Chicken Pox, Lollipops?
November 7, 2011 11:12 AM   Subscribe

A Facebook post reads, "I got a Pox Package in mail just moments ago. I have two lollipops and a wet rag and spit." Pox parties not in your town? "non-vaccinating parents who despair of finding a way to infect their children with chicken pox (intended to create natural immunity) are joining Facebook groups to acquire the virus through the mail." The science based community reacts.
posted by pianomover (325 comments total) 26 users marked this as a favorite
 
For the love of God 21st Century if you keep doing this we're going to hit Peak Freak Out in five years.
posted by The Whelk at 11:15 AM on November 7, 2011 [42 favorites]


My brain just did a 360 in my skull, now I'm dead. Thanks, freaks.
posted by Stonestock Relentless at 11:16 AM on November 7, 2011 [30 favorites]


And I thought that my capacity for getting weirded out had already been broken.
posted by Horselover Phattie at 11:16 AM on November 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


Jesus Christ.
posted by Iridic at 11:16 AM on November 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


A friend posted about this on Twitter the other day. My head also nearly exploded. While I have a germ of understanding re chicken pox (we all had it as kids and we're just fine and all that), the measles thing? Seriously, WTF?
posted by devinemissk at 11:18 AM on November 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


I repeat in my head "Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity" and ask myself "Why not both?"
posted by Saydur at 11:18 AM on November 7, 2011 [68 favorites]


How is this different than sending anthrax through the mail? Send 'em to Guantanamo.

OK, I'm using hyperbole. But just a smidge.
posted by JoanArkham at 11:20 AM on November 7, 2011 [8 favorites]


(And by "germ of understanding" I am referring more to gaining chicken pox immunity via exposure rather than being vaccinated, not to the insanity of sending infected materials THROUGH THE EFFING MAIL.)
posted by devinemissk at 11:21 AM on November 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


This isn't "spreading natural immunity," this is knowingly infecting children with a disease that could be eradicated. The reality is that when there was no vaccination and nearly every adult who did not have a natural immunity would have had the disease at some point in their lives, there may have been some benefit to catching it while young when a robust immune system is better able to fight it off. This is no longer the case.

I never had chicken pox. I'm now 30 years old, and have been trying to keep up on literature about the vaccination, as I really do not want to have it. Do you know what I really do not want? Shingles. The funny thing is that you get shingles as an adult as a resurgence of the chicken pox virus that is resident, but dormant, in your body. There is a separate shingles vaccine for those individuals over 60, but it's believed that the chicken pox vaccine (and having not had chicken pox) should protect you.

Being against all vaccination is pretty dumb, but purposefully exposing yourself and your children to diseases is a new level of stupid. Vaccines have very few side effects. Illnesses have primary symptoms!
posted by mikeh at 11:21 AM on November 7, 2011 [37 favorites]


I wasn't aware that "pox parties" themselves were only among the anti–vaccination crowd. I'm pretty sure that they were common practice in some times and some areas.
posted by Jehan at 11:22 AM on November 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


They are utterly self-absorbed, selfish, and lack concern for anyone but themselves and their own family

No, I'm pretty sure they don't care about themselves and their family. If they did, the oft-repeated notion that they are doing something dangerous to their kids would perhaps give them pause. This is more the type of person who lives by tradition, and regards all other modes of decision-making with grave suspicion.
posted by LogicalDash at 11:22 AM on November 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


I can sort of understand pox parties, and not vaccinating for chicken pox. I think they're wrong, but "chicken pox is no big deal" is hard to get out of the public consciousness.

Sending infectious spit through the mail, though? Because every adult is still immune, and none of them will get shingles or any of the very highly bad complications? Every time the anti-vaccine movement does something, it's in the direction of increased crazy.
posted by jeather at 11:22 AM on November 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


this is like WOW.

am all for more science behind allergy testing so that bad reactions to any medication/vaccination are averted. that's always been my point of contention when these vaccionation discussions pop-up.

but this? POX PARTIES? with INFECTED LOLLIPOPS?!?! there are no words.
posted by liza at 11:22 AM on November 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


There's a post on Tara Smith's Aetiology about this as well.
posted by smcameron at 11:22 AM on November 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Shingles bug chasers must be delighted.
posted by Sticherbeast at 11:23 AM on November 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


On the page, parents post where they live and ask if anyone with a child who has the chicken pox would be willing to send saliva, infected lollipops or clothing through the mail.

So. Fucking. Gross.

