U.S. Measles Cases Hit 15-Year High
May 25, 2011 7:53 AM   Subscribe

So far this year there have been 118 cases of measles reported in the United States.

"Measles is a highly contagious, acute viral illness that can lead to serious complications and death. Endemic or sustained measles transmission has not occurred in the United States since the late 1990s, despite continued importations. During 2001--2008, a median of 56 (range: 37--140) measles cases were reported to CDC annually; during the first 19 weeks of 2011, 118 cases of measles were reported, the highest number reported for this period since 1996. Of the 118 cases, 105 (89%) were associated with importation from other countries, including 46 importations (34 among U.S. residents traveling abroad and 12 among foreign visitors). Among those 46 cases, 40 (87%) were importations from the World Health Organization (WHO) European and South-East Asia regions. Of the 118, 105 (89%) patients were unvaccinated. Forty-seven (40%) patients were hospitalized and nine had pneumonia. The increased number of measles importations into the United States this year underscores the importance of vaccination to prevent measles and its complications."

In the meantime the CDC has been happy to quarantine travelers without documented vaccination suspected of contact with measels.
posted by Blasdelb (173 comments total) 21 users marked this as a favorite

 
The second link goes to Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, which is available as an RSS feed, just in case you need to balance out your daily cute cat photos.
posted by odinsdream at 7:57 AM on May 25, 2011 [3 favorites]


So, the issue, by and far, is people in other countries who are Jenny McCarthy followers, and not our own American wingnuts?
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 8:02 AM on May 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


Oh, yes. Britain and France are now both reservoirs for measles thanks to antivaccination insanity.
posted by ocschwar at 8:07 AM on May 25, 2011


In other news, a friend of mine just got mumps! The odd thing is, she was vaccinated as a child, so this is a case of her own resistance declining, but why the fuck are there even still mumps out there for people to catch?!
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 8:14 AM on May 25, 2011


Can Andrew Wakefield be charged with crimes against humanity yet? Because his little fraud has created the kind of deadly gift of doubt and fear that is just going to keep harming and even killing people who refuse to believe anything other than his lie.
posted by quin at 8:15 AM on May 25, 2011 [22 favorites]


I get a certain grim satisfaction from the imagined conversations taking place these days:
"Mom, dad, I've been admitted to hospital because of measles. Could you explain again why I wasn't vaccinated?"
posted by abx1-se at 8:18 AM on May 25, 2011 [4 favorites]


Can Andrew Wakefield be charged with crimes against humanity yet?

People who make claims counter to established science to the detriment of public health should absolutely be prosecuted and kept from spreading their bullshit.
posted by adamdschneider at 8:19 AM on May 25, 2011 [4 favorites]


Jenny McCarthy followers

McCarthy-platform-provider Oprah Winfrey signs off the air today.
posted by Trurl at 8:22 AM on May 25, 2011 [10 favorites]


posted by adamdschneider People who make claims counter to established science to the detriment of public health should absolutely be prosecuted and kept from spreading their bullshit.

I agree. Let's start with Fox News, Sarah Palin, Jenny McCarthy, and Harold Camping.
posted by mattdidthat at 8:22 AM on May 25, 2011 [6 favorites]


(That's not that many (says the fully vaccinated parent with the (almost, no Hep B yet) fully (staggered) vaccinated child).)

The only vaccines I even hesitated on were Hep B-which I haven't given my daughter yet, and she can get later before she becomes sexually active--and Chicken Pox--for purely sentimental reasons, probably, and just general concern for developing her own strong immune system (i.e. getting chicken pox as a kid might be better for you than getting the shot, booster, booster, etc. do we really know for sure yet?)

Our pediatrician has been very helpful in explaining what is in each vaccine and when we have choices ... which usually seem to be between lots of aluminum or cow brains or something.

Anyway, I decided in favor of the Varicella shot, the thinking being that if most people these days are vaccinated, she might not catch it as a kid naturally and then it becomes more dangerous.
posted by mrgrimm at 8:24 AM on May 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


In other news, a friend of mine just got mumps! The odd thing is, she was vaccinated as a child, so this is a case of her own resistance declining, but why the fuck are there even still mumps out there for people to catch?!

This is the exact reason that anti-vaccination idiots are not just hurting themselves and their children, but all of us, by weakening the effects of herd immunity.
posted by silby at 8:24 AM on May 25, 2011 [5 favorites]


I agree. Let's start with Fox News, Sarah Palin, Jenny McCarthy, and Harold Camping.

Let's start with the fucking Pope.
posted by mrgrimm at 8:24 AM on May 25, 2011 [20 favorites]


McCarthy-platform-provider Oprah Winfrey signs off the air today.

Oh, you just made my day with that piece of news.
posted by ocschwar at 8:25 AM on May 25, 2011 [3 favorites]


"People who make claims counter to established science to the detriment of public health should absolutely be prosecuted and kept from spreading their bullshit."

Somehow I'm not sure that this is the answer, I sure as hell wouldn't want the Texas State Legislature, US Congress, small town jury, or our increasingly co-opted courts deciding if my research is in the interest of public moral health.

For every complex problem there is a simple solution and it is always wrong
posted by Blasdelb at 8:26 AM on May 25, 2011 [24 favorites]


If you read TFA, you'll see that 89 percent of the cases were imported. Jenny McCarthy and Andrew Wakefield are dolts, but they didn't cause the spike.
posted by Sticherbeast at 8:26 AM on May 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


Kinda depends on where the cases were imported from.
posted by aramaic at 8:27 AM on May 25, 2011



If you read TFA, you'll see that 89 percent of the cases were imported.


Dollars to donuts, many of these were imported by unvaccinated Americans bringing back a little memento from a trip abroad.
posted by ocschwar at 8:27 AM on May 25, 2011 [5 favorites]


getting chicken pox as a kid might be better for you than getting the shot

Then again, the dormant virus is what pops up as shingles in later life and is rather nasty. No chicken pox, no shingles.
posted by mikeh at 8:30 AM on May 25, 2011 [8 favorites]


Sticherbeast, so long as we are reading TFA, it says that 89% of cases were directly associated with index cases whose infections originated abroad. Jenny McCarthy and Andrew Wakefield are in fact directly associated with this spike:

"Nine outbreaks accounted for 58 (49%) of the 118 cases. The median outbreak size was four cases (range: 3--21). In six outbreaks, the index case acquired measles abroad; the source of the other three outbreaks could not be determined. Transmission occurred in households, child care centers, shelters, schools, emergency departments, and at a large community event. The largest outbreak occurred among 21 persons in a Minnesota population in which many children were unvaccinated because of parental concerns about the safety of measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine. That outbreak resulted in exposure to many persons and infection of at least seven infants too young to receive MMR vaccine"
posted by Blasdelb at 8:32 AM on May 25, 2011 [15 favorites]


Save yourself righteous anger and don't read the comments on the first link.
posted by ob at 8:34 AM on May 25, 2011


I stand corrected!
posted by Sticherbeast at 8:34 AM on May 25, 2011 [3 favorites]


People who make claims counter to established science to the detriment of public health should absolutely be prosecuted and kept from spreading their bullshit.

Not so fast! People who fraudulently make such claims should be dealt with harshly, but you can't go on a witch hunt every time a study shows a result contrary to current conceptions.
posted by Mister_A at 8:42 AM on May 25, 2011 [15 favorites]


Then again, the dormant virus is what pops up as shingles in later life and is rather nasty. No chicken pox, no shingles.

I was very disappointed to read a few years ago that the chicken pox vaccine is still new enough that it's not yet known whether children who are vaccinated might be at risk of developing shingles in adulthood.
posted by not that girl at 8:42 AM on May 25, 2011


It's worth noting that the first link mis-states the importation angle: "Now, the vast majority of U.S. cases are imported: 105, or 89 percent, of the cases covered in the latest report." Lazy reporting by NPR. It looks like there were actually only 46 "importations" as opposed to cases associated with importation (which includes the folks the imports go on to infect).

On the Minnesota connection, it's my understanding (based on my recollection of news reports at the time) that many of those cases were among our Somali population, whose mistrust of the vaccine may be based on things other than Jenny McCarthy's propaganda.
posted by nickmark at 8:43 AM on May 25, 2011


There are some real idiots loose in that comments section on the first link.
posted by docpops at 8:44 AM on May 25, 2011


Oh, you just made my day with that piece of news.

YOU THINK SHE'S GONE?!?
posted by middleclasstool at 8:46 AM on May 25, 2011


118 doesn't seem so bad, does it? I dunno, I guess I hadn't realized we were that close to mostly wiping it out. I can remember when almost entire elementary schools would come down with it. Our parents would make us go play with other kids who had chicken pox and measles; either our parents didn't like us (possible), or everyone was pretty nonchalant about both diseases. I can't remember if I had either, but I'm sure I must have, just because I think everyone did.
posted by dejah420 at 8:49 AM on May 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


118 doesn't seem so bad, does it?

That's almost a new case every day.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 8:53 AM on May 25, 2011


Trurl: " McCarthy-platform-provider Oprah Winfrey signs off the air today."

She has her own media empire: a television network, a production studio with film and radio divisions and a monthly magazine with a high circulation.

The end of The Oprah Winfrey Show won't be the last we see of Oprah. And it probably won't be the end of Ms. Winfrey's promotion of Jenny McCarthy.
posted by zarq at 8:53 AM on May 25, 2011 [3 favorites]


118 doesn't seem so bad, does it?

The number should be 0.
posted by Threeway Handshake at 8:55 AM on May 25, 2011 [12 favorites]


They said 105 were import-associated, but 10 were imported, so it sounds like 95 people were infected by the 10 people who got measles in some other country. Or am I misunderstanding?
posted by jeather at 8:55 AM on May 25, 2011


In other news, a friend of mine just got mumps! The odd thing is, she was vaccinated as a child, so this is a case of her own resistance declining, but why the fuck are there even still mumps out there for people to catch?!

Vaccines don't offer perfect protection against a disease, there's still chance that a person will catch whatever they've been vaccinated against. It's a very small chance, and if they do catch whatever it'll be a lesser form of the full blown disease, but it can still happen. Case and point, I had the MMR jab as a kid but still managed to contract mumps when I was 17, as did about ten others in my year group who had also been vaccinated as a child. Your friend's resistance isn't declining, it's just as healthy as ever but she got unlucky this time. The vaccine might not have stopped the disease outright, but it did ensure she won't suffer from the full blown effects and that it should be gone in a shorter time.
posted by Inner Universe at 8:56 AM on May 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


This scares the fuck out of me. Despite having had 3 doses of the MMR vaccine, I have no resistance to either Rubella or Measles. I am a grad student who teaches a LOT of students every year... and I live with this quiet fear that one day I'm going to have an un-vaccinated student expose me to one of those two. I mean hell, I would never have known I had no immunity had my immunization records not been lost by the university, and I had to get tested. How many other students may have no resistance despite being immunized? How many of those have younger siblings, or children of their own?

