others. I think they’re more analogous of them as drunk drivers.

    Good point, Kristen. Drunk drivers are a good analogy. But at least they have the excuse of being drunk to account for their poor judgment. In some ways, I have more respect for making a bad decision because you’re temporarily impaired in your judgment than I do for deliberately making a bad decision because you’re a fucking idiot who willfully chooses not to understand how scientific evidence works.

  101. PrettyAmiable
    PrettyAmiable December 29, 2011 at 9:33 pm |

    I suppose that your parents knew that if you ever actually learned anything about how the human body works, you’d realize how little they valued your life.

    hahahahhahahaha ouch. But true.

  102. Politicalguineapig
    Politicalguineapig December 29, 2011 at 9:52 pm |

    One thing: Even if you’ve had the vaccines, get the boosters. Pertusis (whooping cough) wears off in about twenty years, and I’m sure that some others wear off too, though I’m not sure about their ‘half-life.’
    One thing that bugs me about all these discussion is that it draws people who want to show off their ignorance, and apparently don’t read much. Anyone ever read Little House on the Prairie, Little Women, Eight Cousins, or The Mirror Crack’d? And on the Frontline documentary I saw one woman refer to Hepatitis B as a sexually transmitted disease-it’s not.

  103. Justamblingalong
    Justamblingalong December 29, 2011 at 11:06 pm |

    Is this you trying to join in on the bully bandwagon? Because you suck at it. Try again. Call me fat or something.

    ATC__K: You can call me a bully all you want, but you didn’t answer my question. You put ‘rape’ on a list of things you thought could be ‘endlessly debated and had no right or wrong answer.’ That is wrong regardless of what identities you have, or your experiences. You don’t get to tell one survivor that they can’t call you out on your oppressive bullshit because you’re a survivor too.

    Or, you know. Troll.

  104. Jadey
    Jadey December 29, 2011 at 11:30 pm |

    Oh, EG, the things you do with, you know, facts. I might have to propose.

  105. Kristen J.
    Kristen J. December 29, 2011 at 11:54 pm |

    Good point, Kristen. Drunk drivers are a good analogy. But at least they have the excuse of being drunk to account for their poor judgment. In some ways, I have more respect for making a bad decision because you’re temporarily impaired in your judgment than I do for deliberately making a bad decision because you’re a fucking idiot who willfully chooses not to understand how scientific evidence works.

    Good point…maybe randomly firing a gun into the air in a crowded area?

  106. DonnaL
    DonnaL December 29, 2011 at 11:57 pm |

    Thanks so much to EG and everyone else. I so despise people like this in general. But ATC_K pretty much takes the prize.

    Zie has to be a troll, right? Like Non-Believer? Nobody could possibly be that open about their contempt for other people?

    Personally, it wouldn’t make me at all sad to see someone like that step on a rusty nail. I wouldn’t warn hir. Just like I wouldn’t piss on hir if zie were on fire. (If I could do that sort of thing anymore in the first place.)

  107. EG
    EG December 30, 2011 at 1:04 am |

    Even if you’ve had the vaccines, get the boosters.

    I cannot second this hard enough. Apparently, we should all be getting tetanus booster shots every ten years, but nobody had ever mentioned this to me. Do you know when you do not find that out for the first time? When you have stayed up until 4 in the morning reading and watching TV and you are tired and want to get some sleep, and you put on your slippers and step down on a staple that has found its way into your slipper, straightened itself out, and managed to stand up on end, driving it straight and deep into your big toe. That is not a nice time to find out, especially if you’re don’t know when you last got a tetanus booster, but you’re pretty sure it was before you went through puberty. Just, you know, in case you were wondering how I spent my Saturday night a couple weeks ago.

    Jadey:

    Oh, EG, the things you do with, you know, facts. I might have to propose.

    A shared regard for facts and the scientific method is the beginning of a beautiful friendship!

  108. Politicalguineapig
    Politicalguineapig December 30, 2011 at 1:31 am |

    EG: God, that’s terrible. Thanks for reminding me about that, though, I think I’m about due for my booster.
    I should probably explain what the books I cited have to do with the topic, so here goes. Minor spoilers, for those who haven’t read the books.
    Little House on the Prairie: Laura’s oldest sister goes blind due to measles.
    Eight Cousins: Mac, one of the cousins, contracted measles. He has weak eyesight and very fragile health as a result.
    Little Women: Beth gets scarlet fever and dies.
    The Mirror Crack’d: A pregnant actress contracted rubella from one of her fans. Her son was born mentally disabled and was confined to an instituition where he died. The actress never recovered from the shock.

    Yes, I’m aware that these books are fictional, but most of them, especially Little House on the Prairie were based on people the author knew. Or on the author’s family life.

    And the anti-vaxxers want these diseases brought back? They want their kids to be blinded or deafened by preventive diseases? Or to bury their kids at really young ages? Or, assuming their children survive to adulthood, can they live with knowing that their child will never have children because they decided not to vaccinate?

    I’d also like to point out that given the attitudes anti-vaxxers have towards kids with autism, and the things some parents of kids with autism put their kids through, these people definitely aren’t people I’d trust near any disabled child.

  109. abrasive
    abrasive December 30, 2011 at 1:50 am |

    Neither me nor my first child can cope very well with vaccines. We’ve both ended up in the hospital for serious allergic reactions. My daughter is going to be on a modified vaccination schedule to weed out which ones may or may not cause a problem. So please for the love of god, if you can tolerate them GET THEM. I don’t want to get sick because I can’t handle vacs just because you won’t.

  110. aboat
    aboat December 30, 2011 at 1:59 am |

    Hi all,

    Thanks for this post Jill. I had never thought about it from this angle before. It is definitely something to think about. I have so far chosen not to vaccinate my children. I may revisit this in the future. It was a big decision for me, and one that I am still looking into. There is an incredible amount of conflicting information (even discounting the autism controversy). I totally get the idea of social responsibility and I don’t like the idea of relying on other children enduring what my own children have not had to. I am not entirely sure though on how the vaccinations actually affect the immune system as a whole (although i think selectively vaccinating could mitigate this…say for example, not getting a flu vaccination, but getting a polio vaccination).

    There is also the point that many experts agree that the introduction of basic hygiene that wiped out or almost wiped out many major diseases. Also, as someone that has gone against the grain on a few different issues I have come to find that a lot of the time what we accept as truth is really what a dominant culture or vested interests represent as truth.

    Anyway, I get that this is a controversial topic, but I don’t like the idea of people making parenting decisions based on bullying or social pressure, so hopefully the debate can continue to be constructive : )

  111. librarygoose
    librarygoose December 30, 2011 at 2:09 am |

    There is also the point that many experts agree that the introduction of basic hygiene that wiped out or almost wiped out many major diseases.

    Can you cite some sources so I can read more info for myself?

  112. Brennan
    Brennan December 30, 2011 at 2:10 am |

    Well, that was an entertaining troll. I loved how ze mixed complaints that everyone else is OMG SO MEAN!! with comments about how ze really didn’t give a crap if ze killed someone else’s baby. And the eugenics angle was delightful as always. Maybe we should save some of that for Next Top Troll.

