Wednesday, January 21, 2015


So, a bunch of alpha-parents decide that they're not going to vaccinate their kids against measles, because, I don't know, Jenny McCarthy said not to or something.

So those kids go to Disneyland. And one of them, or some other kid (it's possible it could have been a tourist from somewhere where vaccines are less common) was there with the measles. And now there's a measles out break.

and now,  some of the park employees have it.

Even, apparently, a few who were vaccinated. That's what scares me - I have been vaccinated three times in my life (as a baby. Then later, as a small child, when my brother got the vaccine and the pediatrician we saw at the time believed the version I got was "no good." And then again, in grad school, because they claimed they couldn't find it on the records.)

So I would HOPE I was immune (I know, you can get a titer done. But I don't think my insurance covers that). But how awful - to think you're protected from this rather awful disease (it's not the flu, it's far worse) and you're NOT. And someone, because their parents were special snowflakes, has just infected you.

Seriously. I'd want to trace down patient zero, and if they were one of these people who didn't vaccinate because of Jenny McCarthy or who the hell ever, I'd want to sue them. (And sue the anti-vax celebrities, for good measure).

It's called HERD IMMUNITY. You're not getting the vaccine just for YOU. You're getting it so that people around you who are on chemo and can't be vaccinated, or who have severe allergies to vaccine components, or who have an autoimmune disease, or who are babies too young to be vaccinated, are protected.

It's selfish, if your kids aren't in one of those groups, to say, "Nope, not gonna vaccinate them, because the infinitesimal risk of a bad reaction is too much risk."

I made special care to take the flu shot (I would have, anyway) when a friend of mine was going through chemo and other treatments and couldn't have it - I didn't want to risk infecting her.

I wouldn't have quite so much of a problem with anti-vax parents if it was only their kids that were hurt, but in a lot of cases, it's other takes something like 85% to 90% of the population being immune to a disease (through vaccines, mostly, these days) to stop its spread.

Measles, while generally not deadly, is one of the worst diseases for spreading: its R-nought (a measure of its reproductive rate, essentially) is 18. Ebola's is two.

And measles can have nasty sequelae. My understanding is that those are increasingly likely the older you are - so those adult park employees are very unlucky.

I, just....I tend to lean libertarian in some things, and I tend to not like the government compelling us to do stuff. But vaccines, that's kind of different, in my mind. I wish people would stop being stupid about them and I wish Jenny McCarthy had kept her mouth shut. And that that British doctor who published the lies about vaccines and autism was kicked out of his profession before he did that.

I grew up with enough older relatives, great-aunts and the like, who raised kids during the "polio summers." I had someone who would have been an aunt who died young of what might have been rubella. So I'm pretty seriously pro-vax.

1 comment:

Dave E. said...

I wish the CDC would take the resources spent on what are behavioral health issues and and rededicate them to the efficacy of vaccines and education about them. That is what is more inline with its original purpose. When my doctor and I review my immunizations this year I will probably get another MMR and tetanus shot at a minimum. Maybe a few others in case I do some international travel in the next few years.