118 might not seem like a lot, but even ONE death or permanent disability caused by preventable diseases like these is too many.
posted by strixus at 8:57 AM on May 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


The point isn't that there's a huge outbreak of measles in the US (there isn't); rather, it's that measles is trending up in the US and other countries, including France, which has had several thousand recent cases. That is the alarming thing. The upward trend is going to continue unless public health measures are taken. However, public health measures = socialism, so the hell with it.
posted by Mister_A at 8:58 AM on May 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


"Mom, dad, I've been admitted to hospital because of measles. Could you explain again why I wasn't vaccinated?"

My sister had a horrible bout of whooping cough when she was two or three, and has pointedly asked our Mom that on a few occasions.

It's amazing how closely the MMR/autism scare has followed the template of the DTP/brain damage scare of the '70s and '80s. A single scientific paper by Dr. John Wilson suggested that the DTP vaccine caused brain damage, blindness and death. The press went completely nuts. Vaccinations dropped from 80% to 30%, herd immunity was lost and cases of whooping cough skyrocketed. The scare spread from the UK to the US. The original paper was shown to be complete and utter bunk (some of the kids in the study had symptoms before they had their jabs, most of the rest had genetic conditions or unrelated infections).

Here's a lengthy piece on that scandal.

I find it fascinating that the whooping cough thing doesn't come up more often with regard to MMR, and that we have such short memories that a carbon copy scare could play out without anyone (that I've seen) popping up to say, 'Hang on, we did this twenty years ago, and we can't let it happen again'.
posted by jack_mo at 9:04 AM on May 25, 2011 [25 favorites]


public health measures = socialism

It's only socialism when you do it with a carrot. When you do it with a stick, it's called fascism, and we seem to be eating that shit right up.

Not sure how I'd feel about DHS goons breaking down people's doors and forcibly vaccinating them, but I guess it'd be more useful than airport gropery.
posted by Kadin2048 at 9:06 AM on May 25, 2011


I want to agree that 118 cases doesn't seem so bad. I really do.

But I can't. As an individual who can not get a measles booster ever, as I had a significant reaction upon receiving the first booster as a child, 118 instances that are the result of a deliberate and conscious choice to not vaccinate are 118 too many.

Being pulled from high school because a classmate developed the measles, having to have my titers periodically tested, having to present documentation that my failure to immunize is due to an allergic reaction in order to attend college and graduate school, and (most recently) being threatened with isolation because I had the misfortune of being pregnant during a measles outbreak in my city, are not pleasant experiences.
posted by theBigRedKittyPurrs at 9:11 AM on May 25, 2011 [20 favorites]


This is a dog's breakfast.
posted by OmieWise at 9:14 AM on May 25, 2011


The cattle disease which human measles may have originally diverged from rinderpest was officially declared extinct last year. Alas that we cannot say the same for measles. And it wasn't just right-wing news sources which boosted such crankery. Salon ran scaremongering on thiomersal. Meanwhile in Britain you could find pro-Wakefield scaremongering in publications as diverse as Private Eye and Sunday Herald. Full page - 'We were wrong - please vaccinate' stories have been noticeably absent.
posted by Flitcraft at 9:14 AM on May 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


Not sure how I'd feel about DHS goons breaking down people's doors and forcibly vaccinating them, but I guess it'd be more useful than airport gropery.

I heard part of an interview a while back with a guy who wrote a book about forcible small pox vaccinations in tenements in turn-of-the-(last)-century NYC:

"There were scenes of policemen holding down men in their night robes while vaccinators began their work on their arms," Willrich tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross. "Inspectors were going room to room looking for children with smallpox. And when they found them, they were literally tearing babes from their mothers' arms to take them to the city pesthouse [which housed smallpox victims.]"
posted by rtha at 9:17 AM on May 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


(exempting of course 'The Sunday Times' which through Brian Deer's work helped expose Wakefield, but some of the worst offenders did very little)
posted by Flitcraft at 9:19 AM on May 25, 2011


The financial implications of the US measles outbreaks
posted by homunculus at 9:21 AM on May 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


having to present documentation that my failure to immunize is due to an allergic reaction in order to attend college and graduate school

I thought you could just say you have a philosophical or religious objection and -- unless you are in public health, teaching, etc -- you were okay with not being immunised? (I am not in support of this: I think that anyone who wants to go to public school should have to be immunised or have a medical reason why they cannot be.)

Every now and then I go on various forums where people write about how vaccination kills children's souls, ruins them forever, that they can tell who has or hasn't been vaccinated based on the light in their eyes, and it really just amazes me. When asked, they say that there is nothing at all that would convince them that vaccinations are good because pharmaceutical companies are evil and doctors don't want people healthy and actually the reduction in deaths from measles and other vaccine-preventable diseases is all because we have better sanitation and I sometimes think that the only way this will change if there are a lot of huge outbreaks with a lot of deaths (mostly of the unvaccinated).
posted by jeather at 9:23 AM on May 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


This has becone so personal for me.

My two year old just finished six months of chemo. Her immune system was wiped out, rebuilding it with help of stem cell therapy. As far as we know, all her prior vaccinations were wiped clean and it will be a long time before they will risk a revaccination.

Knowing there are people hypocritically and ignorantly taking a free ride on herd immunity and putting my daughter at substantial risk just makes my blood boil.

Next time I meet one of these parents it will be a real struggle not to punch them in the motherfucking dick
posted by Rumple at 9:26 AM on May 25, 2011 [89 favorites]


BTW, the book Bad Science is a very interesting read and has a great chapter on vaccine scares. The website is great too.
posted by ob at 9:31 AM on May 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


that they can tell who has or hasn't been vaccinated based on the light in their eyes

This might be a teachable moment: we can demonstrate the value of empirical testing in evaluating bullshit claims and then ignoring and devaluing the ones that don't stand up. It'll be a fun way to teach them science!
posted by quin at 9:34 AM on May 25, 2011


If you read TFA, you'll see that 89 percent of the cases were imported. Jenny McCarthy and Andrew Wakefield are dolts, but they didn't cause the spike.

If you'd paid attention to the issues previously you would know that the anti-vaccination movement was international, notably Wakefield's scare stories originated in the UK; so conceivably their efforts could have influenced migration of cases into the US.
posted by biffa at 9:37 AM on May 25, 2011


Can we pass a law that says you can't board an airplane unless you present proof of vaccination? I just want to see what happens.
posted by Faint of Butt at 9:39 AM on May 25, 2011 [3 favorites]


From homunculus' link:

Indeed, it’s striking just how many of the infections are clustered around Minnesota, where anti-vaccine activists have been for years targeting an immigrant Somali community…and where Wakefield has made multiple trips over the past several months

The distinction between imported and not isn't so clear.
posted by exhilaration at 9:40 AM on May 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


vaccination kills children's souls, ruins them forever, that they can tell who has or hasn't been vaccinated based on the light in their eyes

Holiest of shits, really? Is this anything newagey or such? I guess I'll just have to give up and admit I'll never be able to truly predict the depths of some people's willing stupidity.
posted by Iosephus at 9:43 AM on May 25, 2011 [2 favorites]



My two year old just finished six months of chemo.
[snip]
Knowing there are people hypocritically and ignorantly taking a free ride on herd immunity and putting my daughter at substantial risk just makes my blood boil.


IANAD but, for what it's worth, this study appears to suggest that mortality risk due to measles is lowest at your daughter's age:

The excess female mortality appears small at age 0-4 (+4.2%), larger at age 5-14 (+10.9%) and peaks during the female reproductive period, at age 15-44 (+42.6%). This pattern of excess female mortality occurs in all the major regions of the world: Europe, North and South America, Far-East Asia, the Middle East and South Asia.

Presumably she will be ready for vaccination as she approaches a higher-risk age.
posted by Greenie at 9:49 AM on May 25, 2011


Thanks for that, Greenie. Obviously it's not only measles I am worried about but I realize that is the topic of FPP.
posted by Rumple at 9:54 AM on May 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


A cogent statement of why some people question the current vaccine schedule, make of it what you will:

"And the same is true of mitochondrial dysfunction and overstimulation of the immune system - all sorts of things can happen in that situation. And it does happen in nature - a lot. But talk with Jon and Teri Poling, and you'll find out it can also happen when you give a child nine vaccines in one day."

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/david-kirby/notes-from-the-big-anti-v_b_209506.html
posted by emmet at 10:03 AM on May 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


Even though my husband and I are both well-read, intelligent people, we still had a few "what if the rumours have an ounce of fact?" moments prior to getting our 1-year old vaccinated. In the end, it was our responsibility to herd immunity and our daughter's health that saw us through.

But the fear we had was not insignificant; we had to reason our way through (it doesn't help that I want to cut any nurse who makes my baby cry). I did a lot of reading to ease my anxiety, even though I KNEW that there was link between autism and the MMR. The damage done by Wakefield will take decades to reverse.
posted by katiecat at 10:05 AM on May 25, 2011 [3 favorites]


getting chicken pox as a kid might be better for you than getting the shot

I had the shot, I got it anyway. At 19.
posted by litnerd at 10:08 AM on May 25, 2011


"And the same is true of mitochondrial dysfunction and overstimulation of the immune system

Mitochondrial dysfunction? What's that?

"Try to imagine all life as you know it stopping instantaneously and every molecule in your body exploding at the speed of light."
posted by ocschwar at 10:09 AM on May 25, 2011


"The increased number of measles importations into the United States this year underscores the importance of vaccination to prevent measles and its complications."

The Honey Badger.
posted by En0rm0 at 10:13 AM on May 25, 2011


Not so fast! People who fraudulently make such claims should be dealt with harshly, but you can't go on a witch hunt every time a study shows a result contrary to current conceptions.

