"one of the strictest school vaccination laws in the country"
June 30, 2015 8:06 PM   Subscribe

California Gov. Jerry Brown signs new vaccination law, one of nation's toughest "The bill, one of the most controversial measures before the Legislature this year, was introduced because of concern about low vaccination rates in some communities and an outbreak of measles at Disneyland that ultimately infected more than 150 people." (LA Times)

Time Magazine's coverage: "Parents who decline to vaccinate their children for personal or religious reasons will have to home-school them or send them to a public independent study program off school grounds."

From Yahoo! News:
"The bill has proved contentious, with thousands of parents calling representatives and protesting at the Capitol. One state senator said pushback has been so fierce that he briefly closed his district office out of concerns for his staff's safety. Amid this intensity, the bill passed through four legislative committees and survived votes in both houses. The Senate on Monday approved amendments to the bill, and the governor signed it less than 24 hours later."
The high-profile social media backlash has begun.

Previously: Mickey had the measles
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome (182 comments total) 57 users marked this as a favorite
 
As California goes...
posted by Cash4Lead at 8:19 PM on June 30, 2015 [8 favorites]


So proud of California for standing up for its children and getting rid of the ridiculous "personal belief" and "religious" exemptions. I'm sorry, you don't get to jeopardize the health and lives of my children because you refuse to provide your children with basic medical care. It's just unfortunate that the legislature entered into a political compromise to "grandfather" in unvaccinated children already in schools until they are in seventh grade (and the law doesn't take effect until next year). So it will be 8 years before California schoolchildren are fully protected. I also wonder how long it will take for anti-vaxxers to find unethical doctors to provide them with "medical" exemptions - there are already plenty of quacks out there with medical licenses who preach the anti-vaxx gospel.
posted by Mallenroh at 8:21 PM on June 30, 2015 [108 favorites]


Happy for California today.
posted by oceanjesse at 8:22 PM on June 30, 2015 [5 favorites]


I'm a huge fan of this law. I have a place in Nevada County and something like 50% of the kids are unvaccinated; appalling. 10,000 kids had whooping cough last year in California, including one who died. Fuck that.

OTOH I'm really surprised to see no religious exemption in the law. I'm glad for it, I have little patience for superstitions that kill children. But I don't think it'd pass constitutional muster. Is there some precedent either way?
posted by Nelson at 8:24 PM on June 30, 2015 [7 favorites]



‏@JimCarrey
California Gov says yes to poisoning more children with mercury and aluminum in manditory vaccines. This corporate fascist must be stopped.

Just when I thought you couldn't possibly be any dumber, you go and do something like this. End of sentence.
posted by Drinky Die at 8:24 PM on June 30, 2015 [65 favorites]


I hope Gov. Brown doesn't have to call in the suede denim secret police to enforce this law.
posted by The Tensor at 8:26 PM on June 30, 2015 [94 favorites]


I suspect the only downside is yet more paperwork to register your kids for school which will disproportionately affect poor and immigrant families, especially Latinos.

I guarantee every school in California will prevent a handful of kids from registering over a lack of paperwork.

Although otherwise all in favour of this.
posted by GuyZero at 8:27 PM on June 30, 2015 [2 favorites]


I hope Gov. Brown doesn't have to call in the suede denim secret police to enforce this law.

Why - is your niece uncool?
posted by item at 8:31 PM on June 30, 2015 [48 favorites]


As a Californian and a parent I am very happy about this law. Fuck anyone who wants to expose my child to risk because of their half-baked superstition.
posted by univac at 8:32 PM on June 30, 2015 [23 favorites]


@JimCarrey
California Gov says yes to poisoning more children with mercury and aluminum in manditory vaccines. This corporate fascist must be stopped.


Remember when it used to be funny when Jim Carrey talked out of his ass?
posted by Atom Eyes at 8:33 PM on June 30, 2015 [163 favorites]


I guarantee every school in California will prevent a handful of kids from registering over a lack of paperwork.

On the other hand, since I'm 95% sure you're eligible for medicaid even if you're not a citizen, hopefully this'll get more folks into the system.
posted by Going To Maine at 8:38 PM on June 30, 2015 [3 favorites]


I am normally for the government to stay out of people's private lives, but this law is exactly what government is supposed to do, protect the common good. If you are going to participate in public schools, participate in herd immunization. No worries if you don't, home school them.
posted by AugustWest at 8:39 PM on June 30, 2015 [21 favorites]


The clinic system that my doctors are in here in Austin has just announced it won't take new patients without vaccinations. I'm delighted. I also count as immune-compromised, so it's personally good for me.

As much as I'd love it if Texas followed California's lead (ha), I'm not under the illusion that Texas will pass any law that limits religious exemptions to anything the state does these days.
posted by immlass at 8:41 PM on June 30, 2015 [12 favorites]


I want to amend my previous comment. I'm not "very happy," I'm relieved that our children will have some protection against the recklessness of the anti-vax nuts. But I'm concerned this law may be too generous toward them, and I wonder what risk their children pose outside of school hours.
posted by univac at 8:42 PM on June 30, 2015 [5 favorites]


That poor kid in Spain died a couple of days ago from diptheria.

Just one plane ride away.
posted by Mary Ellen Carter at 8:44 PM on June 30, 2015 [3 favorites]


There is no legal basis to require a religious exemption. States can and do take children away from their parents when parents deny medical care for "religious" reasons and the children are harmed (think of religions that only recognize "prayer" as an acceptable response to life-threatening illness or injury). Free exercise of religion does not trump the wellbeing of children and governments have a compelling interest in public health. See Prince v. Massachusetts: "Acting to guard the general interest in youth's well being, the state as parens patriae may restrict the parent's control by requiring school attendance regulating or prohibiting the child's labor, and in many other ways.Its authority is not nullified merely because the parent grounds his claim to control the child's course of conduct on religion or conscience. Thus, he cannot claim freedom from compulsory vaccination for the child more than for himself on religious grounds. The right to practice religion freely does not include liberty to expose the community or the child to communicable disease or the latter to ill health or death."
posted by Mallenroh at 8:46 PM on June 30, 2015 [46 favorites]


Antivaxxers laugh at the gullible sheeple with their belief in "doctors" and the "FDA" over websites that look like they were moved from Geocities to Livejournal before settling on naturalgreenparentingwithessentialoilsomething.info. It is mind boggling.

I suspect the only downside is yet more paperwork to register your kids for school which will disproportionately affect poor and immigrant families, especially Latinos.

I would agree, except apparently there is no need to fear. Latinos are vigilant about vaccinations, since their families recently came from places where vaccines are still considered wonderful and amazing things.
posted by gatorae at 8:47 PM on June 30, 2015 [58 favorites]


I guarantee every school in California will prevent a handful of kids from registering over a lack of paperwork.

The paperwork - unlike government ID - is actually pretty easy to get. My son's mother wouldn't release his immunization records to me so I could enroll him in school, so the doctor did some tests and some boosters and bada boom, done. It was all of two visits. Not nothing, sure, but far from onerous.

getting his birth certificate required going to his birth town with two forms of ID for me, and a signed, notarized, original copy of my adjudication of paternity. That was a three day ordeal, not counting travel time.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 8:49 PM on June 30, 2015 [5 favorites]


Awesome, California is now enabling slightly less child abuse. Next step: no exemptions, period, except for documented and tested medical reasons.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 8:55 PM on June 30, 2015 [8 favorites]


It's a real shame that Gov. Brown got tagged with the "Moonbeam" epithet and had "wilderness" years before resuming his career in Oakland. He's quite good at this whole governing business, and yet California had to suffer through Deukmeijan, Wilson, Davis and Schwarzenegger to realize it.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 8:57 PM on June 30, 2015 [41 favorites]


> OTOH I'm really surprised to see no religious exemption in the law.

Isn't it a moot point, anyway? I thought there weren't actually any religions that forbade vaccinations.
posted by The corpse in the library at 8:58 PM on June 30, 2015 [5 favorites]


I remember when I was a kid in the 1980's, they just lined us all up in the school library and gave us the oral polio vaccine without even consulting our parents. Mom and Dad didn't even know about it until I happened to mention it when I got home.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 8:59 PM on June 30, 2015 [23 favorites]


America is totally trying to steal all of Canada's thunder!
posted by srboisvert at 8:59 PM on June 30, 2015 [2 favorites]


Regarding paperwork, California's public health system is pretty good and you don't really hear about people who want vaccinations for children being unable to get them due to bureaucracy or poverty. I'm not saying it can't happen, but ALL of the outcry over this bill was from vaccine protestors who refuse vaccinations, not people who want them but have been unable to get them.
posted by Mallenroh at 9:00 PM on June 30, 2015 [4 favorites]


I thought there weren't actually any religions that forbade vaccinations.

Wiki: Vaccination and religion
posted by Confess, Fletch at 9:01 PM on June 30, 2015 [5 favorites]


I thought there weren't actually any religions that forbade vaccinations.

The Church of Jesus Christ, Scientist basically forbids contact with doctors.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 9:02 PM on June 30, 2015 [1 favorite]


OTOH I'm really surprised to see no religious exemption in the law.

It's a loophole big enough to drive a truck through. I can't even tell you how many vaccine questions I've seen on Facebook parenting groups, where moms are regularly urged to lie about having a religious objection, since "the government isn't allowed to double check whether you are lying about your religious beliefs." It's incredibly depressing.
posted by gatorae at 9:06 PM on June 30, 2015 [13 favorites]




Grateful science won out for a change.
posted by dry white toast at 9:07 PM on June 30, 2015 [9 favorites]


My proposed amendment:

Parents who decline to vaccinate their children for personal or religious reasons will have to home-school them or send them to a public independent study program off school grounds be sentenced to 30 days of watching nothing but Jim Carrey movies and re-runs of Singled Out.
posted by tonycpsu at 9:11 PM on June 30, 2015 [8 favorites]


Here in Oregon people can basically say "I won't vaccinate my kid for religious reasons" and that's the end of conversation. No need to describe the specific religion, or establish any connection or history. I have talked to hippies with no religious affiliation who use this excuse because they are convinced vaccinations are harmful (for non-religious reasons).
posted by idiopath at 9:13 PM on June 30, 2015 [3 favorites]


I'm not sure it's science that won out so much as commerce; it's when it hit Disneyland that we saw some action.
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome at 9:18 PM on June 30, 2015 [69 favorites]


It's a real shame that Gov. Brown got tagged with the "Moonbeam" epithet and had "wilderness" years before resuming his career in Oakland. He's quite good at this whole governing business, and yet California had to suffer through Deukmeijan, Wilson...

Rewrite of California Uber Alles by Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy..."Pretty soon I'll be president. You might remember the last one this state sent."
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 9:19 PM on June 30, 2015 [4 favorites]


The Church of Jesus Christ, Scientist basically forbids contact with doctors.

I believe they are kind of backing down on that a bit.

Another article looking at the religious stances: In 2013, John Grabenstein, the executive director for global health and medical affairs for Merck (which may lead conspiracy theorists to claim he is just shilling for Big Pharma), wrote a paper for the journal Vaccine outlining the purported religious objections. His conclusion: The only two religions that have any possible negative stance (though it’s not even clear that they do) on vaccination are Christian Scientists and the Dutch Reformed Church.
-
Grabenstein quotes Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of the Church of Christ, Scientist, as saying, “Rather than quarrel over vaccination, I recommend, if the law demand, that an individual submit to this process, that he obey the law, and then appeal to the gospel to save him from bad physical results.”

So, presumably even they wouldn't be too put out if we got rid of the exemptions.
posted by Drinky Die at 9:19 PM on June 30, 2015 [4 favorites]


God, we are a few generations out from horrible afflictions and people forget. They forget because they are fucking idiots. I can really envision Isaac Asimov's Foundation series where people just up and forget how technology works and rely on the past until it breaks.

Well, actually, if it makes their lives easier in any way, we'd probably preserve it. But other than that.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 9:28 PM on June 30, 2015 [11 favorites]


God, we are a few generations out from horrible afflictions and people forget.