I am really astounded by the hysteria about vaccines, or at least shocked that people who think that vaccines are unsafe will give their kid a rag that's been spat on by some unknown sick kid.
posted by beau jackson at 11:23 AM on November 7, 2011 [35 favorites]


It's my tea party and I'll scratch if I want to.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:23 AM on November 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


Natural selection in action.
posted by crunchland at 11:23 AM on November 7, 2011 [6 favorites]


Unfortunately not shocking that people who already clearly have zero concern for the well-being of other fellow humans would take this to the next level. At least, maybe, now their lack of concern could lead to actual legal consequences.
posted by IvoShandor at 11:23 AM on November 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


See also Chickenpox (South Park).
posted by Nelson at 11:23 AM on November 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Message to parents trying to infect their children with chicken pox:

WHEN YOU INFECT YOUR CHILDREN WITH CHICKEN POX, YOU ARE DOING THE SAME THING AS GIVING THEM A VACCINATION! EXCEPT WITH A VACCINATION, YOU DON'T GET CHICKEN POX! I FEEL LIKE I'M TAKING CRAZY PILLS HERE!



sometimes I think every day is caps lock day
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 11:24 AM on November 7, 2011 [240 favorites]


I wasn't aware that "pox parties" themselves were only among the anti–vaccination crowd. I'm pretty sure that they were common practice in some times and some areas.

They were common, back when the vaccine wasn't available. Nowadays, the vaccine is part of the regular schedule of shots all children receive, and those who refuse it are generally anti-vax.
posted by devinemissk at 11:25 AM on November 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


I think the best indicator of how fringe and dumb this is happens to be the fact that they know no one who has chicken pox locally. When I was in elementary school, you could count on the disease going through kids in series, several times a year. Apparently it's now rare enough that these parents are attempting to mail order the disease! Not even hooking up with parents in a neighboring town.
posted by mikeh at 11:25 AM on November 7, 2011 [9 favorites]


Is there a vaccine that will get the image of a chicken-pox infected lollipop out of my head?
posted by Horace Rumpole at 11:26 AM on November 7, 2011 [5 favorites]


People have been deliberately exposing their kids to chicken pox for approximately forever, on a "get it over with early" principle. I guess that became less common once the vaccine was introduced (1995 in the US, as early as 1988 in Japan). I understand that my own mother sent me to play with a friend who had chicken pox when I was very young, but I didn't catch it, and ended up contracting it the old-fashioned way in 1992 (on the last day of seventh grade, thankyouverymuch).

But we have laws against sending contagious diseases through the mail for very good reasons.
posted by Faint of Butt at 11:26 AM on November 7, 2011 [4 favorites]


How can these people possibly rationalize exposing everyone else to the pathogens that they are sending through the freaking mail? This stupidity really has gone too far.

Also -- what TheWhiteSkull said. My brain asplode.

Prosecute 'em.
posted by blurker at 11:26 AM on November 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


No, this is an urban legend, right? Like the one where Bill Gates and AOL were going to give me a million dollars if I forwarded an email?

Oh god please tell me this is a hoax.
posted by lekvar at 11:26 AM on November 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


Wow.

So afraid of science that they'd rather expose their children to live disease to keep them safe.

(That said, I can definitely sympathize with the lack of trust in The System.)
posted by DU at 11:27 AM on November 7, 2011


I'm outraged.
posted by philip-random at 11:27 AM on November 7, 2011


They were common, back when the vaccine wasn't available. Nowadays, the vaccine is part of the regular schedule of shots all children receive, and those who refuse it are generally anti-vax.

Yeah, I've done some searching, and it turns out that chickenpox vaccine isn't used in the UK. That's probably why I'm assuming "pox parties" were still pretty usual, because they are.
posted by Jehan at 11:27 AM on November 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


I've always been confused about chicken pox. I was born in the 70s, along with my siblings and my closest friends. We've all been vaxed with the standard vaccinations. But, as it turns out, everybody I know has had chicken pox at some point in my life except for me; and not for lack of trying. I used to hang out with every single child I knew with chicken pox hoping to get it before I was a teenager, having heard stories of how apparently horrible it would be to get chicken pox when I was an adult. My confusion, of course, is that how is it that so many people I know got vaccinated but got chicken pox anyways, and why didn't I ever get it? So, either I'm the only one that actually got vaccinated for it and my older and younger brothers for some reason did not. Or. I'M FREAKING AWESOME AND TOTALLY IMMUNE YEAAAAAHHHH!!!

No, it's still confusing to me.