Well, that's why I put "established" in there. What's the standard for "fradlulent claims"? It doesn't matter if he believes it, it's still a detriment to public health (and no one said anything about stopping research, based on "moral" health or otherwise).
posted by adamdschneider at 10:17 AM on May 25, 2011


katiecat: "Even though my husband and I are both well-read, intelligent people, we still had a few "what if the rumours have an ounce of fact?" moments prior to getting our 1-year old vaccinated. In the end, it was our responsibility to herd immunity and our daughter's health that saw us through.

But the fear we had was not insignificant; we had to reason our way through (it doesn't help that I want to cut any nurse who makes my baby cry). I did a lot of reading to ease my anxiety, even though I KNEW that there was link between autism and the MMR. The damage done by Wakefield will take decades to reverse.
"

My wife and I felt the same way. We did a lot of research and educated ourselves. It also helped that we had patient pediatricians.
posted by zarq at 10:17 AM on May 25, 2011


I thought you could just say you have a philosophical or religious objection and -- unless you are in public health, teaching, etc -- you were okay with not being immunised? (I am not in support of this: I think that anyone who wants to go to public school should have to be immunised or have a medical reason why they cannot be.)

In my case the philosophical/religious objection did not apply, as I did my undergraduate studies at a private college and my graduate work as an out-of-state student. Both schools required either proof of immunization or documented evidence of a reaction as a condition of attendance.
posted by theBigRedKittyPurrs at 10:22 AM on May 25, 2011


Juniata College 1878 – A smallpox epidemic in Huntingdon forces the school to close from January 13 to
February 26. William Beery, Benjamin Bowser, and Levi Stoner – three students from
Ohio who fear that going home will mean never returning – go to the nearby mountains.
In a deep mountain gorge called “The Forge.”, they stay in an old ramshackle house until
the quarantine is lifted. The smallpox exile of the three students leads to one of the great
traditions of Juniata College - an event known now as “Mountain Day.”


Maybe you'll all get to love this tradition as much as we did, if only for a slightly different (and less terrifying) disease.
posted by Slackermagee at 10:24 AM on May 25, 2011


If there's any lesson to be learned from the WHO discussing whether to destroy the remaining smallpox samples it is that DISEASES THAT HAVE VACCINES CAN BE ERADICATED!!! I would suggest that Wakefield and McCarthy should be used as test subjects for the viability of the remaining stocks, except that they've both probably been vaccinated.
posted by Runes at 10:25 AM on May 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


For those people who don't think Wakefield should stand trial for public endangerment: he (a recognized theater fire analyst) essentially stood up and shouted fire in a crowded theater, knowing that his advertised-as-fireproof theater across the street would make mega-bucks after he did.
posted by Slackermagee at 10:26 AM on May 25, 2011 [4 favorites]


"If there's any lesson to be learned from the WHO discussing whether to destroy the remaining smallpox samples it is that DISEASES THAT HAVE VACCINES CAN BE ERADICATED!!!"

In 1998 the WHO was on the verge of eradicating polio. An antivax panic in northern Nigeria led to a minor pandemic there, which spread all around the world thanks to the Hajj in Mecca. And the WHO was back to square one.
posted by ocschwar at 10:26 AM on May 25, 2011 [3 favorites]


Not so fast! People who fraudulently make such claims should be dealt with harshly, but you can't go on a witch hunt every time a study shows a result contrary to current conceptions.

Well, couldn't we just bitch slap them about a bit? Public humiliation shouldn't be too harsh a punishment for propagating dangerous stupidity?
posted by PeterMcDermott at 10:31 AM on May 25, 2011


More measles = more chances for SSPE. That's going to be a tough one for an antivaxer to explain to their adult child with an irreversible, rotting brain.
posted by meehawl at 10:34 AM on May 25, 2011 [3 favorites]


On the subject of chickenpox I think the significant risk to pregnant women and their unborn children has to be taken into some account.
posted by edd at 10:43 AM on May 25, 2011 [3 favorites]


based on the light in their eyes

Holiest of shits, really? Is this anything newagey or such? I guess I'll just have to give up and admit I'll never be able to truly predict the depths of some people's willing stupidity.


Yes, it is newagey. If I have the fortitude this evening, I will try to find some quotes. It's all mostly in one mothering website, or at least that is where I have seen it.

I have no doubt that people who believe this would be unwilling to test their predictions.
posted by jeather at 10:44 AM on May 25, 2011


I remember the This American Life story on the quarantine the CDC instituted for some folks in San Diego because some affluent family decided not to vaccinate their kid and then he went on a lovely trip to Switzerland and brought it back with him. His parents took him to the doctor's office (It was actually the medical office of the son of the famous Dr. Spock) and exposed the unvaccinated babies and toddlers waiting for their checkup.

One baby, who got infected, had parents who didn't know what was happening. It was the grandparents who had to say, "That's the measles." I would have been so angry. That kid may or may not have developmental disabilities now. I'd be curious to find out. I don't remember what they said happened or if they gave an update. I just remember the horrifying description of the baby and the swelling and the high fevers. Poor little guy.
posted by anniecat at 10:50 AM on May 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


I had measles and pneumonia (at the same time) when I was a kid. I nearly died. I couldn't keep anything down, not even water. The doctor told my parents that there was nothing more he could do, and suggested prayer (which was duly applied). Within a couple of days, I woke up one morning very hungry and proceeded to eat like a pig and keep it all down. I was discharged from the hospital a day or two later. This was ca. 1965. A measles vaccine had been available, but I didn't get it. Wish I had.
posted by Crabby Appleton at 10:51 AM on May 25, 2011 [3 favorites]


homunculus, thanks for that link. I hadn't realized that the Somali community in Minnesota had been specifically targeted by antivaccine activists, apparently as a result of the presence of an apparent autism cluster in that community:

In November [2008], J. B. Handley, a founder of Generation Rescue, which advocates treating autistic children with wheat- and dairy-free diets, vitamins and chelation to remove mercury, wrote an open letter to “Courageous Somali Parents.”

He warned them not to trust the state health department and suggested they slow down their children’s shots and get exemptions to school vaccination requirements. He also offered to pay for some to attend an antivaccine conference.

The appeal has had an effect. Many parents, including Ayub’s, now say that their children’s autism began after seizures that started after they got shots.


More recently, from Minnesota Public radio, there's this:

Somali parents say they understand that the Health Department wants to prevent the spread of dangerous diseases like measles. But they argue that it's not enough for them to be told that vaccines don't cause autism.

Idil Abdull, a mother of an autistic son, isn't sure if she can trust the studies that exonerate vaccines. And she said she wouldn't want to take any chances, if she had more children.

"We're frustrated," she said. "We're afraid of autism."

The despair in her community is so great that Abdull said it's hard to imagine that many Somalis will change their minds about vaccines. But she thinks some would be more open to the agency's advice if the Health Department put as much energy into figuring out the cause of autism as it has invested in preventing measles.

"Don't just come and say, 'We don't know what the cause of autism is, but we know it's not [vaccines].' But come and say, 'Here's what we're going to do.'"

posted by nickmark at 10:58 AM on May 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


I had the German Measles as a baby in 1979, and actually didn't realize (until internet wandering caused by this thread) that there is a different between the German Measles (ie. rubella) and actual measles (ie. rubeola). Some scientist I am......
posted by tryniti at 11:04 AM on May 25, 2011


118 doesn't seem so bad, does it?

Yes, it does.

What Vaccine Refusal Really Costs: Measles in Arizona

"To stop a 14-person outbreak that began with one unvaccinated tourist visiting a US emergency room, the Arizona Department of Health had to track down and interview 8,321 people; seven Tucson hospitals had to furlough staff members for a combined 15,120 work-hours; and two hospitals where patients were admitted spent $799,136 to contain the disease."
posted by ambrosia at 11:09 AM on May 25, 2011 [14 favorites]


On the subject of chickenpox I think the significant risk to pregnant women and their unborn children has to be taken into some account.

Absolutely. I forgot about that one and it was actually a huge factor. My wife is pregnant right now. We would have waiting a little bit to vaccinate my child (2) for varicella, but since my wife is pregnant, we decided to do it now.

(The Varicella injection hurts like hell, fwiw. My daughter barely flinched at the first injection; the Varicella shot second was like someone had just shot her dog in the face.)

I find it fascinating that the whooping cough thing doesn't come up more often with regard to MMR

Heh, the whooping cough thing actually comes up more often in regard to, you know ... the whooping cough thing.

118 doesn't seem so bad, does it?

The number should be 0.


Well, so should the number of fatal car accidents every day. At some point, though, you have to say "good enough." 118 is not a problem. It's the 3x trend that is the problem.

I'm not ready to start putting anti-vaccinators' heads on pikes yet.
posted by mrgrimm at 11:12 AM on May 25, 2011


Idil Abdull, a mother of an autistic son, isn't sure if she can trust the studies that exonerate vaccines.

Argh, so frustrating! She'll trust one single shitty, biased, unscientific study that condemns vaccines but not the numerous ones that exonerate? A firing squad is too good for that Wakefield jackass. Fling him into the velociraptor pit.
posted by elizardbits at 11:21 AM on May 25, 2011 [4 favorites]


I declined the varicella shot for my first child, now 4.5, because at the time it seemed that the immunity conveyed by the shot would be wearing off at just about the time that the consequences of the disease started getting severe. My plan then was to get her the shot if she hadn't caught chickenpox by the time she was 11. Other than that, she's fully vaccinated, mostly on-time. (We didn't give her the hep B shot at birth, I figured she'd been through enough that day.)

Knowing what I know now, I wish I'd given it to her. I will definitely give it to my son, now 6 months, when he's a year old. BUT hindsight is 20-20. My parents didn't give me the pertussis shot because of the aforementioned paper, either; at the time, they thought it was the right thing to do. When my brother was vaccinated without my mother's consent and had a very bad reaction, it sure looked like it validated their concern. It is rough, even when you know the science, even when you understand herd immunity, even when you know people who lost literally dozens of childhood friends to diphtheria because they grew up in an unvaxed community, to hold down your baby as he screams while they stick needles into him and then watch him get hot and restless and glassy-eyed for a day afterwards.

But you know what? being a parent means doing hard things for your kids' health. It means making them eat their vegetables, it means not parking them in front of the TV for 6 hours a day every day, it means spending time helping them with their homework, and it means vaccinating them unless they have specific reasons not to be vaccinated. My nephew is totally unvaccinated, and his parents travel to Mexico with him at least once a year if not more often, and we just avoid seeing them for a month or so after they come back, because I don't want to expose my family to measles or anything else. Thank God for vaccinations.
posted by KathrynT at 11:23 AM on May 25, 2011 [10 favorites]


Elizardbits, I don't see it as these people necessarily trusting the charlatans, but the charlatans don't need their trust. From my reading of the sentence you quoted it looks more like classic FUD: Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt.