We need to get all the old people in nursing homes to tell all their stories about kids with horrible diseases who died or ended up crippled or on an iron lung or something. My mother told me some of those stories recently and they'll curl your hair.
posted by immlass at 9:31 PM on June 30, 2015 [15 favorites]


Ben Allen, one of the state senators who introduced this bill, is my state senator. He's from Santa Monica, born and raised. He was on the school board before he ran for state senate last year. And one of his donors was Jay Gordon, Jenny McCarthy's pediatrician. Gordon's one of those donors that everyone goes after, and I'm really curious about the kinds of conversations between them that happened between Election Day and now.

Because I'm a campaign finance nerd, I found that Gordon also donated to Richard Pan, the other state senator who introduced SB 277. Pan's also a pediatrician. I really wonder what those conversations were like, too.
posted by RakDaddy at 9:33 PM on June 30, 2015 [15 favorites]


Yeah, my Dad always talks about his brother who had Polio. I think mercury poisoning sounds more fun than that.
posted by Drinky Die at 9:35 PM on June 30, 2015 [6 favorites]


Remember when it used to be funny when Jim Carrey talked out of his ass?

[ericidle] It is in fact a trick question, Jim Carrey was never funny. [/ericidle]
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 9:53 PM on June 30, 2015 [39 favorites]


I suspect the only downside is yet more paperwork to register your kids for school which will disproportionately affect poor and immigrant families, especially Latinos.

I guarantee every school in California will prevent a handful of kids from registering over a lack of paperwork.


My kid had to show his shots records when he registered for school. I thought that was a normal thing. It was a pain, because some of them were from New York and some Texas so we had to get things faxed (doctor's offices: who ever heard of email? Not us!). We could have claimed an exemption, but we keep his medical stuff in a file and just brought it with us. I assume poor families can handle doing that too. There's often a standard form that doctors use.
posted by emjaybee at 9:56 PM on June 30, 2015 [1 favorite]


While my son was under the age of 5, my husband's grandmother literally used to ask me every time she saw me whether I was keeping up with his vaccinations. When she was a young girl she contracted some illness (never definitively diagnosed, but quite possibly measles) that caused encephalitis; when she came out of the fever a lot of her memories were missing and she had to relearn an entire year of school. She said the embarrassment she suffered in falling so far behind her classmates caused her to give up on education and leave school early, which she later deeply regretted. I have not met a person over the age of 65 who does not have some terrible story to tell about the years before vaccination. But I guess people don't listen to their grandparents.
posted by BlueJae at 9:57 PM on June 30, 2015 [78 favorites]


It's bog standard, at least in Ontario, to require providing vaccination records to schools. As in everyone has to do it, and does.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 9:57 PM on June 30, 2015


>> @JimCarrey
>> California Gov says yes to poisoning more children with mercury and aluminum in manditory vaccines. This corporate fascist must be stopped.

> Just when I thought you couldn't possibly be any dumber, you go and do something like this. End of sentence.
> posted by Drinky Die


You didn't bother to read his next tweet:
‏@JimCarrey
They say mercury in fish is dangerous but forcing all of our children to be injected with mercury in thimerosol is no risk. Make sense?
He's reached "Beware! Dihydrogen monoxide!" levels of stupidity.
posted by benito.strauss at 10:04 PM on June 30, 2015 [17 favorites]


makes me wonder if he eats fish, or if he thinks each serving of fish a child gets is roughly as dangerous as a vaccination.

Did Carey get the anti-vaxx disease from McCarthy while they were a couple? That's scary, I hope there's some way we can inoculate the rest of the population.
posted by skewed at 10:13 PM on June 30, 2015 [5 favorites]


Did Carey get the anti-vaxx disease from McCarthy while they were a couple? That's scary, I hope there's some way we can inoculate the rest of the population.

Thank you for interrupting my midnight snark with two horrible thoughts: 1) Anti-vaccination delusions transmitted as an STD, and 2) Jim Carrey naked, ewwwwwwwwww–
posted by kurosawa's pal at 10:16 PM on June 30, 2015 [1 favorite]


Quick! A celebrity has something to say! Let us all listen to the guy who makes utter garbage and looks like a serial killer! Doctor-schmoctor, this is the star of Ace Ventura: Pet Detective here!
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 10:17 PM on June 30, 2015 [4 favorites]


In a democratic society, what do you even do with people who doubt the authority of facts? I mean, besides ignore them.
posted by wires at 10:20 PM on June 30, 2015 [1 favorite]


...what do you even do with people who doubt the authority of facts? I mean, besides ignore them.

Wickerman.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 10:24 PM on June 30, 2015 [28 favorites]


Do your best to convince them their beliefs are wrong as sensitively and respectfully as you can in the circumstances, keeping in mind that we all have our blindspots. Sometimes though, the non-facts just win. In that case, I recommend drinking as heavily as you responsibly can.
posted by Drinky Die at 10:26 PM on June 30, 2015 [6 favorites]


In a democratic society, what do you even do with people who doubt the authority of facts? I mean, besides ignore them.

Really, the only thing you can you is patiently refute them, over and over again.

In the longer term, fight for effective science education in schools. Make it clear to existing politicians that you value science and evidence-based policies. Elect politicians who are pro-science and are rational. Make it clear that you are basing your vote on rational policies. Hope that your politicians are willing to lead, and not just pander.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 10:26 PM on June 30, 2015 [5 favorites]


"makes me wonder if he eats fish, or if he thinks each serving of fish a child gets is roughly as dangerous as a vaccination."

It's not even the same compound of mercury--the mercury in thimerosal does not build up in the body.

NOT THAT IT MATTERS, because, thanks to fearmongers, thimerosal was removed from all childhood vaccinations in 200-freakin'-1. (Astonishingly, the number of new autism diagnoses each year has not reduced.)
posted by galadriel at 10:38 PM on June 30, 2015 [32 favorites]


I'm not sure it's science that won out so much as commerce; it's when it hit Disneyland that we saw some action.

That's one way to think about it, but another way to think about it is that Disneyland is an amazing incubator for infectious disease. On a busy day there are almost 100,000 people from all over the world crammed into that place, all of them coughing and sneezing and touching things.

I was there during the outbreak! It was not an especially busy time, but even then you might have 3500 people per hour passing through the queue for e.g. Pirates of the Carribean. Given how virulent measles is, it's very lucky that only 59 people were infected.

"A person with measles can cough in a room, leave, and — if you are unvaccinated — hours later, you could catch the virus from the droplets in the air that they left behind." -- vox

I think this incident scared the hell out of a lot of people and gave the government enough political backing to do something. Democracy in action.
posted by chrchr at 10:38 PM on June 30, 2015 [22 favorites]


Really, the only thing you can you is patiently refute them, over and over again.

Empathy helps too.
posted by shiawase at 10:43 PM on June 30, 2015 [8 favorites]


It is in fact a trick question, Jim Carrey was never funny

He was pretty good in Cable Guy, though.
posted by a lungful of dragon at 10:44 PM on June 30, 2015 [1 favorite]


The Australian National Centre for Immunisation Research and Surveillance has a handy factsheet for people worried about thiomersal, in case any of you are arguing with knuckleheads.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 10:46 PM on June 30, 2015 [4 favorites]


Empathy? for what? They are abusing their children and putting god knows how many other old and/or immunocompromised people at risk. They no more deserve empathy than people who drive drunk. What they need is to have the real results of their anti-factual stupidity rubbed in their stupid arrogant faces until they understand. And have their children vaccinated with or without their consent.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 10:47 PM on June 30, 2015 [13 favorites]


That all sounds very satisfying, but I think the empathy might be a more effective approach.

Most people who are anti-vax aren't anti-vax because they're trying to be evil. They're anti-vax because they're ignorant and worried and selfish.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 10:50 PM on June 30, 2015 [24 favorites]


Jim Carrey was brilliant in In Living Color when he had to be ready to imitate every white celebrity or politician of the early '90s. Since then, like Adam Sandler, he's been really lazy with his movies.
posted by riruro at 10:51 PM on June 30, 2015 [5 favorites]


I don't care whether they're trying to be evil or not. I care about the effects of their stupid and selfish behaviour. Long talks and empathy don't help the children, and indeed my poz friends, who are in danger right now because of these morons.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 11:03 PM on June 30, 2015 [5 favorites]


Like, I don't care about their fee-fees or their stupid beliefs. I don't care if they're worried about danger to their children. Because they are factually and provably wrong, and people who refuse to acknowledge fact must not be allowed to hold society hostage.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 11:08 PM on June 30, 2015 [16 favorites]


I am so, so, so glad. Now I just need to find a way to afford to live in California.
posted by you're a kitty! at 11:10 PM on June 30, 2015


Los Feliz Daycare ‏**We do not accept immunized children**: Please assure children that JURASSIC WORLD is not real and dinosaurs are a thing of the past. Just like measles, mumps and rubella!
posted by benzenedream at 11:15 PM on June 30, 2015 [19 favorites]


I don't care whether they're trying to be evil or not. I care about the effects of their stupid and selfish behaviour. Long talks and empathy don't help the children, and indeed my poz friends, who are in danger right now because of these morons.

OK, I'm not really interested in arguing this with you, but if you want to be effective in fixing this problem, taking an empathetic approach and figuring out why they are making such bad choices, and addressing those root cases, stands a better chance of reducing anti-vax attitudes than just calling them morons and stomping on them. Calling them morons doesn't work. Shoving studies in front of them doesn't work - it may actually make it worse.

Sensible laws like the ones the subject of the FPP treat the symptoms of the anti-vax meme, and limit the damage.

We still have to treat the causes.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 11:16 PM on June 30, 2015 [19 favorites]


Here in Washington state, we passed a law about 3-4 years ago mandating that if you want an exemption from required vaccines, you need to take a form to a doctor and have it signed by them, stating that you've been informed of the health risks and benefits of vaccines and still decline. The rationale behind this wasn't so much to hassle people or make them jump through hoops so much as address the problem of kids who'd fallen behind or who lacked records of vaccines. If you're a stressed out parent trying to register your kid for school, particularly if you are of a certain socioeconomic class and your life is full of chaos, frequent moves, last minute decisions, etc. it was far easier to just opt out "for moral reasons" than to deal with actually going in and getting documentation or booster shots, even if you didn't have a particular objection to vaccines. In some cases, we even had schools trying to hurry people through the process of registration and providing opt out forms to these parents. Now you are required to go in and see a physician anyway and the great majority of these parents are doing the right thing and getting their kids vaccinated.

When the law was first enacted we all were prepared for an onslaught of antivax people with counter arguments and reasoned debate (which I hate because of the conflict it introduces into the doctor-patient relationship and this discussion really doesn't fit easily into a brief office visit when there's other medical work to be done). Anyway, the deluge never materialized and the number of these forms I have filled out is exactly zero. I think it is possible that some parents are gravitating to doctors with a higher tolerance for antivaxers, but I've also had a lot more parents coming in to catch their kids up on shots. It turns out that laziness was a much more common reason for undervaccination than active resistance; at least, this is where the low hanging fruit has been if we are trying to improve vaccine compliance.

California is not Washington, but I suspect this approach would capture a lot of kids there as well. I am pro Big Government mediated social engineering and I support this new California law, but it seems a bit draconian to me and if it kicks kids out of school, I feel bad for the kids who will suffer because of their parents' decisions. I also wonder if it passes constitutional muster. It will be interesting to see how it all plays out.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 11:16 PM on June 30, 2015 [45 favorites]


People are suggesting empathy because they think it gets the job done. When someone has provably wrong thoughts on delicate matters relating to personal health they really get their back up, especially because they think you are the one who is provably wrong. Empathy allows you to tailor a message. I would approach someone differently depending on how they came to the position they did. Are they just ignorant? Do they go all in for this sort of distrust of the medical community in general? Have they, like an acquaintance I know online, lost a child once before and become kind of irrational about health as a consequence of grief? Are they just a blockhead who can never be convinced and you are wasting your time? Empathy isn't about only caring about the feelings of the audience, it's about leveraging those feelings to figure out how best you can help them be persuaded.
posted by Drinky Die at 11:19 PM on June 30, 2015 [13 favorites]


I want to treat the symptoms, I give zero fucks about causes. Therefore, "you are an idiot. You will vaccinate your child or your child will be taken away from you for abuse."