    One thing that stood out to me, though, was hir assertion that hir ideal dystopian no-modern-medicine world would be filled with “strong” people, not like those “weak” babies who need vaccines. Yeah, right. As EG and Politicalguineapig pointed out, beyond the possibility of dying from these diseases, they carry a very real cost in long term health problems for some people. Blindness, deafness, sterility, miscarriage, damage to the heart, scarring on the lungs, brain damage, the list goes on.

  113. thinksnake
    thinksnake December 30, 2011 at 2:13 am |

    Not to mention that some diseases work by overstimulating the immune response, thus leading to disproportionate deaths among the otherwise ‘strong’ population (eg Spanish Flu).

  114. EG
    EG December 30, 2011 at 2:17 am |

    There is also the point that many experts agree that the introduction of basic hygiene that wiped out or almost wiped out many major diseases.

    Basic hygiene had been well achieved by the 1950s, when my parents were contracting measles, mumps, and rubella. It had certainly been understood by the 1980s, when I caught chicken pox from my sister. I was up on my basic hygiene in the 1990s, when I caught the two respiratory flus that set off my previously not-too-serious asthma. Now, even when I take my maintenance meds on time, cold air makes me cough tubercularly, and every time I catch a mild cold, I hack my lungs up congestively for the following three or four weeks. During the first of those bad flus, I had a boyfriend and a roommate, both of whom got the flu vaccine. Neither of them caught my flu. I, of course, had decided that since I was young and strong, I didn’t have to bother, because since when had the flu really hurt anybody?

  115. thinksnake
    thinksnake December 30, 2011 at 2:20 am |

    Perhaps also (yet another) reminder that vaccination WIPED OUT smallpox. This is one of the most amazing medical developments there has been, up there with germ theory.

  116. librarygoose
    librarygoose December 30, 2011 at 2:23 am |

    I, of course, had decided that since I was young and strong, I didn’t have to bother, because since when had the flu really hurt anybody?

    Ha. Reminds me of when I got strep and ignored it till I literally couldn’t eat and nearly couldn’t breathe. My doctor commended me on achieving a color he had never seen before.

  117. aboat
    aboat December 30, 2011 at 2:27 am |

    @librarygoose

    Most of my reading was done a few years ago, so I don’t have a lot of it to hand, but just doing a bit of google this link http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/vac-gen/6mishome.htm#Diseaseshadalready shows that the hygiene argument may be a false one.

    *sigh* looks like it’s back to the drawing board on the to-vaccinate-or-not-to-vaccinate issue for me…

  118. shfree
    shfree December 30, 2011 at 2:32 am |

    “Ha. Reminds me of when I got strep and ignored it till I literally couldn’t eat and nearly couldn’t breathe. My doctor commended me on achieving a color he had never seen before.”

    Strep throat is the thorn in my side. It is the ONE THING that can still knock me on my ass.

    Anyway, topic. Pro-vaccs, though for my 13-year-old girl I want to see some of the longer term effects of the HPV vacc, and how it shakes out. I cast a wary eye at big pharma and the reproductive health of women, and while I will most likely give it to her, I’ve been under a “wait and see” holding pattern, just in case. And personally, given how often I find myself in ERs you would think I would just have them update my tetanus. I was just there YESTERDAY, for fuck’s sake.

  119. EG
    EG December 30, 2011 at 2:43 am |

    Perhaps also (yet another) reminder that vaccination WIPED OUT smallpox.

    Yes. One of the saddest things I have ever read was a piece written by Elizabeth Cavendish Egerton, a woman in the 17th century, about the death of her young daughter from smallpox:

    “My sorrow is great I confess. I am much grieved for the loss of my dear girl Keatty who was as fine a child as could be. She was but a year and ten months old when, by the fatal disease of the smallpox, it was God’s pleasure to take her from me, who spoke anything one bid her, and would call for anything at dinner, and make her mind known at any time [that's my favorite part--she would "maker her mind known at any time." Just like a toddler.], and was kind to all, even to strangers, and had no anger in her. All thoughy she loved them. Her brothers and sisters loved her with a fond love….Never was there so fond a child of a mother.”

    She goes on this heartbreaking mode for a while, ending by writing that when Keatty lay on her deathbed, presumably covered and disfigured by pox, as that is how the disease ran, her mother asked her if she should kiss her–a fair question, as by that stage of the disease, the lightest touch is painful. Keatty answered “yes,” drawing the word out, and then she died.

    It is thanks to vaccination that this is something I do not ever have to fear.

  120. librarygoose
    librarygoose December 30, 2011 at 2:50 am |

    Oh EG, that made me cry.

  121. EG
    EG December 30, 2011 at 3:09 am |

    That’s what it does to me. The worst part is when Egerton writes about how she knows God must have taken her daughter in order to punish her, the mother, for her sins, because Keatty herself was only innocent and brought joy to everyone.

  122. librarygoose
    librarygoose December 30, 2011 at 3:11 am |

    I can’t even imagine that kind of pain.

  123. aboat
    aboat December 30, 2011 at 5:14 am |

    That is such a sad story. And the history of how smallpox affected Native Americans (and many other indigenous populations) is absolutely devastating.

    Something that first got me rethinking my decision not to vaccinate was Annie Dillard’s recollection of the introduction of the polio vaccine in ‘An American Childhood’. She talks about her mother’s almost hysterical obsession with hand-washing etc. When she heard about the vaccine she just burst into tears with relief.

  124. Past my expiration date
    Past my expiration date December 30, 2011 at 7:44 am |

    There’s also Benjamin Franklin, who wrote in his autobiography, “In 1736 I lost one of my sons, a fine boy of four years old, by the small-pox, taken in the common way. I long regretted bitterly, and still regret that I had not given it to him by inoculation. This I mention for the sake of parents who omit that operation, on the supposition that they should never forgive themselves if a child died under it; my example showing that the regret may be the same either way, and that, therefore, the safer should be chosen.” (And inoculation was orders of magnitude more dangerous than vaccination.)

    I am embarrassed to admit that I delayed the MMR vaccine from 15 months to 24 months for my younger daughter because of the weight of anecdotes. At the time, I thought that, although there was no link between the MMR and autism on the population scale, maybe there was for a few rare individuals, too rarely for the studies to pick up, whereas the added risk of getting measles as a result of delaying a vaccine for 9 months was not all that great. My pediatrician put up with this because my younger daughter was getting all of her other vaccines, and my older daughter was on schedule. And, as it turned out, nothing bad happened, as far as I know. But now I do wish the pediatrician had said something like, “Did you know that measles is so infectious that you can get it by being in the same room that somebody who doesn’t even know they have measles yet was in 2 hours ago, and also have you heard of subacute sclerosing panencephalitis?”. I hope I would have changed my mind.

  125. ellid
    ellid December 30, 2011 at 8:58 am |

    ATC_K – I’m a blood donor, and I donate a lot more than you do because I’m one of the 30% of American adults who’s negative for cytomegalovirus. That means my platelets can go to the people with compromised immune systems that you seem to think don’t deserve to live because they’re “weak,” like premature babies, AIDS patients, dialysis patients, and trauma patients who need the cleanest blood products because there isn’t time to check their immune systems before they bleed to death.