And what kid puts a lollipop in their mouth that has been in another kid's mouth? I'm sure that it's patently gross to do so for all children between about 4 and 14.
posted by jabberjaw at 11:28 AM on November 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


I think parents who think this is a bright idea should have to go hang out with an old person who has a case of shingles. My grandfather did. IN HIS EYE. I mean, his vision was bad enough already, but that certainly didn't help and his cranky demeanor was most definitely not helped.
posted by mikeh at 11:28 AM on November 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


TheWhiteSkull, the hysteria over vaccinations has little to do with whether they work, and more with discomfort about the method of delivery. Some parents hate needles and believe their phobia means something; others heard that there was mercury in vaccine media, and don't believe in scientific progress, so they expect there's still mercury today.
posted by LogicalDash at 11:28 AM on November 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


This is illegal in the United States. Federal law prohibits using US Mail or private shipping companies to transmit infectious materials. Someone's going to get prosecuted.
posted by decathecting at 11:28 AM on November 7, 2011 [10 favorites]


How can these people possibly rationalize exposing everyone else to the pathogens that they are sending through the freaking mail?

You don't understand! They're putting the pathogens in baggies Maybe even the kind where the sides of the seals are yellow and blue so you'll no for sure you sealed it tight when they turn green. Not only will that keep the pathogens in, it also locks in that fresh poxy-flavor of the lollipop.
posted by Joey Michaels at 11:28 AM on November 7, 2011 [10 favorites]


My confusion, of course, is that how is it that so many people I know got vaccinated but got chicken pox anyways, and why didn't I ever get it?

jabberjaw, the chicken pox vaccination was not really widespread in the US until 1995. So either you have a natural immunity, were lucky enough not to catch it, or caught a really mild case and never noticed. Were I you, I'd mention this to your doctor since getting vaccinated now would not be a horrible idea.
posted by mikeh at 11:29 AM on November 7, 2011 [4 favorites]


If you don't like The System you can buy your own vaccines. I got my flu vaccine for like three bucks, no insurance. I guess it's different when you've got a child without the basic stuff yet? But if you're gonna be paranoid you should be ready to spend a lot.
posted by LogicalDash at 11:29 AM on November 7, 2011


Coming from a country that for some reason doesn't vaccinate against chicken pox, I can attest that it's no big deal. They all get it in creche at some point, and that's it over with.
posted by GallonOfAlan at 11:29 AM on November 7, 2011


So afraid of science that they'd rather expose their children to live disease to keep them safe.


It's funny how the radical right and the radical left seem to converge at a self-centered distrust of science and culture.
posted by Apropos of Something at 11:30 AM on November 7, 2011 [29 favorites]


Jehan, yeah, I should have been more precise -- pox parties used to be very common in the U.S., and now that the varicella vaccine is part of the regular schedule in the U.S., they occur (I think nearly exclusively) among those with anti-vax leanings.*

*This, to me, includes both those who don't want to vaccinate their kids at all as well as those who want to delay or otherwise alter the regular schedule of vaccines because they are concerned about the safety of vaccines in general.
posted by devinemissk at 11:31 AM on November 7, 2011


Coming from a country that for some reason doesn't vaccinate against chicken pox, I can attest that it's no big deal. They all get it in creche at some point, and that's it over with.

100-150 children died in the US from chicken pox every year, before they introduced the vaccine. Also, the nice thing about a vaccine is that you don't actually have to get chicken pox.
posted by Sticherbeast at 11:31 AM on November 7, 2011 [21 favorites]


Is there a vaccine that will get the image of a chicken-pox infected lollipop out of my head?

It just so happens that you're in luck!
posted by lekvar at 11:31 AM on November 7, 2011 [4 favorites]


Behaving like a nutjob causes people to distrust you. It catches.
posted by LogicalDash at 11:31 AM on November 7, 2011


For what it's worth, if they're able to pass on live samples of the varicella zoster virus this will also possibly pass on another popular member of the herpes family: HSV-1. Cold sores aren't a big deal, but if you're passing around contaminated saliva, you might get more than you bargained for.
posted by mikeh at 11:32 AM on November 7, 2011 [8 favorites]


I had chicken pox TWICE -- as a toddler and as a 12-year-old -- and it was horrible both times. I still have literal scars. (And yes, I know you're not supposed to be able to get it more than once, but I really did.) I GLADLY vaccinated my kids against it and am thrilled that they will likely never have to experience the awfulness of that illness.
posted by mothershock at 11:32 AM on November 7, 2011 [5 favorites]


btw, as a child of the 70s, i may have been thrown into a den with other kids with chicken pox. i dont recall ever getting it but remember both my brother & sisters pox. so 80s or 90s peeps here freaking out over chicken pox are too young to remember the days when there were no vaccines.

i'd love to know why the UK hasnt approved chicken pox vaccination. am wondering what other countries havent done so either.
posted by liza at 11:33 AM on November 7, 2011


Okay, so the mail-order thing is new, but families I know--including mine--did this when I was growing up, despite being entirely in favor of vaccination. As I recall, the chicken pox vaccine wasn't widely available until rather recently. Europe apparently doesn't really vaccinate for this at all.