I am way the fuck out of patience for these idiots, climate change deniers, and all the other delusional morons who think we should bow to their refusal of the real world. I'm done giving them time or respect or energy because they are actively harming my life and the lives of people I love.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 11:22 PM on June 30, 2015 [26 favorites]


wires: In a democratic society, what do you even do with people who doubt the authority of facts? I mean, besides ignore them.

His thoughts were red thoughts: Really, the only thing you can you is patiently refute them, over and over again. In the longer term, fight for effective science education in schools. Make it clear to existing politicians that you value science and evidence-based policies. [...]
Yes to all of these. But I would also add, with some reluctance and disappointment, that ridicule also has its place.

No, it's not nice, polite, or likely to change that person's mind. But laughter and humor are nature's bullsh*t detectors. Sometimes they're the quickest way to alert casual observers to absurdity.

Sadly, it turns out there's often little to be gained by arguing facts with people who have no regard for them. For example, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, which of the following four strategies improves the likelihood of a parent vaccinating a child?
1) information from the CDC explaining the lack of evidence that MMR vaccine causes autism;
2) textual information about the dangers of the diseases from the Vaccine Information Statement;
3) images of children who have diseases prevented by MMR vaccine; or
4) a dramatic narrative about an infant who almost died of measles from a CDC fact sheet
Answer: none of the messages increased parents’ intent to vaccinate, and some of them backfired.

Worse, when respectable authorities debate charlatans, they risk boosting the perceived credibility of the charlatan and their conspiracy theories. (See: The Backfire Effect). So, as distasteful as some might find it, the people who are ridiculing Jim Carey et al. may be doing as much or more good than the earnest people who are arguing the facts. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
"Never argue with a crazy person because to casual observers you'll both sound crazy." - ancient Greek saying

"Never argue with stupid people, they will drag you down to their level and then beat you with experience." - Mark Twain
posted by Davenhill at 11:24 PM on June 30, 2015 [43 favorites]


Sorry to continue Carrey derail:
It's just so frustrating that the actor who gave such an excellent performance in perhaps my favourite film Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is batshit insane. I'm one of those naïve/stupid people who want actors to be as intelligent/deep/whatever as their characters. Was it just a fluke or is that just the difference a good director/script makes?
posted by Beware of the leopard at 11:31 PM on June 30, 2015 [4 favorites]


"People say not to touch the hot stove, but then you're supposed to use it to cook your food? No way. Have fun being slaves to Big Kitchen Appliance, sheeple."
posted by aaronetc at 11:41 PM on June 30, 2015 [54 favorites]


I think that and Truman Show were total flukes, personally.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 11:43 PM on June 30, 2015 [3 favorites]


Like, I don't care about their fee-fees or their stupid beliefs.

I totally, totally do not have the emotional energy to invest in arguing why this is actually a complex, nuanced issue right now, because my son is autistic, so the past 18 years have been a horrifying blur of fighting my way through the maze of ignorance, bureaucracy, and half-assed, poorly applied science that constitute huge pieces of our educational and health care systems on behalf of my autistic son, while simultaneously having people tell me what a terrible parent I am because I can't be perfect every second of every day, or care more about their children's theoretical good than my own child's day-to-day struggles. And I have to get up in 4 hours and do it all some more. Many of the people you are insulting, including me, are doing their best in very difficult circumstances.

But I'm glad you don't care about my fee-fees, because you and all the other people saying really hateful things in this thread are actually making me literally cry.


(Not that I should have to make this disclaimer in order to be treated with respect but: I'm an RN. I believe that herd immunity is important. I believe strongly that the MMR and various other vaccines for highly contagious, very dangerous diseases should be mandatory. I feel that some other vaccines that are poorly proven and/or are for diseases that are not very transmissible and/or are seldom fatal should be optional. My son has been vaccinated with about 80% of the recommended vaccine schedule, and we have skipped about 20% because reasons. If you'all need a vaccine by vaccine list and a list of all the reasons so you can decide whether or not you feel comfortable continuing to say I'm a child abuser, just let me know and later when I have more energy, I'll see what I can do to accommodate you).
posted by shiawase at 11:48 PM on June 30, 2015 [14 favorites]


No vaccination caused your son's autism. And I wish you would be given the medical and financial support that you and he need.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 11:55 PM on June 30, 2015 [37 favorites]


I want to treat the symptoms, I give zero fucks about causes. Therefore, "you are an idiot. You will vaccinate your child or your child will be taken away from you for abuse."

But what about those nasty nasty symptoms?
posted by kaibutsu at 11:58 PM on June 30, 2015


No. The exact opposite.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 11:59 PM on June 30, 2015 [1 favorite]


Thank you. I appreciate your concern and good wishes. (Not being sarcastic; I really mean that). I'm aware that vaccines didn't cause my son's autism. My mother is autistic too. It's obvious what caused my son's autism. My point was that the language in this thread is horrifying and I wish people would back off. Because even though I know that vaccines didn't cause my son's autism, not all parents of autistic kids do, and while they're wrong, they're also acting in good faith and being told they're child-abusers and also should be burned is really hurtful.
posted by shiawase at 12:03 AM on July 1, 2015 [26 favorites]


That all sounds very satisfying, but I think the empathy might be a more effective approach.

The effective approach is to vaccinate kids without any regard whatsoever for the willfully ignorant opinions of their recklessly dangerous parents. Let the parents continue to be morons: it makes no difference to public safety.
posted by five fresh fish at 12:07 AM on July 1, 2015 [10 favorites]


Here in Oregon people can basically say "I won't vaccinate my kid for religious reasons" and that's the end of conversation.

Yes, and in Portland a couple years ago, a ballot initiative that would have allowed fluoridation of the municipal water supply was soundly defeated because, apparently, this town is full of dumdums who aren't aware that Dr. Strangelove is a comedy.
posted by Atom Eyes at 12:09 AM on July 1, 2015 [13 favorites]


not all parents of autistic kids do, and while they're wrong, they're also acting in good faith

That's the thing though. Not only do I not believe they're acting in good faith, I don't care. What I care about is the effects of their stupid and abusive behaviour. Parents who send their queer kids to conversion camps are acting in good faith, by their beliefs, and they are just as wrong.

In a reasonable society, beliefs must not be allowed to trump facts. Children must not be put in danger because of delusion.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 12:14 AM on July 1, 2015 [38 favorites]


I'm not an anti-vaxxer... But, I can see how some people would be uneasy at the government forcing drug injections into their children. The government does have a past history of unethical non-consenting harmful drug administrating.

I can empathize why people would be distrustful of an enforced regime (particularly if the law didn't spell out the drugs).

As far as taking away children from their parents for this offense... The government also has a very questionable history of finding better homes after they are forcibly taken from their parents (which is typically what you do when you've determined that parents are abusing their children).
posted by el io at 12:15 AM on July 1, 2015 [13 favorites]


I have to agree strongly with fffm's stance on this. I've very much run out of patience with the anti-vax crowd as well. I have a close family member who is undergoing chemotherapy right now and is therefore immunocompromised. Catching a common cold can knock my relative into bed for weeks; to catch something like the measles could have horrific consequences.

Look; if facts don't work and gentle persuasion may or may not, the only weapon left is law. This is the only way, sadly, but it was always the predictable outcome. I'm glad to see it happening.
posted by Klaxon Aoooogah at 12:23 AM on July 1, 2015 [17 favorites]


California will not be the first state to decline to offer religious exemptions for vaccination. Mississippi has never had a religious exemption option, as far as I know.
posted by KathrynT at 12:23 AM on July 1, 2015 [2 favorites]


But, I can see how some people would be uneasy at the government forcing drug injections into their children. The government does have a past history of unethical non-consenting harmful drug administrating.

I know! That whole erasing polio from society? Geez, US government. You really had to push the CIA to get that one done without anybody figuring out it was getting rid of polio, didn't you?
posted by Talez at 12:24 AM on July 1, 2015 [9 favorites]


they're also acting in good faith and being told they're child-abusers

Abusers not only of their own children's safety, but the safety of other children, the safety of fetuses in any women with whom they cross paths, the safety of the immunocompromised, the safety of the elderly, and, ultimately, the safety of the herd.

Their "good faith" counts for nothing in the face of the harm they pose to us. Their reckless ignorance and selfishness is absolutely intolerable.

I hold these people culpable for the suffering and deaths of children through these outbreaks of preventable childhood diseases. Any tears because ooh no! harsh words! are not nearly enough to make up for the role they are playing in killing other people's children.

If a crying jag is the worst they suffer, they are getting off scot-free, and should be thankful for the far too generous and short-sighted leniency we have shown them.
posted by five fresh fish at 12:25 AM on July 1, 2015 [39 favorites]


Sadly I couldn't add measles, mumps, rubella, or whooping cough to the list of diseases the US government wiped out since some complete fucknuckles are determined to bring them back. If you want shitty things to bring back from the 80s may I suggest Crystal Pepsi, Zima, or New Coke next time?
posted by Talez at 12:26 AM on July 1, 2015 [7 favorites]


I have friends who are poz. One of whom works in a school. These are not abstract thought experiments; these idiots are putting people I love into mortal danger.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 12:27 AM on July 1, 2015 [11 favorites]


KathrynT: "California will not be the first state to decline to offer religious exemptions for vaccination. Mississippi has never had a religious exemption option, as far as I know"

And when Mississippi tells you your religion shouldn't be an excuse, you should probably listen.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 12:31 AM on July 1, 2015 [30 favorites]


Most people who are anti-vax aren't anti-vax because they're trying to be evil. They're anti-vax because they're ignorant and worried and selfish.


Well, this is finally an issue where I can unequivocally claim a "lived experience". I don't remember it (obviously), but I almost died of whooping cough when I was a few weeks old (late 70's, in Ireland). I have a first cousin who is profoundly deaf because her mother caught rubella while she was pregnant, even though the mother had been vaccinated (there was a legal settlement with the state over that).

So, here I am in about 2010, and a very good friend of mine, English bloke, Ph.D. and all, who'd come to America and had done really well for himself in IT (currently CTO of a relatively prominent software company), moved up to Silicon Valley with his English wife and three kids, and his youngest (6 years old?) caught the whooping cough and ended up in the ICU, and I get my rage on about these irresponsible Bay Area fuckheads who put his son's life in danger and how I want to drop them into a cattle-car with no antibiotics and see how they fare and... turns out he'd not vaccinated any of his three kids. Zero. When I confronted him on it (about 0.5 seconds after he revealed this to me), his answer was that, well, there was *some* risk from vaccinations (i.e. something above absolute fucking zero), and since everybody else was vaccinating their kids, he'd zero-out his risk by not exposing his kids to that. Pretty much ended one of the best adult friendships I'd ever had. Don't put down to ignorance and worry what is far more correctly put down to selfishness. That's what's happening in the pockets of California that this legal measure is trying to address. This is the closest thing to targeted Anti-Selfish-Fuckhead legislation that any legislation in any jurisdiction has ever approached. I will grant that there's a genuine liberty/libertarian argument to be made about I as a parent having control over what goes into my child's body, and that is a legitimate argument. But that's not what this legislation is about. It's about selfish fuckheads.
posted by amorphatist at 12:31 AM on July 1, 2015 [66 favorites]


What I care about is the effects of their stupid and abusive behaviour.

FFFM, I just told you I declined ~20% of the vaccine schedule on behalf of my son. Are you saying I didn't do that in good faith and that my behavior was stupid and abusive?

El io is right that autistic kids' parents' suspicions about mandated treatment are honestly earned. In my mom's generation, they took autistic kids away from their parents and institutionalized them because science had conclusively proven that mothers caused their children's autism by not loving them enough. Parents do not have a monopoly on stupid.
posted by shiawase at 12:34 AM on July 1, 2015 [5 favorites]


But, I can see how some people would be uneasy at the government forcing drug injections into their children. The government does have a past history of unethical non-consenting harmful drug administrating.

I can empathize why people would be distrustful of an enforced regime (particularly if the law didn't spell out the drugs).