    Guess what? I’ve been vaccinated since I was an infant, including the early polio vaccines. So my blood is just swimming with vaccine-induced antibodies to diseases I’ve never had and, thanks to vaccinations, never will…and my local blood bank loves me to death anyway.

    So whether one has been vaccinated or not has nothing to do with whether one can or should donate blood. Try again, my fanatic little friend, and don’t complain when you *do* get a disease that you haven’t been immunized against that’s a permanent deferral. Your choice to risk getting hepatitis, you know.

  126. Adaquinn
    Adaquinn December 30, 2011 at 10:44 am |

    I really can’t say that I understand why anyone would not vaccinate themselves or their children. Vaccination saves lives. Small pox, Polio, chicken pox, the flu, whooping cough these are all diseases that have decimated societies. One of the greatest thins man has ever done was all but erradicate these deseases.

    I’m all for personal choice. But when you say you don’t need to be vaccinated because of herd immunity, then thumb your nose at the people who’s lives DEPEND on that I have to believe you’re just trying to piss people off.

    Not getting your child vaccinated is like not buckling them in when you drive around. It’s like letting them wander around without supervision. 99 percent of the time they’ll be perfectly fine, but will you forgive yourself when that 1 percent happens? Vaccinating your child is protecting your child. It’s as simple as that.

  127. Caperton
    Caperton December 30, 2011 at 11:35 am | *

    ellid – I’m CMV neg, too, and it always gives me a little thrill to donate into “baby bags.” Suck it, yo–I’m saving babies! With my unnatural antibodies! (But then, I’ve also had the full course of the HPV vaccine, which means the babies are going to grow up to have ridiculous amounts of irresponsible sex, as one does.)

  128. Shoshie
    Shoshie December 30, 2011 at 12:39 pm |

    During the first of those bad flus, I had a boyfriend and a roommate, both of whom got the flu vaccine. Neither of them caught my flu. I, of course, had decided that since I was young and strong, I didn’t have to bother, because since when had the flu really hurt anybody?

    That’s how I felt with the swine flu panic, which, of course, happened to be one of those flus to strongly affect people in their 20′s. My friends who a decade or so older got it and were fine. Mr. Shoshie and I got it and were knocked on our asses for over 2 weeks. Now I get nasty bronchitis any time I get a respiratory infection. Thanks, swine flu.

    But, um, really. Get your vaccines. I’ve seen some reasonable discussion about the spacing of vaccines. I’ve seen some reasonable discussion about the age at which vaccines are given. But I have never seen any reasonable discussion that involves people who can tolerate vaccination not receiving vaccines. I don’t even understand.

  129. Politicalguineapig
    Politicalguineapig December 30, 2011 at 12:48 pm |

    Shoshie: I’ve never understood it either. Even if autism was somehow, one in a million chance, linked to vaccines, isn’t it better to have an autistic kid then a dead kid? And what’s so bad about autism, anyway? It’s not like it’s the end of the world. Autistic kids can and do learn stuff, even if it’s at a different pace than their peers.

  130. Donna L
    Donna L December 30, 2011 at 2:41 pm |

    Amen to everything everyone (with one exception) has said.

    I’m just old enough to have had measles shortly before the first vaccine was introduced in 1963, and to be able to remember it. It was by far the sickest I ever was in my life until I first was diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease when I was 22 — far sicker than I was with the mumps or chicken pox, both of which I also had. I even remember quite vividly what it felt like to be so delirious with fever that I was convinced my bed was moving away from the security of the wall it was up against; I kept begging my mother to push it back, which she pretended to do each time. (It was more of a hallucination than I ever had with any hallucinogen I ever tried, and just about as much fun.) After that, I used to sit there reading all the horrible descriptions of childhood illnesses in my parent’s copy of Dr. Spock, imagining that I was coming down with each one and wondering which one I would actually get next. For a while, I was convinced I would get diphtheria. That was the world I lived in as a small child — even in a first world country where hygienic standards were, in general, quite high at the time.

    Even taking measles alone (never mind all the other, even worse illnesses others have mentioned), the thought that if enough people were as unbelievably stupid as the troll on this thread, the days when measles was endemic could easily return, makes me apoplectically angry. To quote Wikipedia:

    Before the widespread use of a vaccine against measles, its incidence was so high that infection with measles was felt to be “as inevitable as death and taxes.” Today, the incidence of measles has fallen to less than 1% of people under the age of 30 in countries with routine childhood vaccination. Reported cases of measles in the United States fell from hundreds of thousands to tens of thousands per year following introduction of the vaccine in 1963. Increasing uptake of the vaccine following outbreaks in 1971 and 1977 brought this down to thousands of cases per year in the 1980s. An outbreak of almost 30,000 cases in 1990 led to a renewed push for vaccination and the addition of a second vaccine to the recommended schedule. Fewer than 200 cases have been reported each year since 1997, and the disease is no longer considered endemic.

    The benefit of measles vaccination in preventing illness, disability, and death has been well documented. The first 20 years of licensed measles vaccination in the U.S. prevented an estimated 52 million cases of the disease, 17,400 cases of mental retardation, and 5,200 deaths. During 1999–2004, a strategy led by the World Health Organization and UNICEF led to improvements in measles vaccination coverage that averted an estimated 1.4 million measles deaths worldwide.

    Measles is endemic worldwide. Although it was declared eliminated from the U.S. in 2000, high rates of vaccination and good communication with persons who refuse vaccination is needed to prevent outbreaks and sustain the elimination of measles in the U.S. Of the 66 cases of measles reported in the U.S. in 2005, slightly over half were attributable to one unvaccinated individual who acquired measles during a visit to Romania. This individual returned to a community with many unvaccinated children. The resulting outbreak infected 34 people, mostly children and virtually all unvaccinated; 9% were hospitalized, and the cost of containing the outbreak was estimated at $167,685. A major epidemic was averted due to high rates of vaccination in the surrounding communities. . . .

    The autism-related MMR study in Britain caused use of the vaccine to plunge, and measles cases came back: 2007 saw 971 cases in England and Wales, the biggest rise in occurrence in measles cases since records began in 1995. A 2005 measles outbreak in Indiana was attributed to children whose parents refused vaccination.

  131. Elisabeth
    Elisabeth December 30, 2011 at 7:25 pm |

    To ATC_K and other “survival of the fittest” anti-vaccine advocates:
    Don’t worry, stupidity weeds people out too, like those unvaccinated children who die suddenly from preventable diseases. My great great grandmother lost eight (8) children to whooping cough, one of the “less” fatal childhood illnesses. They all died at once. If you want children who survive to adulthood, I suggest popping out a few more to increase the chances. Also, I hope your kids die of measles. Oh wait, no, I don’t, since I’m not a monster. But luckily, you have no such qualms about those with compromised immune systems, like cancer patients and…newborns.