In many ways it's harder to fight that than trust.
posted by littleredspiders at 11:31 AM on May 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


Knowing what I know now, I wish I'd given it to her.

Both of my kids now 3 and 5 were exposed to and contracted chicken pox in the natural way, by playing with other children in public spaces. Both had mild cases which were quickly over. They are now vaccinated against chicken pox. (And in the same manner, vaccinated against every seasonal influenza since they were born.)

Knowing what I know now, I would not have done it any other way.

For more serious diseases, MMR, Tetanus, TBE, we go the route of man-made vaccines, but wherever possible it seems best to let nature do it.

Immunity is earned, like muscles in the gym, the fewer shortcuts the better.
posted by three blind mice at 11:33 AM on May 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


Well, so should the number of fatal car accidents every day. At some point, though, you have to say "good enough." 118 is not a problem. It's the 3x trend that is the problem.

Not when it comes to infectious disease. The entire point of the problem is that these diseases are contagious. If the disease spreads quickly enough, one case becomes five becomes 25 becomes 125, sometimes in a matter of weeks. It's not just linear growth, it tends to be exponential because each infected person infects others around them. That's what an epidemic is all about. If you don't stop that growth before it spreads too widely, the task quickly becomes orders of magnitude more difficult. See mathematical modeling of infectious disease on Wikipedia for further details.

Car accidents aren't contagious. With infectious diseases, it's not "good enough" until the number of cases is low enough to have zero or, better yet, negative growth in infection rates.
posted by zachlipton at 11:35 AM on May 25, 2011


Immunity is earned, like muscles in the gym, the fewer shortcuts the better.

So predictable doses of regular exercise over time produce false muscle hypertrophy, but living on the savannah moving rocks and taking down zebras produces the real thing, only with far more risk of evisceration.

Got it.
posted by docpops at 11:44 AM on May 25, 2011 [15 favorites]


I hang out on the mothering dot com forums (MDC) where it's widely accepted that vaccines are awful and herd immunity doesn't exist/isn't important, as enforced by a ban on merely mentioning it to someone considering vaccination.

In the sub-forum for NYC area moms, there was a mother who was seeking out other children for a Rubella party. Rubella! In an incredibly densely populated area with plenty of people who take public transportation.

I'm not immune to rubella, as I found out when I got pregnant. Many people aren't.

People like her (and the anti-science ignorant assholes at MDC) love to do dangerous things and it's fucking terrifying.
posted by the young rope-rider at 11:54 AM on May 25, 2011 [4 favorites]


It's only socialism when you do it with a carrot. When you do it with a stick, it's called fascism

I want a bumper sticker that says "SOCIALISTS DO IT WITH A CARROT".

(Or a standup routine where I show how socialists and fascists do it ["like this" and "like THIS", respectively])
posted by DU at 11:55 AM on May 25, 2011 [6 favorites]


In the sub-forum for NYC area moms,

This is always what I find fascinating. The anti-vaccination crowd are educated people with means, which in my mind makes them even more culpable. Here in Oregon the pockets of non-vaccinators correlate pretty well with higher incomes. Our OHP patients don't think twice about them and show up for every well check that is scheduled.
posted by docpops at 11:59 AM on May 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


(i.e. getting chicken pox as a kid might be better for you than getting the shot, booster, booster, etc. do we really know for sure yet?)

Yes, we do.

For more serious diseases, MMR, Tetanus, TBE, we go the route of man-made vaccines, but wherever possible it seems best to let nature do it.

Why? Really, why? Do you understand how vaccines work? How is it unnatural? And even if it were unnatural, why is that bad?
posted by Justinian at 12:04 PM on May 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


Dear Rumple: I don't know you, but if you do give in to your urge, I will swear you were somewhere else at the time and it wasn't you.

Someone needs to write a pamphlet for the NIH about autism and what's known about it, as well as one about "Andrew Wakefield: Professionl Liar For Money!", to give to people like the Somalis mentioned above.

There's a paper being released in Nature (sorry, no link to it that I can find on the Nature site itself) that indicates genetic factors for autism, but I would expect the antivax loons (and yes, I consider them loons, like the people the young rope-rider mentioned) to just say 'it's another big pharma conspiracy'. The part of that which make me sad is that they're clearing their nuttiness out of the gene pool by risking the lives of their children, and that's unfair to the kids.
posted by mephron at 12:04 PM on May 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


People who make claims counter to established science to the detriment of public health should absolutely be prosecuted and kept from spreading their bullshit.

Yeah, because being hired by a law firm to fake evidence for court cases is totally an indication of a genuine interest in scientific research and a concern for public health.
posted by rodgerd at 12:17 PM on May 25, 2011


Mitochondrial dysfunction? What's that?

I think it means you can't use the Force.
posted by The Tensor at 12:18 PM on May 25, 2011 [6 favorites]


It's amazing how closely the MMR/autism scare has followed the template of the DTP/brain damage scare of the '70s and '80s

My Mom told me that many people tried to convince her to not give me the DTP vaccine (I was born in 75.) Thank God she did. I had meningitis at one week old and it pretty much wrecked my immune system (at least according to my doctors) and I pick up every single bug out there. Luckily, my parents didn't believe the quacks and protected me and my siblings.

Now, I worry as I'm 36 years old and I have no idea if I still have my immunity. I probably should have one of my doctors check on that.
posted by SuzySmith at 12:18 PM on May 25, 2011


This goes to the This American Life show anniecat referenced: "Ruining It for the Rest of Us." The vaccination story is Act One.

young-rope-rider: Don't these moms realize that rubella can cause miscarriage or birth defects? That's monstrous.

All my friends with kids say the worst part of raising children in NYC (as opposed to the 'burbs) is a certain kind of parent that seems endemic: judgmental, competitive, self-obsessed, over-indulgent with their own child and hyper-critical of all others. Yes, living space is always a problem, the school thing is downright Kafkaesque, but those issues feel manageable somehow. What's repeatedly and seriously broken down my friends was trying to deal with these toxic moms at the playground or at school.

That is their hallmark: I've got mine, and fuck you and yours.
posted by dogrose at 12:58 PM on May 25, 2011 [3 favorites]


(i.e. getting chicken pox as a kid might be better for you than getting the shot, booster, booster, etc. do we really know for sure yet?)

Yes, we do.


Cite? I thought the danger was for older people and pregnant women/babies. Most kids who get chicken pox are OK, no?

That is their hallmark: I've got mine, and fuck you and yours.

That is the American way. New York City is as all-American as it gets.
posted by mrgrimm at 1:05 PM on May 25, 2011


Cite? I thought the danger was for older people and pregnant women/babies. Most kids who get chicken pox are OK, no?

Herd immunity? You want everybody vaccinated, even people for whom the disease is less seriously. Secondly, what cite are you looking for? That serious side effects are less likely from the vaccination than from chicken pox?
posted by Justinian at 1:12 PM on May 25, 2011


(less serious, of course, not less seriously)
posted by Justinian at 1:12 PM on May 25, 2011


"For more serious diseases, MMR, Tetanus, TBE, we go the route of man-made vaccines, but wherever possible it seems best to let nature do it."

This is something I have never understood about the anti-vaxxers in the alternative health community; vaccines and variolation are, according to any meaningful standard, the most natural treatment modality we have available to us. Seriously, it is using the power of your body's own immune system to fight disease before it even starts. So long as we've got the ability to safely educate our immune systems such that it can take care of the problem itself, why bother with things like herbs, or pharmaceuticles, or diets that must be maintained for long periods of time; enriching those selling them to us.

Nowadays we don't even need to variolate, modern vaccines use tricks like growing the organism in the cold for so long that its enzymes adapt and no longer work in the human body, or killing the organism with heat so that all our immune system needs to deal with is a hollow shell of the organism, or isolating the only protein that our immune system would see anyway and using that instead of the live shit. There is even a small company in Scotland working to even safer by making bacteriophages, the Soviet Union's entirely harmless secret weapon against bacterial disease (self link PDF), to present only the entirely harmless DNA of that one protein to your immune system which then gets expressed slowly and at your immune system's leisure so that it couldn't freak itself out if it wanted to.

With tools like this, we can eliminate diseases from the Earth; all using the power already contained in our bodies, it only needs to be unlocked.


Protip: You can't reason people out of positions they didn't reason themselves into in the first place, what you can do is match tone and, once your on the same wavelength, insert facts
posted by Blasdelb at 1:15 PM on May 25, 2011 [17 favorites]


The Jenny McCarthy Body Count is only getting higher. And for those asking, What's the Harm? Check out this site, What's the Harm.

Here's my issue. As a society, we don't remember not being able to play in the park or go to the pool in the summer due to polio. We don't remember when 50 million people, including my great-grandmother, died during a worldwide flu epidemic. We don't remember the grief and devastation of a family when their infant died of measles.

Vaccination and herd immunity has allowed us to forget these horrors but forgetting may become our downfall.
posted by Sophie1 at 1:19 PM on May 25, 2011 [8 favorites]


"Rubella party" - how does one have a Rubella party? Collect one sick kid, add a bunch of healthy ones?

Like three blind mice's little mice, mine has had all her shots when she should, except one for chicken pox which I didn't even know existed until recently. The idea here is that the immune system needs to meet, greet and learn to deal with the less dangerous things, thus being worked out like muscles. It seems the general attitude in preschool is that the kids should get sick as much as possible and bring a nice bouquet of Norovirus home to mom every fortnight.

While it makes sense to have children's developing immune systems learn to deal on 'smaller' dangers, it really bugged me to see pure dumb behavior that guaranteed a virus or bacteria would spread at the preschool. The mother of twins would drop one off the school, and take the other one (who still sat in the twin-stroller) home again. The one going home had varicella, and soon the twin at school had gifted it to all the other children including mine. "It's a good thing" they said at school "they get it young, they'll have it over with". I was fuming about it, she wasn't even two yet, and trying to tell a poor little 2-year old not to scratch the scabs as they'll leave scars is impossible. Poor thing.