Somewhat along those lines, there was the CIA fake vaccination program that was run during the attempt to capture bin Laden. Boy is that food for the sort of paranoid person I imagine falling prey to the conspiracy theory thinking on health. What a huge mistake.
posted by Drinky Die at 12:34 AM on July 1, 2015 [2 favorites]


Somewhat along those lines, there was the CIA fake vaccination program that was run during the attempt to capture bin Laden. Boy is that food for the sort of paranoid person I imagine falling prey to the conspiracy theory thinking on health.

Maybe if he was found in Riverside County instead of Islamabad.
posted by Talez at 12:38 AM on July 1, 2015 [4 favorites]


I am saying that I do not care whether or not you were acting in what you believe to be good faith. Concerns about governments intrusion a generation ago around a condition that is poorly understood now are totally orthogonal to the really very settled science and statistics around vaccines.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 12:38 AM on July 1, 2015 [6 favorites]


Maybe if he was found in Riverside County instead of Islamabad.

Conspiracy thinking is...not always rational.
posted by Drinky Die at 12:40 AM on July 1, 2015


I'm not an anti-vaxxer... But, I can see how some people would be uneasy at the government forcing drug injections into their children. The government does have a past history of unethical non-consenting harmful drug administrating.

Absolutely, and that is probably the reason polio isn't wiped out already. However, I put anti-vaxers pretty much on the same level as moon-landing skeptics. This shit is provably correct. You can try it for yourself ("you" being the hypothetical skeptic). Go and take your first infant, get them vaccinated per the standard schedule. When your second infant comes along, keep them away from the needle. Then bring both of your kids off to the badlands of AfPak and expose them both to some local kids fucked up with polio and other preventable diseases. Come back with your results. Then fuck off from decent society.

Vaccines work and have demonstrably saved millions of lives. Any potential ill-effect on your child is a risk *I'm* willing to take on behalf of your child, and I'm willing to sacrifice some dearly-held autonomy/freedom principles of my own for, unless you're going to guarantee, with your life, that your choice won't damage my 7 month old daughter's health.
posted by amorphatist at 12:45 AM on July 1, 2015 [16 favorites]


I could sort of half understand it if the anti vax parents eschewed all medicine, but that doesn't seem to be the case. Do they not believe in asthma inhalers and broken bone setting too? What about the science behind the electricity in their house or what makes their car go?

Their cherry-picking is based on selfishness. I think they do know that vaccines work, per amorphatist's example, above.

That's what makes them assholes.
posted by Klaxon Aoooogah at 12:57 AM on July 1, 2015 [12 favorites]


"they're also acting in good faith and being told they're child-abusers"

...

Every abusive relationship I've known of was made possible by the abuser's dead certainty that s/he was in the right. Certainty to the exclusion of all evidence, or of argument to the contrary. Abuse happens as a result of certainty and self-righteous "good faith." Those being abused believe the abuser when s/he says "this is for your own good" because the abuser believes it.

"Good faith" is no defense against abuse. An unshakeable certainty of "good faith" seems more like an indicator for possible abuse.

But realistically, does any state have the resources to seize *all* the children whose parents are exposing them to risk/harm but not causing them outright physical harm? Emotional, verbal abuse--but not physical, and otherwise providing for the child? Probably not going to have any impact on anything. Putting a child at risk that's not immediately visible, child seems otherwise in decent health, fed, clothed, educated? Overloaded child protective services are probably going to move on to the kids getting much more visible and immediate physical abuse.
posted by galadriel at 12:58 AM on July 1, 2015 [21 favorites]


You guys have totally happily dehumanized people who don't agree with you on a medical treatment. I just want to make few points and then I will bow out, because internet people love to yell about vaccines.

First, the numbers of unvaccinated are small and the number for the MMR vaccine and the Mtap are both sufficiently high in states with religious exemptions to ensure herd immunity. Further the numbers are even smaller than they seem because refusing a single vaccine now makes you an anti-vaxxer. The modern vaccination schedule includes a infant Hepatitus shots and now chickenpox and these are the most common ones for people to avoid.

The pharmaceutical companies have a long history of dirty dealings, fraud and lies and people especially those in other countries have a right to skeptical.

Last, please remember that these shots are not without risk and a medical exemption is difficult to get even if your family has a history of vaccine complications. Doctors are skeptical and vaccine injury is difficult to prove anyway. The core of the vaccine skeptics are parent's who have children injured by vaccines. These people have sacrificed their children's health on your behalf and they deserve a bit more respect than they get.
posted by psycho-alchemy at 1:26 AM on July 1, 2015 [11 favorites]


The core of the vaccine skeptics are parent's who have children injured by vaccines.

People who *believe* their children were injured by vaccines. All too often, beliefs formed on nothing more than the proximity of the arrival of symptoms to the actual vaccination.

These people have sacrificed their children's health on your behalf and they deserve a bit more respect than they get.


Yeah, because there's no benefit to the actual child in not getting polio or whooping cough or whatever, is there?

These maroons deserve and get NO respect from me.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 1:37 AM on July 1, 2015 [22 favorites]


Do they not believe in asthma inhalers and broken bone setting too?

Personally, I believe in asthma inhalers. Also the MMR. Also the polio vaccine. The hepatitis vaccine, which is mandated in most states, I would say is not settled science, although the risk/benefit analysis still seems to favor its use (but not mandatory use) imo. The influenza vaccine appears so far to have little to recommend it, and some unfortunate evidence of untoward industry influence, and is mandatory in, I think, two states so far.

Sigh, I'm going to bed now.
posted by shiawase at 1:38 AM on July 1, 2015 [5 favorites]


The core of the vaccine skeptics are parent's who have children injured by vaccines. These people have sacrificed their children's health on your behalf and they deserve a bit more respect than they get.

That may have been the core, but the mantle and crust are made up of kindly folk like this, from amorphatist's post, above:

...and his youngest (6 years old?) caught the whooping cough and ended up in the ICU, and I get my rage on about these irresponsible Bay Area fuckheads who put his son's life in danger and how I want to drop them into a cattle-car with no antibiotics and see how they fare and... turns out he'd not vaccinated any of his three kids. Zero. When I confronted him on it (about 0.5 seconds after he revealed this to me), his answer was that, well, there was *some* risk from vaccinations (i.e. something above absolute fucking zero), and since everybody else was vaccinating their kids, he'd zero-out his risk by not exposing his kids to that. Pretty much ended one of the best adult friendships I'd ever had. Don't put down to ignorance and worry what is far more correctly put down to selfishness.

I think there are far, far more people who are jumping on the "let-Jones's-kid-get-the-vaccine-instead-of-mine" bandwagon than those with kids who had legit bad reactions from vaccines.
posted by Klaxon Aoooogah at 1:38 AM on July 1, 2015 [13 favorites]


A person's choice not to vaccinate doesn't trump the rest of society's right to remain unharmed from entirely preventable, formerly eradicated deadly diseases. End of fucking story.
posted by Klaxon Aoooogah at 1:57 AM on July 1, 2015 [32 favorites]


I remember well the days before polio vaccination. We all lived in perpetual fear of being one of those kids (we only identified with the kids) in those rows of iron lungs we saw in Life Magazine. Then in the 5th grade, they took us all into the nurses office (we had full time nurses in LAUSD then) and shot us up. BOY WERE WE HAPPY.

Then, forty years later I had a job making braces for post polio patients. My boss had been in bi-lateral KAFOs since he was three. He was five years younger than I, but he didn't get vaccinated, for whatever reason. I've spent the last 25 years seeing what I missed, thanks to that trip to the nurse's office.

Anti-vaxers are simply stupid. There are no legitimate arguments they can use. The world so clearly does not work the way they pretend it does that the best defense they have is willful ignorance. Willful. And they won't pay for it. Their children, and possibly the children of others who don't share their warped fantasies will be the ones to pay.
posted by carping demon at 2:04 AM on July 1, 2015 [34 favorites]


psycho-alchemy: "Last, please remember that these shots are not without risk and a medical exemption is difficult to get even if your family has a history of vaccine complications."

That's the funny thing. The risk to your child, not to society in general of not vaccinating is a couple of orders of magnitude higher than the risk of vaccine injury to that same child, even with herd immunity and so on. Basically, even with herd immunity, there are sometimes (small) outbreaks of various diseases, and those outbreaks mainly hit the unvaccinated (not just kids of antivaxers, but people who for various reasons can't vaccinate, infants who are too young, etc.) That risk is vastly larger to a single unvaccinated child than the risk of vaccine injury is in that same child should it be vaccinated.

There are no rational reasons to not vaccinate. None. Zero.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 2:21 AM on July 1, 2015 [31 favorites]


First, the numbers of unvaccinated are small and the number for the MMR vaccine and the Mtap are both sufficiently high in states with religious exemptions to ensure herd immunity.

Small? Perhaps you'd like to explain the recent outbreaks of diseases then.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 2:22 AM on July 1, 2015 [1 favorite]


his answer was that, well, there was *some* risk from vaccinations (i.e. something above absolute fucking zero), and since everybody else was vaccinating their kids, he'd zero-out his risk by not exposing his kids to that.

Did he reconsider this view once his youngest was in intensive care with whooping cough? I mean, even from a viewpoint of pure self- and family-interest and screw the rest of the world, his approach clearly did not work. Maybe at least some good could have come out of his poor child's illness, if people who had the same viewpoint as him heard him describe what happened?
posted by Catseye at 2:23 AM on July 1, 2015 [2 favorites]


Having been on the other side, its hard to imagine being wrong when you're so sure that your stand happens to be right. Coming to terms with one's religious beliefs and reconciling them with perceived reality is the stuff of nightmares. No one wants to have to piece an identity back together again.

I was still wrong, and unfortunately many parents who refuse vaccination for their children will likely find the error in their ways once something tragic happens and a healthcare professional tries his/her best to remain empathetic in light of the result.

Do I think the state should mandate a person's religious beliefs? Nope, even if I don't happen to have any. Do I think the state has a responsibility to the greater good, being the health of the general population? Damn straight. You may have to pick up the pieces of your shattered ego, but I consider that result better than the alternative: child-sized funeral plots skyrocketing in demand.
posted by ulteriormodem at 2:37 AM on July 1, 2015 [16 favorites]


Laws are necessary because people at times ignore the common good of society. There's a lot of dumb shit people are completely free to do because it won't impact other than themselves. There's less dumb shit people can't do because they may harm others, directly or indirectly.
It sucks the government has to enforce harder rules, and while I don't believe that over-sanitizing kids (the extreme don't play in the dirt, use only antibacterial soap, use hand sanitizers after touching anything outside home etc kind of boy in the bubble thing) is a good idea, but there's a reason why kids are no longer dying of polio or smallpox, and it isn't kale shakes or what natural prevention medicine got fashionable this month in Suburban Sprawl Weekly. Even if it probably does well to prevent scurvy.
posted by lmfsilva at 2:45 AM on July 1, 2015 [4 favorites]


I am so happy to hear this. Anyone who is against vaccination should visit an old graveyard and see whole families of children wiped out within a week, or see how many of an ancestor's ten children made it to adulthood. Half, if they were lucky, and most childhood deaths were due to diseases now preventable by vaccination. Visiting a friend in Santa Monica who has a child in school , this topic came up, and how it is a problem there among the affluent, educated, but ill-informed population, not just the poor or religious fanatics. New Age woo is not harmless when it causes people to doubt something like vaccinating their children.
posted by mermayd at 3:06 AM on July 1, 2015 [9 favorites]


Why do i have a feeling this is going to be challenged and taken all the way to the supreme court by some rich, possibly celebrity antivaxer? I expect this to get attacked from some really obtuse angles and on some weird appeals, or just to be repealed by a gigantic campaign oppa prop8 style.

I can see the multimillion dollar "shouldn't you have the right to make your own informed decision?" bullshit tv plastering campaigns already, and i don't even live there.
posted by emptythought at 3:19 AM on July 1, 2015 [2 favorites]


That risk is vastly larger to a single unvaccinated child than the risk of vaccine injury is in that same child should it be vaccinated.

Yeah, but we are terrible at risk calculation as a species. Truly terrible. Our brains calculate what 'feels' safest based on so many factors other than the actual odds, and when you add in the very primal instincts to protect your child on top of that, it's not a recipe for purely rational decision-making. (And I am not saying this is exclusive to anti-vaxxers, either - witness, my own irrational self being worried about taking my 1-year-old on a plane for the first time, despite knowing it was safer than driving and not being at all worried about that.)