    I’m of the generation where my parents and grandparents lived through childhood diseases and knew how terrible they could be, and you can be pretty sure I’ve never met another person my age who was unvaccinated except for medical reasons. My generation and those slightly older than me, who are now procreating simply have no memory of what polio or mumps or measles can do to people. There’s also a cavalier “oh, modern medicine can solve it” attitude which isn’t exactly the case (small pox is 30-90% fatal, has no cure or form of treatment, and is permanently disfiguring if you survive), especially since little research has gone into treating diseases which are now completely preventable. Also, sure, you might get them all and be fine, but do you want to take the risk that you’re not? I had chickenpox as a toddler, long before the vaccine. I was fine, but I had a friend who died, and this was the 1980s. Yes, the death rate is fairly low, but if my kid died because I didn’t want to do something simple, harmless, and beneficial to her and society, I’d feel pretty terrible.

  132. EG
    EG December 30, 2011 at 7:35 pm |

    My great great grandmother lost eight (8) children to whooping cough, one of the “less” fatal childhood illnesses.

    God, I can’t conceive of that level of loss.

    And, I want to point out, even when you don’t die from chicken pox, it is a fucking awful experience. I still have a few scars. I was out of school for over a week, and when I went back, there were pox scabs all over my face, which is not nice when you’re twelve. I couldn’t stand to look at my body and wore as much clothing as possible. And that’s not even touching on the actual pain and irritation–oatmeal baths do not help, calamine lotion is bullshit. I was miserable. I am fucking thrilled that I’m going to be able to avert that for my future child. There is no virtue in unnecessary suffering.

  133. L
    L December 30, 2011 at 7:36 pm |

    Vaccinations may be one of the few things modern Western medicine has gotten right. I understand the skepticism (and am suspicious myself) towards modern medicine, what with the MANY abuses in the past and the fact that it IS still a for-profit industry and is susceptible to corruption (and I do believe it is corrupt in some ways). But vaccines are proven and are extremely important.

    That said, the one thing I am still not sure about is the HPV vaccine. Still on the fence about it.

  134. Elisabeth
    Elisabeth December 30, 2011 at 7:38 pm |

    Ok, double post, since I skimmed some of the earlier ones:

    EG: Actually, my doctor told me that you should be getting a tetanus booster every FIVE years, or seven years apart at most. But yeah, it’s super important to stay up on vaccines (ask for the DTaP when you get a tetanus booster.) Also, tetanus–100% fatal and not curable.

    aboat: Ya, no. Hygiene helped eliminate infectious diseases like cholera and typhoid in industrial societies (which also decimated societies), but not diseases like polio, measles, mumps, rubella, smallpox, or chickenpox. Soap and water can only do so much. There are cholera/typhoid/yellow fever vaccines, but they’re only given to people spending extensive time in 3rd world countries, not to the general public in industrialized countries, precisely because of hygiene developments. If hygiene could eliminate the need for other diseases, then we wouldn’t be vaccinated against them, kind of like now that smallpox is considered eradicated, we no longer vaccinate against that (which kind of scares me, BTW).

  135. librarygoose
    librarygoose December 30, 2011 at 7:44 pm |

    Hell, I got chicken pox as an infant then later shingles (still an infant). I have no memory of it but still have scars. If I can prevent the level of horror my mom described to me I’d stick them and their friends myself.

  136. Elisabeth
    Elisabeth December 30, 2011 at 7:52 pm |

    EG:
    Yeah, I think the reduction in child mortality is probably one of the most profound changes of the 20th century, and is totally overlooked (my guess is it explains all sorts of things, like the reduction of certain forms of socially acceptable violence and also religiosity.) I have no illusions that life wasn’t completely brutal in the late 19th century. My grandmother had an aunt who gave birth to 20 live children, and had 5 survive to adulthood. Basically, she went through 15(!!) baby/child funerals. Another aunt had 13 kids when her husband died, and she literally tied the younger ones to the bedpost while she plowed the field to keep them from wandering off and killing themselves. I’m not sure how many survived to adulthood, but I think the odds were slightly better for her. Another aunt died giving birth to her 5th child–she and the baby were both fine, but she was all alone, and it was winter, and she hemorrhaged to death trying to keep the fire going, and the baby froze to death. So yeah…not exactly nostalgic for the good old days.

    But anyways, this is a bit of a digression from the actual topic.

  137. EG
    EG December 30, 2011 at 8:06 pm |

    Yeah, I think the reduction in child mortality is probably one of the most profound changes of the 20th century, and is totally overlooked

    I completely agree. When I teach Jane Eyre, one of the things I tell my students to track is how often death and the threat of death dogs Jane when she is a child, and then I ask them what they make of it. They constantly say things like “it emphasizes how alone and vulnerable she is” and suchlike, and nobody ever, until I explain it, notes that there was nothing radically unusual about having endured that much loss by such a young age, and children were routinely warned to behave properly because they could die at any moment and they wouldn’t want to find themselves in hell.

    You see similar things in children’s books. A senior colleague of mine recently showed me a book from 1873 called The New Baby. It’s about, well, a new baby born with three older sisters and one older brother (none of them older than five, say). There are chapters about the new baby being born, choosing the new baby’s name, giving the new baby a bath, the new baby’s first illness, the new baby’s first word, the new baby’s first birthday, and the final chapter, in which the new baby dies, and her older siblings mourn her (that one is called “The Baby’s Best Birthday.” Oh, here’s a link to it.

  138. PrettyAmiable
    PrettyAmiable December 30, 2011 at 8:08 pm |

    PS, was anyone else shocked to find out about the chicken pox vaccine? That seems like a wasted week of my life.

  139. Debra
    Debra December 30, 2011 at 8:11 pm |

    The unsafest vaccination program ever given was for smallpox, with a much higher rate of complications and death than anything we would probably allow now. People accepted the risk for the greater good, and it saved millions of children. It seems that we have retreated more from this notion of the common good and are more concerned with number 1. Clearly illustrated by the climate change denialists. I also wonder if our science education might be lacking.

  140. pheenobarbidoll
    pheenobarbidoll December 30, 2011 at 8:12 pm |

    Fuck that. One of these assholes gives my kid measles, and I want him arrested and charged with any and everything that can stick–from endangering the welfare of a child to assault to poisoning.

    You’re awfully nice.

    Me? Not so much. I’d go the route of burn their house down as they slept.

    People like ATC never realize people like me exist. Until they wake up and their roof is collapsing.

  141. Donna L
    Donna L December 30, 2011 at 8:15 pm |

    the final chapter, in which the new baby dies, and her older siblings mourn her (that one is called “The Baby’s Best Birthday.”

    Well, there’s a happy ending for you. I can’t wait to read the same author’s “Granny’s Story Box.”

  142. Politicalguineapig
    Politicalguineapig December 30, 2011 at 8:58 pm |

    PrettyAmiable: Oh, yeah. I and my siblings were in one of the last age cohorts to get it. We were all younger then six. And I also had a flareup of shingles last year-luckily I recovered, but I caught the flareup early and I’m young, so I had insanely good odds of a total recovery. (High 90s.) So, yeah, I wish I’d gotten the vaccine too.
    DonnaL: My parents were older when they had me, which meant I got to hear all the horror stories as well: Dad lost most of a year of school to measles and mumps, and a friend of his nearly died of scarlet fever in adulthood. I kind of knew that whooping cough wore off, but the lesson was really driven home when a friend of mine was sent home from college with whooping cough.