I was vaccinated against most everything (as I recall a classmate exclaimed "are your parents freidycats?" when he heard) but due to the Swedish system not accepting the US systems paperwork, I had to vaccinate all over again. I've had enough polio-shots now thanks. When I was eight, my friend had chicken pox and I went over to her house to play with her after school all that week to make sure that I got as I figured "now would be a good age". I hated having it so much, and the painful shingles I was blessed with at 27, even more so. If I had known there was a varicella vaccination for kids, I might have gotten it for mine.
posted by dabitch at 1:30 PM on May 25, 2011


"Rubella party" - how does one have a Rubella party? Collect one sick kid, add a bunch of healthy ones?

Yup. Things like that used to be common back before vaccines.
posted by ocschwar at 1:35 PM on May 25, 2011


"Rubella party" - how does one have a Rubella party? Collect one sick kid, add a bunch of healthy ones?

Yes, and then if things go well all those kids get infected and disperse throughout the NYC metro area. What could possibly go wrong?
posted by the young rope-rider at 1:42 PM on May 25, 2011


three blind mice: "Both of my kids now 3 and 5 were exposed to and contracted chicken pox in the natural way, by playing with other children in public spaces. Both had mild cases which were quickly over."

It's not over, and that's a weird use of the word "natural" to describe the invasion of your children's bodies by swarming microparasites. The herpes varicella zoster virus has now adapted to their immune system and is lurking in their nerve roots and ganglions waiting for a chance to reactivate as shingles. Some cases of shingles are mild, but many are not, and some can produce lifelong neurologic damage and symptoms that do not abate when the disease flare subsides. Also, ocular shingles is just plain nasty.

If they had been vaccinated against the virus and their immune system successfully primed to fight a primary infection, then it's exceedingly unlikely that the virus could have adapted and found refuge within their nervous system. Your gym muscle hypertrophy analogy for how the cellular immune system works is simply inaccurate.

Ironically, as more children are vaccinated against varicella and active cases in the community decline, the periodic immune triggering protection this gives to latent-infected adults is waning and there are more cases of serious zoster reactivation. This is why periodic vaccination of adults previously infected with varicella has become more popular.
posted by meehawl at 1:46 PM on May 25, 2011 [12 favorites]


Oh I got shingles, and the other thing about shingles (besides the excruciating pain) is that it's highly contagious. I went to the doctor the very same night that I noticed symptoms but I could have easily brushed them off for a day or two and infected my boss or anyone else who wasn't immune to varicella.

It is really good to avoid that scenario if you can.
posted by the young rope-rider at 1:49 PM on May 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


The only vaccines I even hesitated on were Hep B-which I haven't given my daughter yet, and she can get later before she becomes sexually active

I'm not a parent (or a vaccine expert), so apologies if this is a dumb question, but is there any reason not to go ahead and get the Hep B vaccine early? If there are specific dangers to it that I'm not aware of (and there may very well be, I have no idea) that makes perfect sense; otherwise why wait?
posted by naoko at 1:59 PM on May 25, 2011


three blind mice: "Both had mild cases which were quickly over. They are now vaccinated against chicken pox.[...] Knowing what I know now, I would not have done it any other way. "

Just before they came own with chicken pox, how many people were your children around--how many people were exposed to your not-visibly-contagious offspring? Can you be absolutely certain that all of THOSE people were protected from varicella? How many people did you unknowingly expose to chicken pox?

If any of those people were total strangers, they might have been disabled or killed by that exposure, and you'd never know, because you never saw them again. My grandfather was disabled by shingles. Death may be very uncommon with chicken pox, but it happens.

Nobody knows who exposed my friend's less-than-a-month-old infant to whooping cough, and it nearly killed him. Strangers you encounter only briefly may be horribly, horribly affected by your choices, as much as with people who spend more time with you.
posted by galadriel at 2:13 PM on May 25, 2011 [10 favorites]


Pope was right; a little knowledge is a dangerous thing. From the comments to the first linked article:
[V]itamins and supplements have become completely dominated by big pharma-where these supplements have become more synthetic, less recognizable to nature, and lesser ability to be absorbed for nutrition. Malnutrition plays a big part in causing weakened immune systems but for the nerve cells in a brain to become completely destroyed? No weakened vitamin can do that. Only a neurotoxin. Can you possibly answer my question. http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/pubs/pinkbook/downloads/appendices/B/excipient-table-1.pdf Here are vaccine ingredients. Do you understand the potential each of these ingredients has on our cellular biology/immune systems? If you do not fully understand it, how can you trust it to work? Just open your mind a little bit to the possibility, that perhaps, vaccines, may be the cause of some diseases, maybe not entirely, but partially.
I have some friends, a married couple, who are totally committed to the autism/vaccination theory lie. They have three-year old twins and one nearly two year old and none of the children have been vaccinated; when the twins were born their father sent a general email out to their friends and internet acquaintances talking about their decision to refuse to vaccinate. The phrase "herd immunity" came up a great deal, as did the evils of thimerosal. Thing is, they're both educated and intelligent people; she's a nurse, he's a sysadmin at a large university with an international reputation, and they're both very active online (though not, I sincerely hope, Metafilter, or this post would likely cause a difficult conversation). They're also vegan, and while I fret about their daughters not being allowed dairy products, I recognize that they are all healthy and that it's none of my damn business, really. Not vaccinating, however, is the public's business. I've said it before on Mefi: I was clobbered by whooping cough, which I contracted from a student, in 2002, and I was sick for nearly five months including four weeks when I could barely get out of bed without coughing until I vomited. I'm old enough to remember having mumps, seeing friends get measles, and having a smallpox vaccination (fucking painful); and I'm also old enough to remember how seriously my parents and their generation took vaccination, because they had known of children who had died (such as my father's young brother, dead of diptheria before he was two). This is how cultural memory is lost, and it's frightening, because the corrective to it could be horrific.
posted by jokeefe at 2:30 PM on May 25, 2011 [9 favorites]


Also, has this been linked yet? From the New Yorker, Resistant: Why a century-old battle over vaccination continues to rage about the history of public health campaigns to vaccinate against smallpox; the book's thesis is that forced vaccination is a civil rights issue of underrated importance. The review is properly skeptical, or at least attempts a consideration of the consquences of one (violation of civil rights) against the other (smallpox epidemics).
posted by jokeefe at 2:38 PM on May 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


"The only vaccines I even hesitated on were Hep B-which I haven't given my daughter yet, and she can get later before she becomes sexually active"

Best to do it before she sits naked on the wrong locker room bench.
posted by ocschwar at 2:40 PM on May 25, 2011


Knowing what I know now, I would not have done it any other way.

Data point. Two kids in my elementary school died from complications from Chicken Pox. A few years apart from each other. I have had it twice. First time was very mild and the second time was hell. I had Chicken Pox everywhere even on the insides of my eyelids. This was in the 70's. You and your kids were lucky, nothing else.
posted by futz at 2:48 PM on May 25, 2011 [4 favorites]


I had chicken pox at age 5. At age 10, I was exposed to someone with chicken pox, and had a shingles outbreak. This was not fun (it is also not usual.) I lost weeks of summer with pain and inflammation -- I would do whatever necessary to make sure my kid could avoid that.
posted by ltracey at 2:52 PM on May 25, 2011


Hep B isn't just sexually transmitted; anyone in the same household as someone with Hep B is at risk and some people don't know that they have it but they're still contagious.

Plus I wouldn't really rely on a child to tell me exactly when they became sexually active. I wouldn't want to try to guess, either.
The rates of Hep B in children have fallen dramatically (by around 90%) since routine infant immunization became the standard of care. This indicates to me that waiting until a child is sexually active is not nearly as effective in preventing the disease as simply getting the vaccine as scheduled.

It also protects infants whose mothers might unknowingly pass Hep B to them during birth.
posted by the young rope-rider at 3:02 PM on May 25, 2011 [3 favorites]


I think people are over reacting a bit. Yes, people will get killed but that doesn't mean censorship is the answer. People are going to believe all kinds of crazy shit. If Wakefield engaged in fraud in his papers, he could be prosecuted for that.

Also keep in mind that vaccination isn't totally risk free. Vaccination is done because more people will get sick if it's not done then if it is, but some people can get sick from Vaccination. That's why you have things like vaccine courts to pay damages to people who do end up having averse reactions to them.

So for example:
During 1991--2001, VAERS received 128,717 reports, whereas >1.9 billion net doses of human vaccines were distributed. The overall dose-based reporting rate for the 27 frequently reported vaccine types was 11.4 reports per 100,000 net doses distributed. The proportions of reports in the age groups <1>65 years were 18.1%, 26.7%, 8.0%, 32.6%, and 4.9%, respectively. In all of the adult age groups, a predominance among the number of women reporting was observed, but the difference in sex was minimal among children. Overall, the most commonly reported adverse event was fever, which appeared in 25.8% of all reports, followed by injection-site hypersensitivity (15.8%), rash (unspecified) (11.0%), injection-site edema (10.8%), and vasodilatation (10.8%). A total of 14.2% of all reports described serious adverse events, which by regulatory definition include death, life-threatening illness, hospitalization or prolongation of hospitalization, or permanent disability. Examples of the uses of VAERS data for vaccine safety surveillance are included in this report.
I'm not defending Anti-vaxxers at all (and this study was from before the anti-vaxx movement got started anyway). But it's not inconceivable that there could be problems with some vaccine. We stopped giving people the small-pox vaccine after the risk of infection got low enough for the risks not to balance out. Banning people from even questioning vaccines could lead to problems down the road.
posted by delmoi at 3:11 PM on May 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


I think people are over reacting a bit. Yes, people will get killed but that doesn't mean censorship is the answer. People are going to believe all kinds of crazy shit. If Wakefield engaged in fraud in his papers, he could be prosecuted for that.

And the people who continue to perpetuate that fraud -- what of them?

It's not censorship if the thing being "censored" is a lie.
posted by Sys Rq at 3:29 PM on May 25, 2011


If Wakefield engaged in fraud in his papers, he could be prosecuted for that.

If only that were true. Wakefield probably engaged in scientific fraud when he wrote his papers, and certainly engaged in fraud when he did not retract them. But scientific fraud is not fraud under common law.
posted by ocschwar at 3:35 PM on May 25, 2011


It's not censorship if the thing being "censored" is a lie.