Also, we're usually historically and culturally isolated from the reality of these diseases. I wonder if it would help things if we had more of a connection with our own past, there, and not just in terms of gruesome descriptions of illness and death from diseases which today are largely preventable (although, those too!), but in terms of the history of vaccination/inoculation and people making decisions about whether or not to inoculate their children.

I worked for several years on historical medical documents, from a period where smallpox was still a big threat and prevention had its own risks. This was before Edward Jenner and the discovery that you could give people cowpox to immunise them against smallpox, so the way inoculation for smallpox worked was by, literally, giving people smallpox. You took someone with a mild-ish case of the disease ('mild' being relative for smallpox), got some of their infected scabs, and transferred that material to cuts you made in the skin of a healthy person. Healthy person then contracted smallpox - but in a much milder form than if they'd contracted it naturally, because the smallpox virus didn't do as well when transferred like that (it was usually contracted through inhalation). This had a mortality rate of about 1-2%, which was a lot lower than the usual mortality rate for smallpox.

What really brought the reality of that home to me, though, was reading a letter from a young noblewoman to her doctor about whether to inoculate her two children. She was really, really struggling with what to do. The eldest was I think two years old, and the youngest still a baby, younger than the age inoculators would have typically treated them (even mild smallpox is more dangerous in young babies for obvious reasons). So should she just inoculate the eldest? But then the eldest would probably infect the youngest anyway, and that would be more dangerous for the youngest because the disease would be contracted naturally. So should she wait until the youngest was old enough? But then the eldest had a greater risk of catching it naturally the next time there was an outbreak, and plus she was a young woman who would probably be having more babies so it's not like she could risk waiting until all the children were old enough. Should she wait until the youngest's teeth were through? And if so, how many teeth? Wait until she was weaned, maybe? Plus, who should do the inoculating? There were professional inoculators at the time, but there were some absolute frauds out there too, and nobody was getting licensed at this, so who do you trust? And so on. So she was coming up with this complicated plan about leaving child #1 with a nurse at their country house after getting her inoculated on the journey if they detoured to the village of someone they'd heard was good, but not exposing her to child #2, and it sounded like a logistical nightmare.

She was wealthy, and she was educated, and she had access to the absolute best medical knowledge and treatment of her time, and she was still in a position where the absolute best and safest option was to find a way to give her children smallpox. With a 1-2% chance of it killing them. Puts our generation's dithering over things like MMR into perspective, doesn't it?

It's an uphill struggle trying to convince people they're being irrational about the risks of vaccination, and it's pointless to say that there aren't any risks because obviously, there is always some risk. But maybe it would reach some people to see that a) other people - people just like you, people who truly cared and worried about their kids - have been dealing with a risk/benefit calculation about vaccines for hundreds of years, and b) we are in the uniquely privileged position of having the absolute best risk/benefit ratio of any generation of all time. And now we don't even need to worry about smallpox at all, because it's gone, and it's gone in large part due to generations of our ancestors making a much riskier choice than we'll ever have to about inoculating against it. The least we can do is realise how lucky we are.
posted by Catseye at 3:39 AM on July 1, 2015 [84 favorites]


I have been wondering for a long time why those folks who claimed non-medical exemptions for vaccinations were not then required to carry some sort of liability insurance and / or surety bond to cover the costs associated with treating others who might become infected with one of the diseases that these vaccinations are intended to suppress.

Honestly, having no exemption is better but if there absolutely had to be exemptions to vaccination then liability insurance or surety bond to cover the risks seems like more responsible policy.
posted by The Correspondent on the Continent at 4:05 AM on July 1, 2015 [6 favorites]


You didn't bother to read his next tweet:

I'm really, really disappointed it wasn't somebody STOP me tbh.
posted by emptythought at 4:19 AM on July 1, 2015 [2 favorites]


Also, i grew up in a very granola-y neighborhood and community... I was homeschooled for most of my primary school years, am on the spectrum, and i've ridden this merry go round a goddamn thousand times and heard all the arguments. I think it's fucking hilarious that this thread has featured both "but the government has done bad stuff maaaaan, why should i trust them?" and the "you guys are being really mean! i'm upset!" and the general appeal to get the crowd to turn around and give anyone vehemently against that line of thinking the stink-eye for being meanie poo poo heads for being angry at this behavior.

My original reply to this effect would have probably resulted in me getting a Serious Message or some time off... but it reminds me one of the primary things my mom, an amazing advocate, taught me from a young age.

The person with the strongest case argues the facts. The person with a decent case argues the rules or the law and technicalities. The person with the crappiest case appeals to emotion or morality.

The fact that very very often in these sorts of discussions the pro-iron-lung side of things shifts immediately to tone, appeals to emotion, illuminati/evil government nebulously lying stuff, and how upset they are just shows that there just really isn't much to say.

And i mean like, sorry if i come off as an asshole it wouldn't be the first time i've heard it, but i don't care if your feelings got hurt. This is an inherently selfish act. And it's always perplexed me that people who stink-eye and will spend hours talking shit on other peoples selfish personal choices that effect society or the environment turn around and make one of those that's a lot bigger than people keeping incandescent bulbs for aesthetic reasons.
posted by emptythought at 4:41 AM on July 1, 2015 [54 favorites]


A few years ago, my wife was considering a medical procedure that carried some risk, but also would greatly lessen her chances for future health problems down the road. I was originally opposed to her undergoing the procedure, on the grounds that everything was going along fine as it was, why did we have to take that risk? But after some tough discussions with her and some deep thinking on my part I came to understand a concept that has since become a focal point of my life philosophy: Doing nothing does not mean you are not at risk. Just because you do not vaccinate in order to avoid the miniscule risk of vaccine injury, that does not mean your children are safe. They are in fact at greater risk for other types of injury, that you are (consciously or subconsciously) avoiding thinking about because those things are, at the moment, outside of your control. It's hard to make your brain think about those kinds of risks of inaction, and depending on the circumstances, it may be impossible to accurately calculate them, but it's something I try to take into account in all of my major life decisions now, and I recommend everyone give it some good hard thought as well.
posted by Rock Steady at 5:30 AM on July 1, 2015 [13 favorites]


So, three book recommendations:

For anybody wanting to know more about the history of religious exemptions and court rulings thereon: Bad Faith (generally, forced vaccination during an epidemic is a-OK)

For anybody who thinks that mistreatment of patients and widespread abuse by the government and medical researchers in general like the Tuskegee Syphilis experiment like el io alluded to is a thing of the past: Medical Apartheid

And finally, for anybody wanting a view into questionable practices by the pharmaceutical industry-- where here questionable practices means things like "lack of double blind trials", "p value hacking", "testing new drugs against placebos instead of established treatments", as opposed to "hiding the cure for cancer" or "trying to mind control us": Bad Pharma

With the disclaimer that I think this law is fantastic, and that I am most definitely pro-vaccine, pro-science, anti-woo, etc. But seriously, in some communities (primarily those consisting of poor people and people of color), mistrust of the medical establishment is based on some very, very shady things that have gone down in the past, and in some cases, is still going down.
posted by damayanti at 5:40 AM on July 1, 2015 [13 favorites]


I don't think "child abuse" is helpful: it's a public health issue, period.

(Though, admittedly, when I saw one mother getting emotional about "the light going out of [her six-year old son's] beautiful blue eyes," were she to vaccinate him, I wanted to reach through the monitor and slap her.)

Not incidentally, I'm one of those old enough to remember.
posted by Short Attention Sp at 5:46 AM on July 1, 2015 [3 favorites]


Another book recommendation - that I think I picked up from a previous Mefi thread on vaccination - is Pox: An American History, about smallpox epidemics and vaccination policy in the US and its colonies. It ends with a chapter about Jacobson v Massachusetts, a Supreme Court ruling which ruled in favour of mandatory vaccination programmes.
posted by penguinliz at 5:50 AM on July 1, 2015 [3 favorites]


I don't think "child abuse" is helpful: it's a public health issue, period.


I think it's both-- the book I just mentioned above talked a bit about how these sorts of laws went hand in hand with/followed from laws against child abuse. Just like you don't have the right to beat your child, you don't have the right to withhold medical treatment from them.
posted by damayanti at 6:01 AM on July 1, 2015 [2 favorites]


Remember when it used to be funny when Jim Carrey talked out of his ass?

Honestly, no.
posted by aught at 6:09 AM on July 1, 2015 [3 favorites]


The influenza vaccine appears so far to have little to recommend it,

Only one data point, but I haven't had the flu for a decade, since I've been getting vaccinated every year. Beyond that, you understand that, once upon a time (50+years ago) millions died during large flu outbreaks, right?
posted by aught at 6:31 AM on July 1, 2015 [6 favorites]


I ran a 5k this weekend that was held to support fetal medicine. You know, when fetuses are so sick that they require medical intervention in utero. There were a lot of premies there, kids on ventilators, kids with hydrocephalus, and so on. And then, after the race, I noticed a kid in line at the face-painting booth with the goddamn chicken pox. At an event with kids too young or too immunocompromised to be vaccinated.

So, I have a hard time reconciling the anti-vax rallying whine about "you guys are so mean and inconsiderate," when their MO is to simply not give a shit about how their special snowflake exemption affects others who maybe can't get vaccinated. At this point, trying to convince has failed; empathy has failed, for it can be proven that the empathy is not reciprocated; so we are left with enforcement and ridicule. Thank you, Jerry Brown.
posted by Existential Dread at 6:44 AM on July 1, 2015 [37 favorites]


In a democratic society, what do you even do with people who doubt the authority of facts? I mean, besides ignore them.

The US has never been a purely or even primarily democratic society when it comes to matters of public health - the first wave of mandatory, mass vaccinations c. 1901 involved many that were done forcibly, with police suppressing attempts to stop vaccination crews.
posted by ryanshepard at 6:46 AM on July 1, 2015 [1 favorite]


First, the numbers of unvaccinated are small

This statement is incorrect. This discussion is full of hot-headed emotion. But ultimately the reason for vaccination boils down to facts, data, and science. Some people are confused by or choose to ignore the science. Now in California they no longer have a right to endanger others.
posted by Nelson at 6:47 AM on July 1, 2015 [27 favorites]


An Onion piece from earlier this year: I Don’t Vaccinate My Child Because It’s My Right To Decide What Eliminated Diseases Come Roaring Back
It’s simple: You don’t tell me how to raise my kids to avoid reviving a horrific illness that hasn’t been seen on our shores since our grandparents were children, and I won’t tell you how to raise yours.

Look, I’ve done the research on these issues, I’ve read the statistics, and I’ve carefully considered the costs and benefits, and there’s simply no question in my mind that inciting a nationwide health emergency by unleashing a disease that can kill 20 percent or more of its victims is the right one for my child.
posted by filthy light thief at 7:09 AM on July 1, 2015 [16 favorites]


It's bog standard, at least in Ontario, to require providing vaccination records to schools. As in everyone has to do it, and does.

Unless one fills out the Statement of Conscience or Religious Belief , that is.
posted by greatgefilte at 7:16 AM on July 1, 2015 [1 favorite]


Beyond that, you understand that, once upon a time (50+years ago) millions died during large flu outbreaks, right?

Is the flu vaccine really what is preventing that, or just that we are lucky to not get really nasty flu strains? Or that we are better at treating it? It just doesn't seem like the percentage of people who get the flu vaccine would be enough to stop a very fatal strain.
posted by smackfu at 7:21 AM on July 1, 2015 [2 favorites]


Beyond that, you understand that, once upon a time (50+years ago) millions died during large flu outbreaks, right?

Annual flu vaccines do nothing to help prevent against pandemic flu outbreaks, except keep the industrial machine spinning so it can pump out pandemic flu vaccines once a new strain has been isolated.

The latest Cochrane meta-review concludes that the annual flu shot has little benefit for most adults, though it's not harmful. Being militant about hand-washing and not-eye-touching and cover-your-damn-mouth-when-you-sneeze is still a good idea.