    Speaking of.. I still need to get my flu shot.

  143. Elisabeth
    Elisabeth December 30, 2011 at 11:02 pm |

    EG:

    There’s a lot of really morbid children’s stuff out there. There’s a common bedtime prayer from the 19th century that goes: “Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the lord my soul to keep. And if I die before I wake, I pray the lord my soul to take.”

  144. Politicalguineapig
    Politicalguineapig December 30, 2011 at 11:09 pm |

    I said that prayer when I was little. It’s a lot younger than I thought. I thought it was one of those old hold-outs from grimmer times like Ring-Around-the-Rosy.

  145. librarygoose
    librarygoose December 30, 2011 at 11:26 pm |

    There’s a lot of really morbid children’s stuff out there. There’s a common bedtime prayer from the 19th century that goes: “Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the lord my soul to keep. And if I die before I wake, I pray the lord my soul to take.”

    I used to have a stuffed bear that said that prayer when you pressed it’s paw.

  146. pheenobarbidoll
    pheenobarbidoll December 30, 2011 at 11:56 pm |

    My kid had some doll that did that. I stepped on it one night and just about had a heart attack when that creepy little voice came out of the darkness reciting that shit.

  147. EG
    EG December 30, 2011 at 11:58 pm |

    There was a massively popular book from…1817, I think, called The History of the Fairchild Family. It stayed in print for almost 100 years. Very popular children’s book, all about a family of kids who learn important Christian lessons. In my favorite chapter, two of the sisters are fighting over something (one of them says “I do not love you, you naughty girl! Indeed, I do not!”), and as a punishment, the father takes them out to a deserted place to see a rotting corpse hanging on a gibbet, explaining that this man had been executed for murdering his brother, and by fighting, they were doing the same thing, and they have to kneel there and pray until they never ever do it again.

    In other chapters, one of the sisters is hungry, so she sneaks into the pantry and eats a snack even though she’s not supposed to, and she spills something on her dress, so she tries to wash it out, but then she doesn’t want her parents to see the damp spot on her dress, so she won’t sit close to the fire, so she catches pneumonia and almost dies as a punishment. Another little girl, a friend of the family who is not religious enough, plays with fire and burns up and dies and Mrs. Fairchild is very upset, because that little girl had not accepted Jesus into her heart and now she is in hell.

    Mrs. Fairchild is given to saying things like “Every child is evil in its heart.” I ask you.

    Every time I think of Victorian children, I think about how starved for non-sadistic reading material they were before 1865.

  148. Elisabeth
    Elisabeth December 31, 2011 at 1:05 am |

    Wow. I had no idea there someone would in contemporary times actually make toys which would say that prayer.

    My parents used to read me a German children’s book from 1865, Max und Moritz, about two naughty pranksters who get ground up into pieces in a flour mill and fed to ducks at the end, but since they were naughty, no one mourned their death. Not a strong Christian message, but more a strong “this is what happens to little children who cause mischief” message. More on the Christian maudlin note, for many of Hans Christian Andersen’s stories, “and then she went to heaven” was meant to be a happy ending (e.g. The Little Match Girl, The Red Shoes, The Little Mermaid, The Girl Who Trod on a Loaf, etc.)

  149. librarygoose
    librarygoose December 31, 2011 at 1:13 am |

    Wow. I had no idea there someone would in contemporary times actually make toys which would say that prayer.

    My mom taught me a version that went “Now I lay me down to sleep, a bag of candy at my feet. If I die before I wake, you know I died of a tummy ache.”

    I don’t know if that one is really measurably less disturbing.

  150. Delurking
    Delurking December 31, 2011 at 2:19 am |

    I remember having chicken pox too, but it wasn’t so bad. Itchy, yes, but I had a pretty good time lazying on the couch watching cartoons all day. An average cold was a worse experience for me. My best friend got shingles and that seemed, and looked, like something to seriously avoid.

    Sharing that is not why I’m typing in this here box though. First off, I want to thank you all who care about sick people, and old people, and other risk groups. Last year when the swine flu was making headlines I heard SO MANY of my coworkers and friends take the “I’m not getting that suspect vaccination, it’s not tested nearly enough, and so far all the people who’ve died in this country were weak in the first place” stance. As though those people are not worth protecting. That attitude makes me sick. Just thinking about it now makes my face red with anger.

    Secondly, to those on the fence on whether to vaccinate your child or not, have you traveled in third world countries and seen people, often children, suffer from strange and horrifying things? Things that made them look really… diseased. Infectious. Frightening. Faces and cries burned in your mind. Making you feel kind of traumatized even. Yeah, I have. And then years later I became friends with a doctor and one day described these strange and scary sick children to them and discovered that once upon a time, not that long ago at all really, these diseased weren’t strange or uncommon here in your country*. They were just vaccinated the fuck off. So uhh… I’m pretty confident if you saw what the vaccines are for, allergies and autism and whatever narcolepsy you’re scared of would pale to oblivion in comparison. You do not want anyone to catch those diseases, least of all your own child, I bet.

    *I’m in Finland.

  151. DonnaL
    DonnaL December 31, 2011 at 2:51 am |

    Speaking of sadism, when my mother was a child in Berlin in the late 1920′s, children were still reading Hoffmann’s Struwwelpeter, from 1845 — including the lovely tale Die Geschichte vom Daumenlutscher, about the little boy who sucks his thumb, which, as punishment, is cut off by a tailor wielding a giant pair of scissors, as in this bloody illustration: http://www.sagen.at/texte/maerchen/maerchen_deutschland/hoffmann/daumenlutscher_3.html

    The story and illustrations terrified her, as I’m sure it did untold thousands of other children over more than a century. But she knew it so well that she used to recite it to me in German sometimes. Not that I understood the words, fortunately.

  152. Bridget
    Bridget December 31, 2011 at 11:45 am |

    I’m late in seeing this, but this is a good discussion. I know some people who don’t vaccinate, and one of the arguments they make is that the immunity you get from acquiring a disease and then getting better is stronger than the immunity from the vaccine. This is why some of them do things like chicken pox parties to intentionally infect their kids. So sometimes it’s not that they don’t think their kids will get the disease, but more that they think getting the disease and getting over it is better than getting the vax. Does anyone know if there is any truth to that argument?

    It can be hard when you don’t see the effects of the diseases but you do sometimes see effects of the vaccines. For example, one of my friends’ baby had a febrile seizure after receiving the MMR vaccine. She had no idea what was happening to her baby until she took her to the ER. It was very scary for her. Then she wrote about it on Facebook and I got freaked out. After my baby’s last round of shots, he screamed inconsolably for hours. I know that’s relatively not a huge deal, but it was hard to watch him suffer and be unable to help him. He’s usually a relatively happy baby. I went onto the CDC’s website and saw that “irritability” was one of the side effects of the vaccine. That word seemed a bit of an understatement.

    Regardless, I am vaccinating my baby not only to protect him but because I feel that as a parent, one of the values I want to teach him is that we’re all in this together, and it’s important to do everything we can to help those in our community.