Of course it is.
posted by Justinian at 3:42 PM on May 25, 2011 [3 favorites]


Then I guess every fraud, libel, and slander case should be thrown out, then?
posted by Sys Rq at 3:45 PM on May 25, 2011


Also perjury.
posted by Sys Rq at 3:46 PM on May 25, 2011


What the young rope-rider said about shingles and chickenpox - I remember having chickenpox as a kid but hating it. I had shingles a few months ago and it was deeply unpleasant (despite it being mild and shortlived), moderated by those nice antivirals you can get now, so I didn't have it for quite so long (although I'm glad I kept getting second and third opinions till I found a doctor who went "Oh! Classic shingles!").
Certainly throughout the second episode, my biggest concern was avoiding giving it to anyone else, most of all someone vulnerable.
Of all the symptoms I could have, I think guilt would be the most unbearable.
posted by edd at 4:04 PM on May 25, 2011


i am so sick of people dismissing the anti-vaccine crowd as whack-jobs who don't know how infallible and altruistic scientists and scientific institutions are. most of this comes down to a fundamental mistrust of the institutions that are disseminating information about vaccines and isn't being helped any by the fact that we are *constantly* being lied to for monetary or political gain or ??? (Baxter Labs anyone?).

when someone can convince people that it is absolutely not possible that the information we get from the institutions performing and disseminating the information in these studies has been filtered or altered in the name of the "greater good", in the name of some corporation's financial well-being, or in the name of some politician's future, this will go away, and probably not until then.

many of these people have seen what they feel is a direct causal relationship between the MMR vaccine and autism, and when given the choice between trusting what they've seen (or think they've seen) and trusting some nebulous entity that belongs to a larger group of untrustworthy entities, they're trusting themselves.
posted by mrPalomar72 at 4:43 PM on May 25, 2011


many of these people have seen what they feel is a direct causal relationship between the MMR vaccine and autism,

They can "feel" it all they like, but it's. not. there. The studies have been done, and done, and done, and done, and done, and there is no correlation, zip, zero, none, none at all. The two things are unrelated. It's not a case of "well, just because we haven't found the link doesn't mean it's not there;" that's not how scientific investigation works. Every reputable study shows strong, affirmative evidence for the absence of a link.

So, yeah. Feel free to "feel" like vaccines are harmful. But if you make the choice to deliberately allow your child to get sick, then it's on you to curb the potential harm. Stay quarantined for two weeks after international travel, or after you visit other people who have recently traveled internationally. Homeschool. Don't send your children to daycare or storytime at the library. Don't decide for yourself that you're going to spare your kids the minuscule risk of vaccines, but that you're unwilling to bear any of the inconvenient responsibilities.
posted by KathrynT at 4:57 PM on May 25, 2011 [20 favorites]


mrPalomar72: False dichotomy?
Certain large companies and organisations not being entirely pure doesn't mean that an extreme opposite view is correct. Sometimes the truth is between these things, and in this case people should generally learn that their own instincts are not always correct, but that equally does not mean that what a corporation claims is correct either.
It's not straightforward to sort it all out, especially if you're not trained to read a scientific paper or something, and I think the media has a lot to answer for - I certainly don't lean towards parents for reading a misleading media article and going away with the wrong idea.
posted by edd at 4:58 PM on May 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


lean towards blaming parents. Sorry.
posted by edd at 4:59 PM on May 25, 2011


Then I guess every fraud, libel, and slander case should be thrown out, then?

Libel and slander are civil actions. Fraud is a criminal matter. You're mixing them all together. Secondly, aren't you talking about preventing someone from distributing information you consider a lie in the first place? That's censorship because of the prior restraint aspect. Suing someone for libel or slander after the fact is not censorship.
posted by Justinian at 5:03 PM on May 25, 2011


KathrynT: this is exactly what I was talking about. your entire argument hinges on the word phrase "reputable study". you assume that I (and others) don't know what scientific method is or how it works, but I don't think that's it. these people don't trust the people performing the studies.

they. think. they. are. being. lied. to.

and often, they are.
posted by mrPalomar72 at 5:09 PM on May 25, 2011


"many of these people have seen what they feel is a direct causal relationship between the MMR vaccine and autism, and when given the choice between trusting what they've seen (or think they've seen) and trusting some nebulous entity that belongs to a larger group of untrustworthy entities, they're trusting themselves."

And we've known they're wrong, incontrovertibly, since 2002. Think for a moment how one could really prove or disprove a link between MMR and autism. It would be hard, you would need a massive data set to show that kids who got the MMR became autistic more often than kids who didn't, because most kids get the vaccine and autism is very rare.

Fortunately it just so happens that during the whole crisis there was already a study being done on every single child born in Denmark between January 1991 and December 1998 and they kept track of MMR compliance and autism spectrum disorder occurrence data. They ended up with 537,303 children in the cohort (representing 2,129,864 person-years), 440,655 (82.0 percent) of whom had received the MMR vaccine. Surely this is a study big enough to generate the kinds of p-values you would need to generate a trust-able answer.

They found absolutely no correlation. Keep in mind that this isn't corporations trying to sell anything, or hell even a study that could have been gamed because this wasn't even its focus. It is of course also open source with everything not personally identifiable. There are some questions in this world that do have right answers, this is fortunately one of them.

"they. think. they. are. being. lied. to.

and often, they are.
"

Unfortunately they are right, this whole anti-vaxxing business is built on a lie.
posted by Blasdelb at 5:14 PM on May 25, 2011 [5 favorites]


these people don't trust the people performing the studies.

they. think. they. are. being. lied. to.

and often, they are.


Yeah, that whole thing with Wakefield's study being actually published in a reputable journal? A scandal. It's a good thing that they've refuted it; that was a stain on its reputation, and it's good to know that clearly misleading information eventually was disproven-- in fact revealed to be a tissue of lies-- and that rigorous scientific enquiry and the long slow process of investigation and experiment moves on.
posted by jokeefe at 5:16 PM on May 25, 2011


Damn you, Blasdelb.
posted by jokeefe at 5:16 PM on May 25, 2011


i am so sick of people dismissing the anti-vaccine crowd as whack-jobs who don't know how infallible and altruistic scientists and scientific institutions are. most of this comes down to a fundamental mistrust of the institutions that are disseminating information about vaccines and isn't being helped any by the fact that we are *constantly* being lied to for monetary or political gain or ??? (Baxter Labs anyone?).

I googled Baxter Labs just to find out what mrPalomar72 was referring to, and among the usual corporate profile on the first page of results, I found this.
As the anticipated release date for Baxter's A/H1N1 flu pandemic vaccine approaches, an Austrian investigative journalist is warning the world that the greatest crime in the history of humanity is underway. Jane Burgermeister has recently filed criminal charges with the FBI against the World Health Organization (WHO), the United Nations (UN), and several of the highest ranking government and corporate officials concerning bioterrorism and attempts to commit mass murder.

She has also prepared an Injunction against forced vaccination which is being filed in America. These actions follow her charges filed in April, 2009 against Baxter AG and Avir Green Hills Biotechnology of Austria (for producing 158 POUNDS of contaminated bird flu vaccine, (the weight of a very big human being but enough to inject a million people,) alleging this was a deliberate act to cause and profit from a pandemic. (Though the deliberate MURDERING OFF of us "USELESS EATERS" might be the case seeing that GOVERNMENTS were in COLLUSION on this VAC JOB and still are, as FEMA is indicating that if we do not let ourselves get injected we will be imprisioned!)
I'm sorry, you were saying something about anti-vax parents were being dismissed as whack-jobs? It might help if you tried to back that up with, you know, something that wasn't insane.
posted by jokeefe at 5:24 PM on May 25, 2011 [3 favorites]


I'm sorry, but even putting aside issues of whether the study is truthful or reputable, it's not too hard to imagine things that weren't controlled for or taken into account in that study.

Is there something in the genetics of Danes that makes them immune to the autism-causing effects of the MMR vaccine? Is it possible that there are variances in the vaccine that are not controlled for that can cause autism in some cases? Have the procedures for creating the vaccine changed since the study was done, or are there parts of the process that aren't controlled for (because we don't think they matter) that have changed or can vary?

Sure, they're way out there questions, and sure, the answers may be known to those who take the time to dig through the information, but it's not hard to imagine where the doubt can come from when you take into account all of those factors.

FWIW, I'm not even saying I personally feel that the vaccine does cause autism, what I'm saying is that a lot of people come across as thinking "anyone who doesn't believe the science is an idiot", and that's most surely not the case.
posted by mrPalomar72 at 5:29 PM on May 25, 2011


You don't have to imagine them. That's why studies are published. You can read and criticize them based on actual facts instead of flaws that you are imagining.

Someone who isn't willing to dig through information but insists on imagining that things are wrong based on their own biases aren't necessarily idiots, but when they're outspoken, they're obnoxious and misleading.
posted by the young rope-rider at 5:32 PM on May 25, 2011 [6 favorites]


jokeefe: how about bloomberg
posted by mrPalomar72 at 5:33 PM on May 25, 2011


If you were an idiot in the conventional sense your stance would be forgivable, but being smart enough to know better means you are lazy and reckless with other people's health.
posted by docpops at 5:35 PM on May 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


So Baxter admitted to a screw up and this confirms your certainty that you are being lied to. I pity whoever you entrust your health care to.
posted by docpops at 5:36 PM on May 25, 2011


In that Bloomberg story, some ferrets died. I feel bad for the ferrets. I feel worse for any person who gets gravely ill or dies because some people are convinced that vaccination's real or imaginary risks are greater than the real costs of letting people free ride on herd immunity for thee, not for me.
posted by maudlin at 5:40 PM on May 25, 2011


jokeefe: More Baxter fun...

young rope-rider & docpops: sorry, but neither of you know how reckless i am with people's health or my own. Never did I say that i've been going around advising people to avoid the MMR vaccine.

fwiw, the point of my comments was not to say what i feel about the vaccine or the science behind it (if you'll notice I made no comment to that), but to try to point out that not everyone who has a different opinion on this is an idiot, which i felt was a common attitude in the comments here and elsewhere.
posted by mrPalomar72 at 5:42 PM on May 25, 2011


This thread is making me itchy...
posted by BlooPen at 5:44 PM on May 25, 2011 [1 favorite]



i am so sick of people dismissing the anti-vaccine crowd as whack-jobs who don't know how infallible and altruistic scientists and scientific institutions are. most of this comes down to a fundamental mistrust of the institutions that are disseminating information about vaccines and isn't being helped any by the fact that we are *constantly* being lied to for monetary or political gain or ??? (Baxter Labs anyone?).