It's important to keep having this conversation so we can decide if the money we spend every year vaccinating healthy adults for influenza would be better spent improving the current vaccine, understanding pandemics, developing a universal flu vaccine, better protecting the old/young/immunocompromised, etc.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 7:23 AM on July 1, 2015 [6 favorites]


Sadly, it turns out there's often little to be gained by arguing facts with people who have no regard for them.

Indeed. They won't acccept reality. If a person can read about say, smallpox for example and still believe vaccination is a conspiracy I don't see that there is any hope in convincing someone who comes to an argument believing in bullshit and outright ignores reality. It feels like you're on Fox News talking to one of their "journalists" when engaging, with empathy and/or good faith, in conversation with anti-vaxxers.

My point was that the language in this thread is horrifying

As is the language of anti-vaxxers who are effectively saying (while denying it) that the greater risk is actually in vaccination rather than the opposite, and their "philosophy" and conduct puts people at risk of great periods of illness up to and including death. They deny history, they deny evidence, and that is incredibly horrifying.

When I was in the hospital for measles (born before the vaccination) I was so dehydrated it felt like my lips were going to fall off. I couldn't eat or drink without throwing up so had to be fed intravenously. I was very young so I don't remember much else and was lucking to come out of it but I did have to be hospitalized it was that bad.

I can see how some people would be uneasy at the government forcing drug injections into their children.

The government is doing injections rather than health care workers?

Vaccines work and have demonstrably saved millions of lives.

The fact that this fact is thrown out the window is astounding and incomprehensible. It's like some law enforcement guru coming into your home and telling you that in fact, strangers are not a danger to your children. You should tell them to accept a ride from a stranger from school because despite the history that says this is not an ideal thing to do, law enforcement guru says otherwise. He is then discredited with facts about how this is not the sort of behaviour you want to encourage in your children but the parents who bought his argument refuse to believe in historical data, current data, and that law enforcement guru has been discredited so they raise their children to not be wary around strangers, what could possibly go wrong? Historical facts are nonsense!

You guys have totally happily dehumanized people who don't agree with you on a medical treatment.

Absolutely not. To be this unbelievably stubborn and emotional, and risking the welfare of your own family and friends and everyone else is very human unfortunately. These human characteristics are probably responsible for more misery and tragedy then any else.
posted by juiceCake at 7:28 AM on July 1, 2015 [15 favorites]


> The modern vaccination schedule includes a infant Hepatitus shots and now chickenpox and these are the most common ones for people to avoid.

> The hepatitis vaccine, which is mandated in most states, I would say is not settled science, although the risk/benefit analysis still seems to favor its use (but not mandatory use) imo. The influenza vaccine appears so far to have little to recommend it, and some unfortunate evidence of untoward industry influence, and is mandatory in, I think, two states so far.


I was curious about this and went to dig into it a little. It's true that the question of which vaccines to require is open to financially-motivated shenanigans, and we should watch out for that even if we think some vaccines should be mandatory.

So first of all, which are required? Here's the text of the California bill as introduced, although I'm not sure that's the same version that passed. I think this is the list:
(1) Diphtheria.
(2) Hepatitis B.
(3) Haemophilus influenzae type b.
(4) Measles.
(5) Mumps.
(6) Pertussis (whooping cough).
(7) Poliomyelitis.
(8) Rubella.
(9) Tetanus.
(10) Varicella (chickenpox).
(11) Any other disease deemed appropriate by the department,
taking into consideration the recommendations of the Advisory
Committee on Immunization Practices of the United States Department
of Health and Human Services, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and
the American Academy of Family Physicians.
The challenged ones in this thread have been hepatitis B, influenza, and varicella/chickenpox.


So, hepatitis B: worldwide, "Approximately 780 000 persons die each year from hepatitis B infection. ... The vaccine has an excellent record of safety and effectiveness. Since 1982, over 1 billion doses of hepatitis B vaccine have been used worldwide. In many countries where 8–15% of children used to become chronically infected with the hepatitis B virus, vaccination has reduced the rate of chronic infection to less than 1% among immunized children."

In the United States, "The rate of new HBV infections has declined by approximately 82% since 1991, when a national strategy to eliminate HBV infection was implemented in the United States. The decline has been greatest among children born since 1991, when routine vaccination of children was first recommended." It is still common, however; 3,000 acute cases were reported in 2013.


Haemophilus influenzae type b: "Before Hib vaccine, about 20,000 children in the United States under 5 years old got Hib disease each year, and about 3% - 6% of them died. ... Since use of Hib vaccine began, the number of cases of invasive Hib disease has decreased by more than 99%."

(shiawase linked to the Cochrane report on "vaccines to prevent influenza in healthy adults," which I believe refers to a different kind of influenza as well as a different age group. From the Cochrane report on flu vaccine for children, it does sound like there's some interesting controversy on whether recommendations of that flu vaccine are supported by the research for children under 2 years old, and whether industry financing is influencing research outcomes. But again that's both a different age group and different illness than we're talking about in the California law.)


Varicella: "Before the chickenpox vaccine was widely used, nearly 11,000 people were hospitalized each year and about 50 children and 50 adults died every year from chickenpox [in the United States]. ... Since the United States started using the vaccine in 1995, the number of hospitalizations and deaths from chickenpox has gone down more than 90%." [pdf]


So my own conclusion is that, while we do have to be vigilant about the obvious incentive for drug companies to get their products added to the mandatory list, the vaccines that actually are on the list in California have more than proved their value. Parents who selectively opt out of one or two are more likely confused about what it is they're opting out of and what relative risks they're accepting, rather than making an informed decision about a real tradeoff.
posted by jhc at 7:33 AM on July 1, 2015 [32 favorites]


"...wish people would back off. Because even though I know that vaccines didn't cause my son's autism, not all parents of autistic kids do, and while they're wrong, they're also acting in good faith and being told they're child-abusers and also should be burned is really hurtful."

I'm also the parent of an autistic child, and I feel exactly the opposite. Whether they're acting in good faith or not, they're wrong. And if they were just wrong at home and affecting no one else, then I'd be fine with that. But I have struggled for the last thirteen years to care for an autistic child on an overwhelming lack of resources and support network because every @)(#$* support group I ever joined was consumed by talking about vaccines. Even the ones hosted by the hospitals. Even the ones that were just supposed to be for caregiver relief.

So not only are they wrong, they've infected the entire support network for a community of parents who desperately need assistance and support. During the time when I had to figure out Medicaid waivers, BDDS, SSI-D, ABA, IEPs and every other damned thing about this disorder myself, I just had to bootstrap it because ignorant people clogged all the local channels of relief.
posted by headspace at 7:36 AM on July 1, 2015 [79 favorites]




GuyZero: "I suspect the only downside is yet more paperwork to register your kids for school which will disproportionately affect poor and immigrant families, especially Latinos.
I guarantee every school in California will prevent a handful of kids from registering over a lack of paperwork.
"

A topic I have experience with! Poor and immigrant families are never the problem! They are very, very good at keeping their vaccinations up-to-date and providing the paperwork.

Generally the way it works is that you have a deadline for providing the health paperwork (say August 15, when school registration happens) and then you have a deadline to remediate your failure to turn in the paperwork (say October 15). In my high-poverty district, around 90% of parents turn in their paperwork at the appropriate time, and another 15% turn it in within a couple of weeks (most non-compliers are either BRAND new immigrants who didn't know about the requirements, but are eager to comply; children with late-August birthdays who haven't been to the doctor for their well-child visit yet; and wealthy white parents who forget that you have to document shit for the government because they don't interact with the bureaucracy as often as less-wealthy families do). Of the 5% remaining, around September 15 the school starts making phone calls and sending letters and trying to find out WHY the family is non-compliant with vaccination requirements (either documentation of vaccines or a letter of exemption). Don't speak English? We have translators. Can't get to the clinic? One of our social workers will make an appointment and drive you. Parents have a weird work schedule? Your child can get vaccinated at the school clinic if you sign these forms. You had it done but don't understand how to get the documentation from the doctor? Come stand next to our school secretary and she will call and put you on to authorize the records release.

When we get to within two weeks of the deadline, we have two people whose JOBS are "parent contact with recalcitrant parents" and they start showing up wherever they think you might be -- they knock on your door, leave you notes, ask people in your neighborhood if they know where you are, drop by your workplace, and even -- this is true -- show up at a known crack-house at 3 a.m. to get a parent signature since that's the only place anyone knows you'll be. Once these guys find you, they're going to hassle you until they find out why you haven't gotten your kid shots, and then they will show up at your workplace when you come off 3rd shift to pick up you, and your kid from grandma's, and drive you both to the health clinic where they've arranged for a nurse to be in early to give your kid shots.

Generally we find that 50% of non-compliance is woo-woo anti-vaxxers; 45% of it is parents with some kind of practical obstacle (typically trouble with English or trouble with job scheduling and transportation) that can be easily solved by someone with a car, a second language, and access to a nurse; and 5% of it is terminally irresponsible parents who probably should not be actively parenting their children and are already known to DCFS.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 7:42 AM on July 1, 2015 [77 favorites]


Eyebrows McGee: "two people whose JOBS are "parent contact with recalcitrant parents""

I should add -- one of them is a black man who grew up in the African-American neighborhoods in town, and the other is an immigrant from Mexico who went to high school in Chicago but is from the same part of Mexico the majority of our Mexican immigrants are, and lived in similar high-poverty US neighborhoods. They're obviously not "the fuzz," they're men who are known to local people and local families, who come from those communities, and who can connect with people in them. (I also know they have relatively selective vision when it comes to witnessing crimes.) They've been successful in becoming known as resources and advocates, who are there to help with school issues but who also know how to hook you up with people who can answer questions like "how do I apply for unemployment?" or "is there a GED night program?" or "my landlord is dicking me around, what do I do?" It sounds a lot weirder when you think it's random people descending on immigrant neighborhoods or whatever, but in fact it's guys who live in those neighborhoods tirelessly connecting with their neighbors.

posted by Eyebrows McGee at 8:02 AM on July 1, 2015 [43 favorites]


I'm an immune-compromised person (not as compromised as someone who's HIV-positive, but someone who takes drugs that suppress my immune system to counter a chronic health problem) so none of this is theoretical to me. I understand suspicion of the government, and I really understand suspicion of Big Pharma, because boy do I share it: I prefer to take older drugs because I worry not just about costs but about insufficient testing and I know that drug companies have released drugs for people like me that have killed patients through side effects.

I'm vaccinated, I keep up with my vaccinations as best I can (harder when I was moving every couple of years), and I take the flu vaccine on medical advice every year even though I know the science isn't perfect. (My dad was older when I was born. His mother died in a flu pandemic in the 1920s.) I'm sorry for people who are scared of vaccines. But I am scared of THEM and their UNVACCINATED KIDS because I don't want to die, and there are people who have it worse than I do on the risk front and are probably more scared than I ever will be.

People ask for empathy for parents who are afraid. I ask for empathy from those who are risking my life. Maybe folks upthread are right and there's not much I can do to reach them because they're selfish. But if you need to put a face in this community to see what you're risking by not vaccinating your kids, here's one. Mine.
posted by immlass at 8:12 AM on July 1, 2015 [36 favorites]


Why do i have a feeling this is going to be challenged and taken all the way to the supreme court by some rich, possibly celebrity antivaxer? I expect this to get attacked from some really obtuse angles and on some weird appeals, or just to be repealed by a gigantic campaign oppa prop8 style.

I can see the multimillion dollar "shouldn't you have the right to make your own informed decision?" bullshit tv plastering campaigns already, and i don't even live there.


I mean this in all seriousness: doesn't Hobby Lobby basically mean any family can just incorporate themselves and then declare they have a constitutional right to a religions exemption from a health mandate?
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 8:19 AM on July 1, 2015 [1 favorite]


XQUZYPHYR: "I mean this in all seriousness: doesn't Hobby Lobby basically mean any family can just incorporate themselves and then declare they have a constitutional right to a religions exemption from a health mandate?"

No; Hobby Lobby doesn't grant corporations EXTRA religious exemptions; just the SAME religious exemptions as individuals. (Also, all the "religious exemption" stuff around birth control and insurance has a pretty long, complicated, and specific history, and it's unlikely to apply to other areas of medicine outside reproductive health.)