    It’s also hard because the info you find online is SO polarized. It’s hard to know whom to trust. My husband read a lot of that stuff and started to worry about the vaccines (and he’s a scientist!). So we are doing an alternative schedule which means I bring the baby in every month instead of every two months to spread them out a bit. But I know that’s not easy for a lot of working parents to do, and I think the reason doctors try to give several vaccines in one visit is to make sure the kids actually get them – if they were asking parents to bring the kids in once a month I’m sure a lot of them just wouldn’t do it.

  153. EG
    EG December 31, 2011 at 11:56 am |

    So sometimes it’s not that they don’t think their kids will get the disease, but more that they think getting the disease and getting over it is better than getting the vax. Does anyone know if there is any truth to that argument?

    The disappearance of polio and smallpox from the first world and the fact that all recent measles and mumps outbreaks in the US and the UK can be traced back to someone who was not vaccinated and affected other people who were not vaccinated strongly suggest that this is a load of hooey. Vaccine-created antibodies are plenty strong enough to fight off the diseases they’ve been created in response to, and that’s as strong as they need to be.

    Even if it were true, the argument makes no sense as a justification for chicken pox parties (I cannot even). If your kid gets vaccinated, your kid will have antibodies against chicken pox, and won’t get chicken pox. Even if these antibodies were weaker, which I’ve seen no evidence for, the worst that would happen is that…your kid would get chicken pox at some point. Which is what you’re guaranteeing by taking your kid to the pox party anyway, so what’s the point? It’s not like if your chicken pox antibodies are strong enough, they’ll also fight off HIV or something.

  154. mero
    mero December 31, 2011 at 2:39 pm |

    Does anyone know if there is any truth to that argument?

    Yes, there is some truth, but is your friend really willing to have a fucking measles party? She’ll have to explain to the kids that 3 out of 1000 of her friends will die.

    Does she know how hep B and HPV are spread? Is she willing to have a party to spread THOSE around too?

  155. Anna
    Anna December 31, 2011 at 5:16 pm |

    Right on. I need to read stuff like this, because I believe wholeheartedly in the amazing ability of vaccines to improve public health drastically — and I am also really afraid of needles! I really need to suck it up and get that annual flu shot.

  156. Kaz
    Kaz December 31, 2011 at 8:45 pm |

    @DonnaL and Elisabeth -

    Wow, I remember Max und Moritz and Struwwelpeter from when I was a kid – and I’m in my mid-twenties! It’s only recently, thinking back to then (aka: my niece is now four and likes being read to) that I realised just how effing disturbing those stories are. I’m not entirely sure why my parents had them around, maybe because they remembered them fondly from their childhoods – we’ve had some grief to do with realising that beloved childhood tales are actually really racist/sexist/etc. and probably best not to pass down to the next generation, so it doesn’t seem unlikely. But still! Bits of those are just grotesque!

    On topic:

    I’m glad everyone is taking down the antivax nonsense, as that is something I find seriously infuriating. I should also note that I’m autistic, and not only is it kind of frustrating to have people propose that dying of a preventable disease is better than being autistic (I’m glad to know you put so much value on my life), it means that this bullshit is aaaaall over dialogue about autism; I like to call it the greatest derail I’ve ever seen in addition to being a serious public health menace. It’s bad enough that so much money is going to research on how to prevent autistic kids from being born instead of, you know, figuring out how to support autistic people who are here right now, but then you have money getting funnelled into antivax nonsense and this is the point where I start sputtering incoherently with rage.

  157. Politicalguineapig
    Politicalguineapig January 1, 2012 at 3:51 pm |

    Anna: Wimps unite!

    Kaz: Yeah, that’s always troubled me too and I’m fairly NT. One thing that really creeps me out is that a lot of the most prominent anti-vax activists are parents of kids with autism. What they should be doing is figuring out what their kids can do and working with them to improve their quality of life. And what are they doing instead? Yelling on the internet about how vaccines destroyed their kids, or inflicting vile unproven therapies on their kids! As for the ones who don’t have kids or have neurotypical kids: if they’re that ablist about autism, how would they cope with a kid that’s gone deaf or blind from measles or mumps?

  158. ellid
    ellid January 1, 2012 at 7:26 pm |

    I’m of the generation that came just after Dr. Salk from the University of Pittsburgh invented the polio vaccine. Parents were all but weeping with relief that they could finally protect their children from the horrors of paralysis, withered limbs, and death, and Dr. Salk was all but a god, especially after he refused to patent the vaccine so that all could benefit.

    People today have no idea. Zero. The anti-vax crowd should be ASHAMED of themselves.

  159. Rachel
    Rachel January 1, 2012 at 10:04 pm |

    I’ve been thinking about this particular discussion for a couple days and I’ve finally decided to throw in my 2 cents.

    Many of my cousins feel extremely uncomfortable about vaccinating their kids before they start school. I don’t have any children at this point so I can’t really speak to how it may feel to vaccinate your children.

    That said, as a fully vaccinated person (although, I don’t typically get the seasonal flu vaccine. Whenever I get it I end up getting the full blown flu. It stinks) I am grateful that I am vaccinated against so many illnesses. Whenever I think to myself “Maybe I shouldn’t vaccinate my kids” (because I do want children someday) I hear my grandmother telling me about what it was like for her to have Whooping Cough as a child. My husbands adviser was crippled by Polio as a child and has to walk with crutches. My great-grandmother died from Cervical Cancer (the kind that I am now vaccinated against.)

    So yes, I can understand your hesitancy to introduce your 6-month-old to Polio. I would feel hesitant myself. However, individuals should be vaccinated before they start school (i.e. being in a public setting with a lot of other people.) If you’re home schooled, fine. But you should vaccinate yourself before you go to college. Maybe you’ve been fine until now. But you’re making the switch from being with your family almost exclusively to being with thousands of people. It’s best to protect yourself, and others.

  160. EG
    EG January 1, 2012 at 10:17 pm |

    Dr. Salk was all but a god, especially after he refused to patent the vaccine so that all could benefit.

    I either never knew this or I had forgotten it. Thank you for telling us. Dr. Salk is a true hero.

  161. PeggyLuWho
    PeggyLuWho January 2, 2012 at 1:22 am |

    I got scarlet fever in 2010. I had no idea what it was, and thought it was just a stress thing. And then the first two tests were negative, and they thought I had lupus. And no vaccine for scarlet fever. It’s caused by a strep infection. So don’t think that you’re vaccinated by that one. If you have a sore throat and a rash, go to the doctor, because it can cause heart and kidney damage if it goes untreated.

    As for HPV, it never ceases to amaze me how many people still don’t understand it, and that it causes cancer. I had to inform a young man a couple days ago about how he could be infected, and be spreading the virus, without knowing it, how there isn’t a test for men, and that it causes cancer. He didn’t know that! I was wondering what rock he’d been living under.

    My sister died of cervical cancer in 2008. I was diagnosed with the pre-cancerous lesions two months after she died. My other sister had a hysterectomy at 31, because of it. I take it very personally.

  162. librarygoose
    librarygoose January 2, 2012 at 3:24 am |

    It’s caused by a strep infection

    Seriously? I had no idea. If I ever get strep again I’m gonna go screaming to the doctor.