Nobody is demanding that you regard scientists and scientific institutions as infallible (unless the Pope declares them thus, and does so ex cathedra, of course.) But you do have a moral and civic duty to remember that the diseases these vaccines protect against have their own dangers, real ones. Like excruciating premature death. And that by forgoing the vaccines you are putting other people in danger, not just yourself.
posted by ocschwar at 5:49 PM on May 25, 2011


And as I pointed out upthread, what makes this all so much more sickening is that the biggest advocates of not vaccinating and the most well versed in its theology are people with above average intellect. It's fucking shameful, and there isn't a middle ground here. No one said vaccination was risk free, just that the risks conjured up to date are as grounded in reality as a Starbucks on Mars.
posted by docpops at 5:51 PM on May 25, 2011


these people don't trust the people performing the studies.

Then what do you trust? I mean, if you don't trust the scientific method and peer review, what do you trust?

they. think. they. are. being. lied. to.

and often, they are.


By whom?

And again, these intelligent people who don't vax: do they take other precautions to avoid minimizing the risk their children pose to the community? Or do they figure that they made the choice to avoid the risks of vaccination, and screw the premature babies or people on chemo or pregnant women or what-have-you who are out there? I've never once met a non-vaxer who does. . . but I've met plenty who lie to daycares and other organizations so that they don't have to bear the burden of the consequences to their actions. That's sickening.
posted by KathrynT at 6:02 PM on May 25, 2011 [3 favorites]


I'm sorry, but even putting aside issues of whether the study is truthful or reputable, it's not too hard to imagine things that weren't controlled for or taken into account in that study.

And yet there are those who still place all their faith in Wakefield, who has been credibly (more credibly than in that suit filed against Baxter) found to have committed fraud in his "research." Doubts and skepticism are all very well, but your mind shouldn't be so open that your brains fall out.
posted by rtha at 6:06 PM on May 25, 2011 [3 favorites]


While I agree with the anger out there and have said that not vaccinating kids is akin to drunk driving (something I still strongly believe), one thing I wonder is how to reach these people. Telling people they are stupid, pounding them with facts to prove them wrong, and getting angry only serves to reinforce their position, no matter how paranoid and irrational it is. The anti-vaxxers, are conspiracy theorists, although they of course, do not identify themselves as such.

I see a few ways out of this- the simplest and most straightforward is to remove any and all philosophical and religious exemptions to vaccines that currently exists in state laws. 47 states allow for religious exemption, 16 allow for philosophical exemption. 3, somehow, do not. Following the example of those three (they allow solely for medical exemption) would be the easiest and most straightforward way to squash this.

The only other way is to sway emotionally people away from this belief. In Why People Believe Weird Things Michael Shermer talks about how smart people who believe "weird things" are very good with coming up with smart reasons for believing in non-smart things. Because they are used to being correct and know they are smart, their resistance is greater than those who do not think that they know more than most people. I'm not sure how to go about doing this, although I think an angry mother confronting Jenny McCarthy about a dead infant would do wonders. This is of course, stepping down to Republican level of dirty tricks, but these are the people who issue death threats against anyone who speaks out against them.
posted by Hactar at 6:21 PM on May 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


Faint of Butt: Can we pass a law that says you can't board an airplane unless you present proof of vaccination? I just want to see what happens.

Count me in on this since i'm stuck in my house right now with Whooping Cough, caught when someone already infected decided to catch the same flight as me to Melbourne.
(I was vaccinated though and chances are the person who infected me was also, but i'm frustrated and want someone to jab at for this predicament, dammit.)

I started my first job in 5 years (long story) only 2 weeks ago and am now off work for at least two weeks, for the entire testing/antibiotics cycle. And it turns out, it doesn't make a great impression on a new boss when you have to call and say 'Hey! I may have inadvertantly exposed your staff and their families to a disease potentially deadly to children and the elderly. Oops!'

This fuckery is avoidable, please vaccinate..!
posted by pseudonymph at 6:27 PM on May 25, 2011 [3 favorites]


a moral and civic duty

To what degree forcing a not-risk-free procedure on those in one's care to render a not-directly-quantifiable reduction in risk to the world at large is a moral and civic duty is I think one of the underlying problems. There is a category of philosophical problem like this - would you jump off a bridge to your death to save a trainload of people? would you allow through inaction someone to fall off a bridge to their death to save a trainload of people? would you push someone off a bridge to save a trainload of people? to possibly die to possibly save them? etc. The orders of magnitude of the risks don't really alter the difficulty of the problem on a philosophical level.

People gladly embrace other risks they feel are true moral imperatives, like sending their sons off to war. But even then one may conscientiously object!
posted by BinGregory at 6:51 PM on May 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


BinGregory,

That is an awfully tricky moral question, but thankfully with each of the vaccines deemed mandatory in minors in the United States it is completely avoided by the fact that the reduction in risk to the individual is directly quantifiable, along with the associated risk to the community, and is in fact easily greater than the risk of vaccination.
posted by Blasdelb at 7:10 PM on May 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


To what degree forcing a not-risk-free procedure on those in one's care to render a not-directly-quantifiable reduction in risk to the world at large is a moral and civic duty is I think one of the underlying problems.

That is why I said moral and civic duty, not legal duty. Part of being in a large civilization is adhering to rules of morality, ethics, and etiquette, to spare our government the trouble of making these rules law.
posted by ocschwar at 7:27 PM on May 25, 2011


thankfully with each of the vaccines deemed mandatory in minors in the United States it is completely avoided by the fact that the reduction in risk to the individual is directly quantifiable

I don't think any of the vaccines are mandatory otherwise there wouldn't be any opt-outs.
posted by delmoi at 7:35 PM on May 25, 2011


I recently joined a playgroup with other "hippie" type moms and actually found an anti-vaxer in the wild. I had been chatting with a friend about my son's reaction to his first round of vaccines and she piped up about how she and her husband decided not to vaccinate their son because they felt Western Medicine was going too far. (She also said they had trouble finding a pediatrician who would "respect" this decision. Yeah. That's because it's a PUBLIC HEALTH risk, but why would a DOCTOR care about THAT?)

I had to fight the impulse to conspicuously distance my child from hers. Thankfully, being a mere ten weeks old, my child wasn't going to get any closer of his own accord.

I'm allergic to the pertussis vaccine - and I mentioned this to her - which is why it's particularly important to me that my son is vaccinated. (Because if I got it and gave it to him, that would SUCK.) Her response: "Oh that's ok, it's not fatal in adults." (Um. Thanks? I'll just go ahead and contract pertussis now! It'll be awesome!)

So, uh, she did kind of acknowledge in a sort of sidelong way that pertussis is fatal in children and if you're not vaccinated, you have a chance of catching it and she's... not vaccinating her child. My mind. It boggles.

The most mind boggling part is really that other than this, she's a really smart and sweet person and I like her. I just really don't like this particular crazy path she's decided to go down.
posted by sonika at 7:37 PM on May 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


To people who would rather their kids get chicken pox the "natural way": I have no immunity to this disease. I've been exposed to it and vaccinated against it and I have no immunity, so I can catch it again, easily.

I am currently pregnant. If I were to catch chicken pox now from an unvaccinated child, it could kill or permanently disable my baby.

Not vaccinating your children because you think chicken pox isn't serious is really shortsighted and ignores the dangers this disease can pose to the vulnerable, like my unborn child, elderly people, the immune-compromised, and so on.

(And as the sister of an autistic man, I intend to fully vaccinate my children.)
posted by jasperella at 7:41 PM on May 25, 2011 [3 favorites]



I'm allergic to the pertussis vaccine - and I mentioned this to her - which is why it's particularly important to me that my son is vaccinated. (Because if I got it and gave it to him, that would SUCK.) Her response: "Oh that's ok, it's not fatal in adults." (Um. Thanks? I'll just go ahead and contract pertussis now! It'll be awesome!)


Oh, yeah. You won't die. You'll just cough so hard you'll break a rib or two.

And as if that's not bad enough, because pertusis is bacterial, herd immunity is a lot more important. Even a low level of infection in society gives the bacterium a chance to evolve. And by evolve, I mean change the shape of the proteins it presents the immune system.

Which lowers the efficacy of the current vaccine. Pertusis presents 31 antigens to the body. The vaccine is composed of 5. The bacterium may already be evolving to reshape those 5, which will force big pharma to change the vaccine.

I have to wonder if my children will live in a world where people listen to kindertottenlieder songs again.
posted by ocschwar at 7:45 PM on May 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


And another thing, it's funny how anti-vaxxers (and birthers, and moon landing conspiracists and so on) are unwilling to trust data that's been rigorously assessed and peer-reviewed and yet any crazy page on the Internet is believable.
posted by jasperella at 7:45 PM on May 25, 2011 [4 favorites]


According to the CDC's VAERS online database (via Wonder), so far this year there have been 15 deaths, 40 life-threatening reactions, and 13 permanently disabling reactions to vaccinations. Last year, 114 deaths.

I live in a small community in WA State and a lot of the people I know who are anti-vax cite concerns like the sorts of reactions you see in this database. It's not just autism people are afraid of.
posted by sugarbiscuit at 8:13 PM on May 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


Oh, I also meant to say that I don't think the CDC qualifies as "any crazy page on the internet."
posted by sugarbiscuit at 8:15 PM on May 25, 2011


Dammit, this is exactly the kind of thing that causes the problem we're having. That is not what the VAERS database says. Do you know what the VAERS database is?
posted by Justinian at 8:23 PM on May 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


I am unreasonably angry at sugarbiscuit's comment.
posted by Justinian at 8:31 PM on May 25, 2011


Yes, I understand that VAERS does not establish causation, just correlation and even coincidence. I also understand that VAERS is a voluntary reporting system. Any person can report an incident and I certainly understand the implications of that.

My point is that there are other perspectives from the anti-vax community and most seem to get lumped into the vaccines cause autism groups. But like someone mentioned earlier, I can totally relate to the mistrust of the corporations producing these medications. I also find it reasonable to suspect that lots of funding for the research of these vaccinations comes from the same people who stand to benefit financially. (and I say suspect because I honestly have no idea).

I mean, really, who do you trust? Your friend from the playgroup whose son has autism and she would bet her right arm that the MMR caused it? Or "they"? I can see how a lot of people would go with the trusted friend.
posted by sugarbiscuit at 8:55 PM on May 25, 2011


So, basically, a la Senator Kyl, you didn't intend to make a factual statement? Because you said that according to the CDC there were 114 deaths from vaccinations last year. That's what you said.
posted by Justinian at 9:25 PM on May 25, 2011


According to the CDC's VAERS online database (via Wonder), so far this year there have been 15 deaths, 40 life-threatening reactions, and 13 permanently disabling reactions to vaccinations. Last year, 114 deaths.