Secondly, there's a pretty long history of jurisprudence giving the stink-eye to individuals and families who attempt to incorporate themselves to avoid particular laws -- most generally taxes. The law is an ass and all, but it's not stupid. The court knows you're trying to abuse the process to dodge the law, and it won't let you.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 8:29 AM on July 1, 2015 [3 favorites]


> People who *believe* their children were injured by vaccines. All too often, beliefs formed on nothing more than the proximity of the arrival of symptoms to the actual vaccination.

WHOA THERE! Are you suggesting that I can't steer a rolling bowling ball remotely by hopping on one leg while leaning in the desired direction?
posted by Sunburnt at 8:43 AM on July 1, 2015 [16 favorites]


All too often, beliefs formed on nothing more than the proximity of the arrival of symptoms to the actual vaccination.
If you follow the CDC vaccination schedule, you'll likely get shots at birth, two months, four months, six months, 12 months, 18 months and 24 months. Which means any condition discovered in the first eight months of life was caught no more than two months after a vaccination, and there's a 50% chance it was caught within one month of a vaccination. Everything is proximal to being vaccinated, for reasonable definitions of "proximal." Even after that, at any time you are no more than six months away from your last vaccination, up until 30 months. Every medical condition for a young child happens fairly close to a scheduled immunization. So if you are inclined to believe vaccines cause certain medical conditions, you'll have plenty of anecdotal evidence.

Of course, if you believe thunderstorms and unusually vivid flowers cause certain medical conditions, you'll have lots of evidence for those assertions as well.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 8:57 AM on July 1, 2015 [15 favorites]


I mean this in all seriousness: doesn't Hobby Lobby basically mean any family can just incorporate themselves and then declare they have a constitutional right to a religions exemption from a health mandate?

I think if you're doing that to circumvent the law preventing unvaccinated kids from going to public school, you'd have to convince the school that you are enrolling not a child, but a corporate entity (or a certain percentage of a corporate entity) which is, as far as I know, not a thing you can do.
posted by griphus at 9:05 AM on July 1, 2015 [1 favorite]


"Roll call: Hector Rodriguez?"
"Here"
"Alice Bernstein?"
"Here"
"Two hundred Class-A Preferred voting shares of Hansen Family Concern Ltd.?"
"Here"
posted by griphus at 9:08 AM on July 1, 2015 [33 favorites]


I just want to make few points and then I will bow out

No, bullshit. If you want to "make a few points", then you can sit around and listen to other people refute those points with whatever level of success. If you can't be arsed to do that, then don't bother to speak up in the first place.
posted by disconnect at 9:35 AM on July 1, 2015 [23 favorites]


Did he reconsider this view once his youngest was in intensive care with whooping cough? I mean, even from a viewpoint of pure self- and family-interest and screw the rest of the world, his approach clearly did not work. Maybe at least some good could have come out of his poor child's illness, if people who had the same viewpoint as him heard him describe what happened?

One would hope so, I mean, the guy is one of the most intelligent people (in the broad sense of the term, practically a renaissance man) I've ever met, but the vaccination topic was so toxic to our relationship that it was never discussed again. I really wonder. I'll ask him next time I see him, but I have no idea when that will be.
posted by amorphatist at 10:00 AM on July 1, 2015


Long thread, and I'm working through it...all you have to do to see the huge resistance to this law is look at any facebook link post about it...people RAVING about how DARE the government force poison into my child, etc. People value the illusion of choice, and vaccine exemptions give them that. It IS astounding how people cherry pick which science to believe, but if this legislation saves one life (and it will), it will have been far worth taking away some "freedom."
posted by agregoli at 10:40 AM on July 1, 2015 [1 favorite]


griphus: ""Two hundred Class-A Preferred voting shares of Hansen Family Concern Ltd.?"
"Here"
"

"My supervisors call me Twohundy, for short."
posted by Rock Steady at 11:05 AM on July 1, 2015 [2 favorites]


psycho-alchemy: The pharmaceutical companies have a long history of dirty dealings, fraud and lies and people especially those in other countries have a right to skeptical.

O hai. I'm probably in 'another country'. And no, I do not think that gives me more of a right or need to be skeptical.
I can tell you one thing: I don't trust my government (who are supposed to keep me safe from the dirty dealings of pharmaceutical companies) all that much, but I certainly trust it more than I trust yours.
posted by Too-Ticky at 11:34 AM on July 1, 2015 [2 favorites]


Jim Carrey was on Jerry Seinfeld's cars and coffee thing a couple weeks ago (which has really become the "what's so bad about bigotry" show of late, unfortunately), and they showed his studio, because Jim Carrey's a painter now apparently. In the studio was a massive car-sized pile of paint tubes.

If Mr. Carrey is so concerned about mercury, he should try glancing at the labels on those tubes sometime.
posted by Sys Rq at 11:43 AM on July 1, 2015 [17 favorites]


I had a basic explanation of how vaccines work in 2nd grade. It made effing sense. So much so that a few years later when I saw a spoof in Mad Magazine about Jonas Salk, I could tell that they were spoofing marketing, not Salk. When in my 20's, people from my college class were dying of AIDS, I was thrilled beyond words that in his 70's, he was researching HIV.

I think the hard thing for some people to grasp is that no vaccine is perfect, but the science is still sound. This gets conflated with the flu vaccine, which is an annual guess and as it turns out last year's guess was not so good.

If it helps convince anyone (this is the choir we're preaching to, after all), I was seeing my doctor for something routine and I also had a few odd blisters. He said, "sorry, that's shingles. Wait, you're taking for . Stop taking it. We need to treat this, now and keep it from getting worse." And boy did it get worse. And yes, I know I didn't get shingles from the community. My point is that if my doc reacts that strongly to shingles, I really don't want to be exposed to anything else.
So yeah, all you people who are ruining herd immunity? That's me you're affecting as well as the next generation (and their gradparents). What did we ever do to you?

Can't wait to hear what Mark Crislip (of a gobbet o' pus fame)has to say about this.

posted by plinth at 11:53 AM on July 1, 2015 [5 favorites]


I believe refers to a different kind of influenza

Completely different, it's just a weird historical quirk of nomenclature and the fact that "flu-like symptoms" are exceedingly common with a number of infections. H. influenzae is a bacterium that causes meningitis, pneumonia, and URTIs. The flu proper is caused by orthomyxoviruses.

You could jab yourself with seasonal influenza vaccines until you became a living god, but you would still not be protected from HiB (and vice versa).
posted by Panjandrum at 11:55 AM on July 1, 2015 [4 favorites]


psycho-alchemy: "The modern vaccination schedule includes a infant Hepatitus shots and now chickenpox and these are the most common ones for people to avoid."

And probably you're in favor of avoiding the Hep B shot because you don't understand how Hep B is transmitted. You've probably been told by the anti-vax community that it's sexually transmitted or transmitted by dirty needles, which is frequently true! But infants and children can be and routinely are infected by asymptomatic adults who do not know they have they are Hep B carriers and unwitting put children in their care at risk. Between 1/3 and 1/2 of people with Hep B were infected as children. The virus can also remain active in the environment, including on surfaces, for up to 7 day! Among the ways children can be infected:

*Passing through the birth canal. (Shots at birth prevent the virus from taking hold, much like getting prophylactic rabies shots shortly after a bite from an infected animal.)
*Getting a cut or scrape and coming into contact with a surface with residual virus
*Being bitten by an angry playmate who has the virus
*Sharing toothbrushes with an infected person, or sharing chewy toys with another infected child
*Sharing bites of food with an infected person

90% of those infected in infancy develop debilitating chronic symptoms; only 30% of those infected later get those symptoms. Most children under 5 are asymptomatic, as are many adults>. Approximately 100% of childhood infections with Hep B can be avoided through the series of three shots at birth, six weeks, and six months.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 12:06 PM on July 1, 2015 [41 favorites]


Californian here. Very happy day. As soon as this bill hit committee I was on my elected officials because I knew the anti-vaxxers would be on their elected officials. I'm delighted with the increased protection the elderly, newborn, and sick will have from better herd immunity.
posted by persona au gratin at 1:27 PM on July 1, 2015 [9 favorites]


Nelson: Local: whooping cough outbreak in Nevada County. That started at a school where 81% of the students are unvaccinated.

It's been said in previous threads, but i honestly think that at this point it's going to take a national news coverage for days worthy outbreak that starts killing kids to change anything. Especially if we get that coverage peppered with "A controversial new law in california mandates vaccinations and hey they're mysteriously fine, over to you Meagan!"

Nothing else is going to work. It's sad, but it's more than likely true.

Headspace: So not only are they wrong, they've infected the entire support network for a community of parents who desperately need assistance and support. During the time when I had to figure out Medicaid waivers, BDDS, SSI-D, ABA, IEPs and every other damned thing about this disorder myself, I just had to bootstrap it because ignorant people clogged all the local channels of relief.

Ugh, i just wanted to say i'm sorry because i very clearly remember my own mother going through exactly this. Everywhere we, or she went it was either antivaxers, crystal hippies who were also antivaxers, or super religious people who were usually also antivaxers. Even at, as you said, city or hospital/medical organization meetings and such in the actual facilities of those organizations. She'd go to some thing at a library with doctors there and... same old shit, like you said.

There's even some therapists or psychiatrists who buy in to it, and will be all weasel-words some-sources-say teach the controversy about it.

I hadn't even thought about her frustrating experience, specific to this, in quite a while.

And yea, i just wanted to say i'm sorry.
posted by emptythought at 2:17 PM on July 1, 2015 [7 favorites]


Most people who are anti-vax aren't anti-vax because they're trying to be evil. They're anti-vax because they're ignorant and worried and selfish.
But that is exactly what allows genuine evil to take root.
posted by sjswitzer at 2:26 PM on July 1, 2015 [13 favorites]


I can't recommend On Immunity, by Eula Biss, strongly enough. She is a rational, educated human being who, as a mother herself, also understands the fears that mothers have about protecting their children, and so she can address the roots of the fears with empathy in a way that I absolutely cannot. I think that if I were to memorize the book, I might be able to have conversations with vaccinophobes that were productive. As it is, I am at a total loss.
posted by janey47 at 2:29 PM on July 1, 2015 [5 favorites]




[Folks, one topic full of outrage does not need another topic full of outrage as seasoning. It muddles the whole conversation. Thanks. ]
posted by restless_nomad at 6:00 PM on July 1, 2015 [3 favorites]


Does anyone know if there is any active research taking place on what actually does cause autism?
posted by koucha at 6:04 AM on July 2, 2015


This is a discussion about vaccinations and California law, not about autism. There's no more reason to discuss autism here than there is to discuss your favorite yarn for winter sweaters.

The only connection is that some wingnuts say there's a connection; by discussing autism and vaccinations in the same breath, we're helping them spread their agenda.
posted by The corpse in the library at 6:16 AM on July 2, 2015 [8 favorites]


Another vote for On Immunity. It's fantastic.

And I don't think dead kids will slow down the anti-vaccine movement. They will help get more laws like this passed. But they won't make a difference in the people who would rather see children dead than developmentally disabled.
posted by Hactar at 7:38 AM on July 2, 2015


But they won't make a difference in the people who would rather see children dead than developmentally disabled.

Not to pick on your comment in particular, but it's not like these diseases have no aftereffects on the survivors, either. It's more like they'd rather see children dead or disabled from diseases than take whatever risk they feel is involved in taking the vaccines.
posted by immlass at 7:46 AM on July 2, 2015


Vaccines don't cause developmental disablement.
posted by Nelson at 8:34 AM on July 2, 2015 [2 favorites]


> Does anyone know if there is any active research taking place on what actually does cause autism?

Certainly. It's not clear how much they've narrowed the field of suspected causes, but here's a release from last year (from the Autism Center for Excellence at UCSD) in which some biological development that occurs during gestation is suggested as a possible cause.