  163. EG
    EG January 2, 2012 at 3:49 am |

    Yes. Scarlet Fever, which I had as a child, is basically a systemic strep infection, if I remember the doctor’s explanation, and strep throat is…well, a strep infection in the throat. Either way, you should indeed go straight to the doctor (though I would recommend not screaming in the case of strep throat, because your throat will already be hurting plenty without the added strain!) and get your antibiotics, because left untreated, it can, as PeggyLuWho says, cause heart damage and kill you, which is what happened to Beth in Little Women. Also, be aware that in my memory, a sore throat is not necessarily a symptom of Scarlet Fever. I think I just had a rash and a fever. Possibly some swelling of something, but not my throat. For strep throat, the dead giveaway is a horrible sore throat that doesn’t get better, a fever, and…disgusting horrible white blisters in your throat.

    The more you know…

  164. PeggyLuWho
    PeggyLuWho January 2, 2012 at 1:19 pm |

    EG 1.2.2012 at 3:49 am | Permalink

    Yes. Scarlet Fever, which I had as a child, is basically a systemic strep infection

    The way the doctor explained it to me is that sometimes when you get strep, as your body is trying to attack the bacteria, it releases a toxin that causes the skin rash, and that’s the only real difference. The scary part was how long I had it before I went in for treatment. I didn’t notice a fever, and I’d been a little bit of a sore throat, but it didn’t feel like anything dire. I played a full (two fifty minute halves) of soccer with scarlet fever. I’d already had it for a couple of weeks. The next morning, I woke up and the rash had gotten so bad that my face swelled up to look like a pumpkin. It was gruesome. The tests they initially did for scarlet fever were the same quick test and culture they do for strep. Both were negative, so that was why they thought I had lupus, and did blood tests. There were antibodies to the strep in my blood, though, so that’s how they were able to finally confirm that it was scarlet fever. It took about three weeks to be totally gone, but probably would have only been four or five days if I had gone to the doctor and got treated right away. And it was months for me to get back into shape to play a full game of soccer.

    So, yeah, get to the doctor if you have a rash that’s tiny red bumps.

    OH – something else. That quick test they do for strep in the doctor’s office, it’s only 50% accurate if you get a negative reading, so you should always make your doctor send a culture to the lab if you get a negative, just to be sure.

  165. tinfoil hattie
    tinfoil hattie January 2, 2012 at 1:34 pm |

    Orher symptoms of strep throat, especially in kids: headache and concurrent stomach-ache. Sometimes without a sore throat! Scary, indeed. Untreated strep throat can be extremely serious. And so-called “scarlet fever” is strep throat with a rash. Or with bright-red cheeks. Look for fever, too. One of my kids was an infant and showed no discomfort, but had a 105 F fever. Full-blown strep.

    And as a by-the-way, I asked about the HPV vax for my sons 8 yrs ago. It “wasn’t recommended” for boys (because, y’know, all those girls infect themselves). Now the older one is 15 and has had the first round, and they want to give it to the 11-y.o. at his next physical.

  166. steven
    steven January 2, 2012 at 5:40 pm |

    I was deeply moved by reading ( most of) your posts. Until I contracted CLL, the term “Herd immunity” was merely a theoretical concept, as it is, I suspect, to most healthy people. Suddenly, my life is in the hands of many, many strangers, including my donor, who donated some of his stem cells, and everyone who decides to vaccinate themsleves and their children.
    My article is based on a blog I wrote in October. Here is my website, discussing what it’s like being a cancer doctor with cancer

    http://journalfromtheplagueyear.blogspot.com/

    The idea for my vaccine blog came from a wonderful video, on You Tube. Check it out:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u1xw0Ob5bqs

    Thanks. We truly are all in this together.

    Steven

  167. MillieJoan
    MillieJoan January 5, 2012 at 9:01 am |

    I know this is an older post, but I just came across it. I am currently nine months pregnant with my first child, and my husband and I have been having the vaccination debate for weeks now. Neither of us are “anti-vaxers”, but both of us have some serious reservations about the number and spacing of vaccines given to children.

    For the record, I don’t think people who are concerned about vaccines want things to return to the way they used to be, or even that they want to simply benefit from herd immunity without contributing to it themselves (with the exception, of course, of the few-and-far-between selfish assholes like the above poster with her “survival of the fittest” mentality). Many of them, like us, know someone who has been adversely affected by a routine vaccine; others are concerned about the profits of pharmaceutical companies coming before the well-being of everyone. This is an issue I’m really struggling with.

    For context, my step-father had polio as a child, as did one of his sisters. Her arm was permanently damaged by the disease, and though my step-dad, thankfully, doesn’t have any lasting physical damage, he spent months and months in the hospital when he was a kid, and was so traumatized by it that he, to this day, can’t get near a hospital without hyperventilating. (One Halloween we watched “The Exorcist” at a neighbor’s party; my step-dad had to leave part-way through, without saying a word to anyone, after one of the parts where the little girl is screaming and being restrained. Apparently he saw a lot of that–minus the supernatural reason, of course–in the hospital as a child). I don’t ever want my daughter to have to go through that, and I am truly grateful that vaccines have been developed that can spare her that kind of misery.

    Also, my mother-in-law has CLL. She was diagnosed last year, and like others have said, it’s not the leukemia that will ultimately kill her, it’s any number of diseases she could contract, which her immune system can’t handle. She’s been hospitalized several times since the diagnosis with colds and coughs which keep threatening to turn into pneumonia. I don’t want to do anything to put her more at risk than she already is (or anyone else with a compromised immune system), so that weighs heavily on my mind as I think about my child’s vaccinations.

    That said, both my husband and I know people whose children have been hurt by vaccines. The baby boy of a friend of my mother’s died after being given the Hepatitits B vaccine. She’d opted not to have it given to him at birth, but at one of his first pediatrician appointments. Apparently he screamed and screamed for hours after getting the shot, before suddenly growing quiet and then just no longer breathing. When they brought him to the hospital, it was determined he’d had a rare reaction to one of the vaccine’s ingredients. I can’t begin to express how despairing his parents were, or how betrayed they felt that they didn’t know this was a possibility.

    Also, my husband’s sister had an allergic reaction to the MMR vaccine when she was a child. Her legs swelled up within minutes of receiving the vaccine, and within an hour or so she’d had her first seizure. She’s been living with severe epilepsy ever since, and while yes, living with epilepsy is better than being dead, her life has been hugely affected by this. She can’t drive, and despite her medication, any time she gets stressed out she has a seizure–one of which nearly killed her several years ago–so her choice of occupations is limited. Her epilepsy medication also has side effects, including paranoia, which has cost her her marriage, and although she wants kids, it’s dangerous for her to become pregnant while taking the medication.

    I’m sorry to have written such a long post that doesn’t really come to any sort of conclusion. Basically, I’m very pro-vaccine–I do believe that we need to do what’s right for everybody, and I certainly don’t want my child’s health or life risked because of some terrible disease. However, both the instances above have made me nervous, and part of me feels like telling anti-vaxers that they’re selfish for putting the health of their children first is the same as, say, my mother-in-law saying NOT vaccinating is selfish because she can’t fight off diseases her granddaughter might carry as a result. I can see both sides of it–we need to protect the people who can’t protect themselves, and I know the risks of vaccines are low. But knowing two people who have had such horrific experiences makes me feel that discounting the potential risks, however slight they may be, is unfair to those who will be hurt by them.