That's a rather small number. Let's make the incredibly conservative, completely implausible assumption that every one of those reactions was directly caused by vaccination and would not have occurred absent vaccination. According to the VARES homepage, more than 10 million vaccines/year are given to children under the age of 1 alone. Millions more are given to older children and adults. The risk here pales in comparison to risks we take on all the time without much thought, including death by adverse drug interaction, car accident, or anything else that happens around us. Compare these rates to the tens of thousands of deaths and disabilities caused by polio in a single year in the US alone.

And as others have pointed out above, VAERS just collects reports of negative events that have occurred in proximity to vaccinations. In the vast majority of these cases, there is no evidence of causation besides temporal locality. So it's not really even correct to say that there were "40 life-threatening reactions," as there were really 40 life-threatening events that could have been related to a recent vaccination.

Remember that several people are injured and killed each year by vending machines.
posted by zachlipton at 9:37 PM on May 25, 2011 [3 favorites]


Remember that several people are injured and killed each year by vending machines.

Hey, I just got a great idea for vaccine administration!

*runs to patent office*
posted by Sys Rq at 9:44 PM on May 25, 2011


Oh, yeah. You won't die. You'll just cough so hard you'll break a rib or two.

Don't forget the part where you're throwing up so hard that you vomit, 8-10 times a day! Your back has been wrenched out by this, and your stomach muscles are so sore that regular coughing is painful on its own. It's fun*!



*Spoiler - I have cruelly misled you! It's totally not.
posted by pseudonymph at 9:49 PM on May 25, 2011


So, basically, a la Senator Kyl, you didn't intend to make a factual statement? Because you said that according to the CDC there were 114 deaths from vaccinations last year. That's what you said.

No, it's really not what I said. I said that lots of people I know are afraid of vaccinations not just for autism but for other scary possibilities that they may have heard first-hand or maybe they read online from the presumably trustworthy CDC (forgive the regular humans for not understanding statistics and/or reading the disclaimer on the website).

I've always been a little surprised by the quick-to-condemn attitude against anti-vaxers I've seen Metafilter. I totally understand herd-immunity...I'm in nursing school and I have negative titers for Rubella even after 5 MMR vaccinations in my life. But I still have compassion for the people who are conflicted by the information that's out there, wanting simply to have a trustworthy source of information to make decisions that will affect the most precious things: their children...
posted by sugarbiscuit at 9:56 PM on May 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


No, it's really not what I said.
...
According to the CDC's VAERS online database (via Wonder), so far this year there have been 15 deaths, 40 life-threatening reactions, and 13 permanently disabling reactions to vaccinations. Last year, 114 deaths.

One of these things is not like the other.
posted by Justinian at 9:58 PM on May 25, 2011 [3 favorites]


I've always been a little surprised by the quick-to-condemn attitude against anti-vaxers I've seen Metafilter.

Why? It's a genuine matter of life and death-- if the percentage of vaccinated children and adults goes down to a certain amount, then diseases spread and reoccur. That's the simple fact of the matter. Anti-vaxxers may be sincere about wanting to protect their children, but they seem to have no idea what polio or diptheria or measles can actually do.
posted by jokeefe at 10:00 PM on May 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


I mean, really, who do you trust?

114 deaths.
Versus how many for people that were vaccinated from the diseases they were vaccinated against?

I trust logic and reason.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 12:25 AM on May 26, 2011


jasperella, I feel I need to explain the Swedish Health Care system (as me and three blind mice live here) as I think it has an effect on the attitude toward Chicken Pox.

Most (nearly all) vaccines are mandatory* at specific ages during the early years of child development, and if you want optional ones (say a Gamma globulin shot to prevent Hep A before a vacation) there's discounted vaccines available at clinics. So everyone who is a child in Sweden is vaccinated, unless there's good reason not to (allergies). The parents are not out of pocket for this. Even the Hep B vaccine is given at three months if the child is in a risk group. The varicella vaccine (Swedish page) has only been given to risk groups, and is now offered to children where a young sibling is due to arrive to prevent the risk of older sibling passing it to a baby. They are now considering putting this vaccine in the "allmänna barnvaccinationsprogrammet" (universal child immunization program). Imagine a country where everyone is vaccinated against almost everything, except varicella, and you might understand the strange attitude here better. Like the one I encountered where my daughters preschool teachers thought it was a Good Thing™ she had "gotten it over with" when she was so young, while I hated that she ever had to meet that virus since I still have slight nerve damage from shingles. I only found out there was a possibility to get that vaccination here recently, when my neighbor who has a young baby at home and a three year complained that she had hoped to vaccinate her older child against it, but the kid managed to foil her plans by picking the virus up at preschool last week. The preschool where the teachers again thought it was a Good Thing™ she had contacted the virus early (forgetting the risk to the baby at home). Only the bird-flu vaccine was a choice here. We opted out.

* at least I think they're mandatory, nobody ever tells you there's an option and you can't enter school without vaccinations done. I might be wrong.
posted by dabitch at 2:16 AM on May 26, 2011


Fucking hell! Those of us actually sitting in research groups right now aren't making up data. We aren't coercing volunteers. We aren't crunching numbers so that they look good. We have studies that fail despite DESPERATELY wanting them to succeed so that we can SAVE LIVES! We have oversight by so many committees we have 3 full time employees just managing the regulatory portion of the trials. We have not taken a pen or a note pad, much less a lunch or a holiday basket from a pharmaceutical company in over 5 years.

It's not like the pharma companies just come up with some shit and sell it to the unsuspecting parents of innocent children. There are trials run by universities and hospitals first. Does that mean that we never screw up? No. But we're not out to cause horrible disorders in children nor are we out to getcha.
posted by Sophie1 at 6:49 AM on May 26, 2011 [15 favorites]


Here’s a story about my experience with the measles vaccine.
A few years ago I was studying Spanish in Ecuador. One evening while hanging out at a gringo-type bar with some German friends, the director of our school came to our table and asked to speak with “Hans.” The director assured him it was not a big deal. About 30 minutes later, Hans came back shaking his head.

“It’s like something out of a bad movie!” He kept saying.
“So? What happened?” The rest of us asked.

His face had been ALL over the national news for the entire day. A national emergency (or something like that) had been called because a flight from Italy to Guayaquil had a woman on it with measles. A case had not been reported in the country for 50 years, I was told. She was quarantined in a hospital, but everyone on the flight was tracked down to test and administer a vaccine. Except Hans (who was on that flight) was nowhere to be found and the government plastered a copy of his passport all over the news.

The only way the director knew was because his wife was watching TV and the news said that authorities were searching for him. He was the only person they could not find.

To make matters worse, and this is where the “bad movie” part comes in, the news had initially reported that HE was the one who had measles and was running amok in the country, exposing everyone. They thought he was patient zero for one of the largest health scares in the country (supposedly) for 50 years. But once the health care workers, police, and others of that type spoke with him, they realized that he was not a risk. He still had to get an immediate vaccine.

The next day the national health authorities came to our school and required us to get vaccinated against measles, unless we could prove otherwise. Some of the students freaked out a bit because they didn’t trust “third world” medicine. But one threatened with two weeks of quarantine and then immediate deportation, they acquiesced. Not only us but the director, his family, our host families, their children, and the students at all local schools had to get vaccinated. By the way, they didn't charge anyone for it.

Any foreigner who was vaccinated was given a card and we were required to present it to authorities upon exiting the country. Everyone affiliated with Hans was supposedly in a database for government tracking.

Short version: Ecuador instigated a nation-wide hunt for a (false) patient zero due to fear of a measles outbreak. They mandated everyone affiliated with this person, and by a degree of separation, to get vaccinated or risk quarantine and deportation.
posted by Captain Sunshine at 7:12 AM on May 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


KathrynT : but I've met plenty who lie to daycares and other organizations so that they don't have to bear the burden of the consequences to their actions. That's sickening.

As angry as the willful ignorance that surrounds this issue makes me, It honestly never occurred to me that people would not vaccinate and then lie about it.

And now I am way, way angrier about this.
posted by quin at 7:25 AM on May 26, 2011


Its Oprah's fault
posted by Seymour Zamboni at 7:36 AM on May 26, 2011


Nature has a couple of good articles today, about uptake of the measels vaccine and hopes for eradication and about vaccine safety concerns in general. They seem to be written for intelligent non-scientists, so are definitely worth a read if you're interested in the data and reasoning behind the "debate".
posted by metaBugs at 7:49 AM on May 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


That second link should be: vaccine safety concerns.

I'm bad at HTML today for some reason.
posted by metaBugs at 7:50 AM on May 26, 2011


mrPalomar72's More Baxter fun... link leads to a very confusing wikipedia article. After some digging, it is becoming clear that the Japanese people got infected with HIV from contaminated blood products because the Japanese Green Croos (with some help from the protectionist Japanese Government) DID NOT USE Baxter's heat treated products, and instead claimed that Japanese untreated products were safe.

I have no idea what else Baxter does, if they kill puppies for fun on casual Fridays or if the are the most altruistic company of the world. What I do know is that it is typical antivaxxer behavior to link to studies using link text or headlines that contradict what the studies say, or to link to distorting tertiary sources while discrediting the primary ones. I guess they trust the choir will just cut out the headline and paste it on the fridge door, without reading even the first line of the articles.
posted by Dr. Curare at 11:07 AM on May 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


Apparently accepting that some have an unwillingness to read (with no corresponding unwillingness to write) is key to understanding and sympathizing with vocal anti-vaxers.

It's RTFA on a massive, risky, and extremely dangerous scale.
posted by the young rope-rider at 12:17 PM on May 26, 2011


(for "extremely dangerous" please substitute "extremely frustrating")
posted by the young rope-rider at 12:18 PM on May 26, 2011


Rinderpest, the bovine equivalent of measles, has been declared eradicated. This is only the second disease ever to be eradicated.
posted by OmieWise at 3:55 AM on May 27, 2011


Hah. Anti-vaxxers: Stupider than cows.
posted by Justinian at 12:21 PM on May 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


My BFF once had a fellow mom say to her "Polio wasn't that bad."
posted by bq at 9:15 AM on June 1, 2011


New measles cases in Coventry spark vaccinations plea
Outbreaks of measles are currently being reported in 24 European countries, including Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Romania, Russia, Spain and Turkey.
posted by dabitch at 10:07 AM on June 12, 2011


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