Around 10 years ago I heard a story on my local (Seattle) public radio station about Autism research at UW, where a researcher was watching videos of 1st Birthday parties for children who had subsequently been diagnosed as autistic. Don't know if they can do better now, but at the time, 1 year was too young for a conclusive diagnosis, but they were hoping, aided by the relatively new ubiquity of cheap high quality video cameras, to change that by finding signs in 1-year-olds.
posted by Sunburnt at 9:18 AM on July 2, 2015


I can't remember all the details, but several years ago (2007, 2008? somewhere in there) a friend of mine was involved in the design of one piece of a perfectly enormous study that is still ongoing. There were a HUGE number of families recruited, approaching six figures if not over that, and they were recruited prior to any autism diagnosis -- some were recruited at the birth of their child, some at their first prenatal appointment, and some when they told their doctor they were going to begin trying to conceive. They did (are doing!) genetic studies, blood tests, environmental tests of people's homes, nutritional analyses -- just gathered a truly massive amount of data. If I recall correctly, the study was supposed to last for thirteen years. "At the end of this," my friend said, "we may still not know what causes autism. But we'll have a much, much better handle on all the things that don't."
posted by KathrynT at 9:33 AM on July 2, 2015


Does anyone know if there is any active research taking place on what actually does cause autism?

Rubella, the R prevented by the MMR vaccine, has been associated with autism since the early 1970s (though it's not the only cause).
posted by sandswipe at 10:31 AM on July 2, 2015


Measles death confirmed in Washington state

A Clallam County woman died this spring due to a measles infection, the Washington state Department of Health said Thursday. It's the first reported measles-related death in the U.S. since 2003.

The infection wasn't discovered until an autopsy. The official cause of death was pneumonia due to measles.


...

The woman was dealing with other health conditions and was on medications that weakened her immune system. Moyer said she did not exhibit some of the common symptoms of measles so the infection was not discovered until after she died.
posted by bluecore at 11:01 AM on July 2, 2015


Another vote for On Immunity here. It is wonderful. This bit on thiomersal/thimerosal was particularly fascinating to me:
In 120 countries, vaccines containing thimerosal are currently used to save an estimated 1.4 million lives every year. Thimerosal is essential for multidose vaccines, which are less expensive to produce, store, and ship than single-dose vaccines. Some countries rely on multidose vaccines, not just because they are more cost effective and produce less waste than singledose vaccines, but also because they do not require refrigeration. There are places, particularly in poorer countries, where a ban on thimerosal would effectively be a ban on vaccination against diphtheria, pertussis, hep B, and tetanus.

[...]

In the event of a pandemic, thimerosal, which allows for more rapid production and distribution of vaccines, might yet be as essential in this country as it is in other countries. For now, we use expensive single-dose vaccines for the same reason many other wealthy countries do - because we can. SafeMinds, an autism advocacy group that was among the most vocally opposed to the exemption for thimerosal in the Minamata treaty, repeatedly suggested that the exemption was motivated by money. It was, in the sense that it was informed by the need for affordable vaccination in low-income countries. The groups that opposed the exemption, as global health researchers would observe in Pediatrics, were all nongovernmental groups like SafeMinds from high-income countries where vaccination rates would not be affected by a ban on thimerosal. Wealthier countries have the luxury of entertaining fears the rest of the world cannot afford.
posted by Catseye at 11:33 AM on July 2, 2015 [1 favorite]


That poor kid in Spain died a couple of days ago from diptheria.


Yup, his parents said they were influenced by the anti-vax movement in their decision not to vaccinate their son (and I'm sure are now feeling heartrending, terrible guilt we would not wish on anyone). Also, "[e]ight other children tested positive for diphtheria after coming into contact with Pau, and were kept in isolation under observation but they did not develop the illness. All had been vaccinated."
posted by Yoko Ono's Advice Column at 11:45 AM on July 2, 2015


Measles led to death of Clallam Co. woman; first in US in a dozen years, Tragic outcome for immunocompromised patient shows need for community protection

"The death of a Clallam County woman this spring was due to an undetected measles infection that was discovered at autopsy.

The woman was most likely exposed to measles at a local medical facility during a recent outbreak in Clallam County. She was there at the same time as a person who later developed a rash and was contagious for measles. The woman had several other health conditions and was on medications that contributed to a suppressed immune system. She didn’t have some of the common symptoms of measles such as a rash, so the infection wasn’t discovered until after her death. The cause of death was pneumonia due to measles."
posted by a fiendish thingy at 12:31 PM on July 2, 2015 [2 favorites]


There were 5 cases of measles in Clallam County this year; two middle aged adults, vaccination status unknown, two unvaccinated siblings, and an adult relative of the siblings who had one dose of the less-effective 1970's vaccine. That last case was confirmed as measles on March 20th but was exposed during the infectious periods of his younger relatives, which would have been in mid-February; the delay in confirming measles was because he was initially believed immune. That means that guy was contagious for measles for a few weeks at least before it was identified.
posted by KathrynT at 1:23 PM on July 2, 2015


First, the numbers of unvaccinated are small

This statement is incorrect.
• Local: whooping cough outbreak in Nevada County. That started at a school where 81% of the students are unvaccinated.
• Statewide: immunization levels. 10% of kids in California are not appropriately vaccinated. That's 52,058 children. 4% are missing MMR and 4% are missing Polio.
• Global: Vaccine-Preventable Outbreaks. The prevalence of whooping cough in the United States is particularly striking.


Herd immunity should be achievable for different diseases with somewhere between 83% and 95% coverage, depending on how effective the vaccine is. So your the numbers of the MMR and Dtap, Which are our main concern, both support my point.

Whooping cough herd immunity is not achievable as the current vaccine is not effective enough to clear the bacteria from the body and allows the immunized to become asymptomatic carriers.That vaccine does reduce the severity of the disease.

O hai. I'm probably in 'another country'. And no, I do not think that gives me more of a right or need to be skeptical.


Yes, you do. If the US recalls something, they will often ship it overseas. Such as when Bayer had to recall a hemophiliac drug that was contaminated with the AIDs virus. NYT

This is not an isolated case. Mother Jones

Not to mention that vaccinating a naive population with other health complications and malnutrition issues has it's own host of problems. NBC

Anyway. Just for the record. I have given my children the basic shots. They both managed to get whooping cough. My nephew went into febrile seizures the day after getting vaccinated and then stopped babbling and has had learning disabilities since, my good friend got vaccinations forced on him while in the military and had multiple heart attacks the following week and my father had a military mandatory 'flu' shot which took him out for a month, another one of my good friends came down with polio soon after receiving the oral vaccine from Salk himself.

I know I won't convince the militant max-vaccers out there. But for anyone interested in more moderate approach. I would like to point them towards this site. http://smartvax.com/
posted by psycho-alchemy at 1:34 PM on July 2, 2015


No, you won't convince "militant max-vaccers" (sic) to ignore science with some unsupported anecdotes. How unreasonable we are.
posted by Yoko Ono's Advice Column at 1:54 PM on July 2, 2015 [5 favorites]


P.S. That is a straight-up anti-vax website, not a moderate approach. It baldly states that "vaccine-injury risk is greater than disease-risk." It pushes Andrew Wakefield.
posted by Yoko Ono's Advice Column at 2:23 PM on July 2, 2015 [8 favorites]


Heh. I'll be the "max-vaxxing" boogieman, if it makes you happy, p-a. I once volunteered as part of a test population for a new vaccine! My primary recollection was that the needle was FUCKING ENORMOUS because of how it was formulated in the trial stages ... it's like a regular vaccine now that it's commercially formulated. It was a Hepatitis A vaccine, actually; I had a household member who was diagnosed with Hep A (after traveling in an area with an outbreak going on and eating local food) so I was in an at-risk population, and our local hospital was running one of the general-population trials. I was juuuuuuust old enough to be in the test subject group and they offered it to me, so I took it! It later turned out that my household member did NOT have Hep A, just a totally unrelated liver problem that resolved on its own, but by then I was already (*truck rally announcer voice*) VAXX-MAXXED to resist Hepatitis A, which was pretty great. Especially when my college started requiring it and I was like, "Already got it!" and they were like, "No you didn't it's brand new" and I was like slamming down my medical record with my trial participation on the desk and being like "BOOM, YOU JUST GOT VAXX-MAXXED."

A+++++ would accept trial vaccines in my body again.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 2:27 PM on July 2, 2015 [23 favorites]


Eyebrows McGee: "VAXX-MAXXED"

I want this in 80s chrome font on a black t-shirt immediately.
posted by Rock Steady at 2:35 PM on July 2, 2015 [5 favorites]




I also live in CA. My daughter goes to a school with about an 8% personal/religious exemption rate. Over 11% of the kids aren't up to date on their immunizations overall. Almost 10% don't have their DTaP, and about 9% are without MMR and polio. Whooping cough goes around every year like it's the flu, and we had mumps in the school last year.

I'm so glad this bill has passed, and unhappy that it doesn't mean much for my little girl right now. I really wish the law applied to kids currently in public schools.
posted by moira at 8:51 PM on July 2, 2015 [3 favorites]


psycho-alchemy: If the US recalls something, they will often ship it overseas.

Yes, and that's a bad thing, but I'm not in any of the countries mentioned. Neither am I in a country with a "naive [sic] population with other health complications and malnutrition issues". Maybe you should head to your local art supply store and invest in some smaller brushes?
posted by Too-Ticky at 1:25 AM on July 3, 2015 [6 favorites]


Many years ago my grandmother told me I used to have two uncles. Then during World War I, in Germany where they lived, their town had a wave of diphtheria go through and her younger brother died of it.

And I think of all those diseases I've never gotten or even seen and I think, so that's what immunization means to modern society.

Then I think of the child in Spain and how maybe 70 years from now one of his siblings will tell their grandchild about once having a brother and how he died, and how I felt. And in that moment, the facts about the good immunization does and the emotional impact of what it means slam together for me and I want to find Andrew Wakefield and shake him by the shoulders until candy* comes out his ears.

* Or brain matter. It doesn't matter that much to me.
posted by mephron at 7:09 AM on July 3, 2015 [1 favorite]


Adverse effects from vaccination occur at circa one in one or two million. And you personally know of five cases. Dude, you should be buying lottery tickets.
posted by five fresh fish at 7:13 AM on July 3, 2015 [9 favorites]


I am an Anti-Braker.
posted by logicpunk at 10:13 AM on July 3, 2015 [6 favorites]


Heh. I'll be the "max-vaxxing" boogieman, if it makes you happy, p-a. I once volunteered as part of a test population for a new vaccine!

Me too, well I got an extra vaccine for SCIENCE! In my case it was a study on two different delivery methods of the Yellow Fever vaccine to help study the reaction people with eczema have to live virus vaccines. So, not only did I get extra vaccinated, I did it in a way that will help even MORE people be able to get vaccines, take that medical exemptions.

I feel like we max-vaxxers should get some sort of commemorative patch or pin or something.
posted by Gygesringtone at 11:01 AM on July 3, 2015 [4 favorites]


I'll design you a patch in a bit. I think it's a cool idea.
posted by mephron at 11:18 AM on July 3, 2015 [2 favorites]


Oh! I think I get to be a max-vaxxer too! My paternal grandmother died of tuberculosis several years before I was born, but that meant that there was a fairly solid chance that my father could be an asymptomatic carrier, so I got a TB vaccine as an infant. This was in the UK in the mid-seventies; googling indicates that it was probably the BCG vaccine. Now that my husband takes Humira, which makes him exceptionally vulnerable to TB, I'm pretty glad I have it, even though TB isn't a real concern in my area.

The only downside to having it is that the antibodies mean that I have a weak reaction to the standard four-prong skin TB test. We had these a lot in elementary school, because I grew up in Houston, and my schoolmates frequently included children of migrant workers, and that's a population where TB is more prevalent. And any time we had an exposure or expected exposure, everyone in school had to get a TB test. And every time, mine would react, and everyone would freak out. By the time I was in third grade I would tell the nurse "This is going to react weakly because I got a TB vaccine as a baby. No, there IS a TB vaccine, we just don't use it here, I was born in England. If you have one of the subcutaneous titer tests available, it will show that I don't have TB. If you don't, please write down that I told you this so that my parents don't get another scary letter."
posted by KathrynT at 12:38 PM on July 3, 2015 [3 favorites]


My wife (and most other veterinary professionals, to be fair) gets the rabies vaccine, which seems pretty damn maxx to me.
posted by Rock Steady at 6:49 PM on July 3, 2015 [2 favorites]


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