    In the end, I have no doubt we’ll vaccinate our daughter, though we’re having a hard time finding a pediatrician willing to space the vaccines out for us. But a small part of me is terrified she’ll have some allergy to one of the ingredients as well, and anything happened to her as a result, I don’t know if I could live with myself.

    Basically, please try to understand that many of us who are wary of vaccines are not monsters or selfish people. Many of us have seen the problems that can definitively be linked to vaccinations in certain, unlucky people. And just because the risk is small doesn’t, I think, make the fear invalid, because if it’s YOUR son who dies, or YOUR daughter whose epilepsy has nearly killed her, and prevents her on a daily basis from safely leading a “normal” life–well, those experiences would probably have as profound an impact on your opinions of the medicine as those some of you shared about children dying of whooping cough, etc have had in the other direction.

  168. PrettyAmiable
    PrettyAmiable January 5, 2012 at 9:18 am |

    MillieJoan, is there any way to test infants for allergies to those ingredients? (I genuinely don’t know, nor do I have any good resources for parenting questions)

  169. Angus Johnston
    Angus Johnston January 5, 2012 at 9:49 am |

    Basically, please try to understand that many of us who are wary of vaccines are not monsters or selfish people. Many of us have seen the problems that can definitively be linked to vaccinations in certain, unlucky people. And just because the risk is small doesn’t, I think, make the fear invalid,

    No, it doesn’t make the fear invalid. But having said that…

    Not every adverse event that takes place shortly after a vaccination is due to that vaccination. Yes, there are some cases where vaccination causes horrible outcomes, but it’s a lot more common for people to draw causal connections that aren’t warranted. I’m not saying that’s the case in either of the instances you’re familiar with, but it happens. A lot.

    And it’s also really important to be clear that even people who aren’t intentionally setting out to get a free ride via herd immunity when they choose the non-vax route are getting a free ride via herd immunity. The fact that most people vaccinate makes their decision NOT to vaccinate a low-risk one, which means that they’re benefiting from my decision to assume the risks of vaccination for my kids while putting my kids at greater risk by choosing not to vax theirs. They may not intend to do that, but that’s what they’re doing.

    Yes, parents should take an active role in managing their childrens’ vaccination schedules, as they should with any medical decision they’re faced with. And yes, there are reasons to be careful about vaccines in particular. But you wouldn’t even be considering foregoing vaccination for your daughter if I and hundreds of millions of parents like me hadn’t assumed the risks of vaccination for our own kids — if you lived in a community in which none of the other kids were vaxed, you’d be eager to sign your kid up for the shots.

  170. Politicalguineapig
    Politicalguineapig January 5, 2012 at 10:07 am |

    PrettyAmiable: I know there are ways to test adults for allergies to vaccine ingredients, so it seems like there ought to be a corresponding test for infants.

  171. EG
    EG January 5, 2012 at 11:00 am |

    Worth noting: There are significantly elevated risks of febrile seizures on the day of receipt of DTP vaccine and 8 to 14 days after the receipt of MMR vaccine, but these risks do not appear to be associated with any long-term, adverse consequences.

    While it does look like MMR can trigger a seizure, it seems to have no effect at all on long-term health concerns. Is there no reason to think that your husband’s sister would have developed epilepsy even had she not been vaccinated?

    I can’t begin to express how despairing his parents were, or how betrayed they felt that they didn’t know this was a possibility.

    While doctors did things differently decades ago–and, I would say, much more poorly–these days, yes, you would know this was a possibility. I’ve just been reading the informational hand-outs the pediatrician gave my best friend, and they include pretty detailed lists of possible side effects, and what kind of reactions should cause you to call the doctor, and what kind of reactions should cause you to go to an ER immediately.

    I just looked up the hand-out for the Hep B vaccine, and it’s quite detailed about what kind of symptoms constitute a moderate or severe reaction; these hand-outs look to be government-mandated to me, as I found them on the CDC website. It also notes that severe allergic reactions occur in about 1 in 1.1 million cases (about 280 instances out of the US population of almost 309 million, if everybody in the US were to get vaccinated), while 1.25 million people in the US have chronic Hep B infection, resulting in 3000-5000 deaths a year. So you will be running a risk either way. The question is, which risk do you want to run?

    However, both the instances above have made me nervous, and part of me feels like telling anti-vaxers that they’re selfish for putting the health of their children first is the same as, say, my mother-in-law saying NOT vaccinating is selfish because she can’t fight off diseases her granddaughter might carry as a result.

    I disagree, specifically because of the difference in the chances of problems. People who vaccinate are not only putting the health of their child first, playing the percentages, which are very strongly weighted in their favor, but also doing a community service. People who don’t vaccinate are not putting the health of their child first specifically because of the percentages in play, and they are selfishly benefitting from everybody else’s accurate assessment of the odds.

    And just because the risk is small doesn’t, I think, make the fear invalid, because if it’s YOUR son who dies, or YOUR daughter whose epilepsy has nearly killed her, and prevents her on a daily basis from safely leading a “normal” life–well, those experiences would probably have as profound an impact on your opinions of the medicine as those some of you shared about children dying of whooping cough, etc have had in the other direction.

    Would they? I think they would give me the same visceral reaction you have, but the reason we have long-term studies of large populations is so we have actual evidence to go on, rather than assortments of anecdotes. Certainly if an allergy to a vaccine component had been present in my family, I would let my doctor know, and in that case, it would be all the more important that everybody else be vaccinated, because I would be depending on herd immunity to protect me.

    I, personally, am terrified of shark attacks. And whenever anybody points out how rare they are, I say what you have said here, and note that their rarity would be no comfort if I were the one being attacked. But deciding not to go into the ocean carries no risks at all, either to me or to anybody else. Not being vaccinated, however, causes significantly more risks than getting vaccinated, not only to you, but to others around you, which is what makes it a selfish decision regardless of the reasoning behind it.

    others are concerned about the profits of pharmaceutical companies coming before the well-being of everyone.

    Vaccines are not big money-makers, because you get them once, maybe three times, and then it’s over. Meds for chronic conditions are where the money is. Because of that, until quite recently, drug companies had no interest whatsoever in research new vaccines, which are hugely more effective than more profitable treatments. The fact that this is changing is a good thing for public and individual health.

  172. Jackie
    Jackie January 13, 2012 at 11:57 am |

    I think the people who chose to be unvaccinated or not vaccinate their children, should live on their own island away from those of us that live in modern times. Autism is not caused by vaccines, health is.

    These parents who don’t want to vaccinate their kids, are no different than a terrorist carrying around a bio-weapon. We’d put someone who tried to bring Anthrax into open society, but if a parent chooses to have their child grow up filthy and diseased it’s a choice? I’m guessing parents would vaccinate their children if we made it policy that unvaccinated children have to live like untouchables.

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