The theory as I recall it was that most people are going to get chicken pox at some point, but it's one of the few diseases that hits adults a lot worse than kids, so you may as well get it over with when it's at its mildest and you aren't likely to remember it anyway.

As part of the whole anti-vac thing, it's crazy, but there are non-crazy reasons for doing it. Chicken pox is still pretty mild as viral infections that aren't the common cold go, particularly in kids, and there does appear to be research to suggest that immunity gained as a result of a childhood infection is more likely to be life-long and less likely to result in shingles later in life.

So I'd characterize this as a blind pig finding a truffle now and then rather than as a part of a legitimate public health program, but just because crazy people like it doesn't mean that the thing, itself, is crazy. So yeah, I'll vaccinate my hypothetical kids for this when it comes time, but the dogpiling here is probably a bit much.
posted by valkyryn at 11:33 AM on November 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


WHEN YOU INFECT YOUR CHILDREN WITH CHICKEN POX, YOU ARE DOING THE SAME THING AS GIVING THEM A VACCINATION! EXCEPT WITH A VACCINATION, YOU DON'T GET CHICKEN POX! I FEEL LIKE I'M TAKING CRAZY PILLS HERE!

And even better is that there'll be an overlap with homeopathy nuts who think that they can get better by drinking water that was waved past something at some point in the past (the modern liberal vial of the waters of Lourdes) but will insist vaccination makes no sense.

After the epidemic of measles - a, you know, fatal disease - in New Zealand that's spread as a result of these mornons, I'm all out of patience.
posted by rodgerd at 11:33 AM on November 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


How long would the virus even survive in an envelope? Hours? Days?
posted by rh at 11:34 AM on November 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Apropos of Something: " It's funny how the radical right and the radical left seem to converge at a self-centered distrust of science and culture."

Funny unless, like me, you just recently read The Handmaid's Tale. And then it just doesn't seem very funny at all. Just inspiring scary sequel ideas.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 11:34 AM on November 7, 2011 [6 favorites]


Anyone else reminded of the scene in the John Adam's mini-series where Abigail has the local doctor inoculate her and the children for the pox?
posted by crunchland at 11:35 AM on November 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


Liza, here's an article about why children in the UK don't get the varicella vaccine. AFAIK, the jury is still out on whether the vaccine creates a risk of shingles or not.
posted by devinemissk at 11:35 AM on November 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Most of them would die out in an hour or two. But you don't need a whole lot of virus to get sick.
posted by LogicalDash at 11:35 AM on November 7, 2011


This is just the sort of thing that makes my irrational fear of zombies seem more reasonable.
posted by armisme at 11:37 AM on November 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


it's one of the few diseases that hits adults a lot worse than kids, so you may as well get it over with when it's at its mildest and you aren't likely to remember it anyway.

It really is awful to get it as an adult. My aunt got it when she was a 19-year old college sophomore and ended up in the university infirmary for two weeks.

I got it when I was in sixth grade, and it was pretty awful. I, too, still have scars. I do not wish that experience on my child AT ALL, and my child will be getting the vaccine. Period.
posted by devinemissk at 11:37 AM on November 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


A plague o' both your houses. I am sped using somewhat, ahem, alternative inoculation methods.
posted by MuffinMan at 11:38 AM on November 7, 2011


Doctors and medical experts are concerned about a new trend taking place on Facebook. Parents are trading live viruses through the mail in order to infect their children.

I want to make some sort of joke about getting viruses in the mail for real, is so much more hardcore than complaining about computer viruses, but I just can't muster the funny. This is some seriously fucked up shit.

On the page, parents post where they live and ask if anyone with a child who has the chicken pox would be willing to send saliva, infected lollipops or clothing through the mail.

I'm trying to imagine the absolute meltdown that would result in rumors that some pedophile sex offenders were getting their hands on some kids clothes or whatever through one of these mailing lists. Watching the overdeveloped sense of fear engendered by anti-vaccine rhetoric duel with Protect The Kids from Strangers would be an amazing thing to behold.
posted by quin at 11:39 AM on November 7, 2011 [4 favorites]


jabberjaw, you may be confusing the MMR vaccine with the chickenpox vaccine.

I read about this a few days ago and was surprised, but it's super duper illegal and unlikely to gain a lot of traction [plus innefective, did anyone mention that?] but, like the Mickey Mouse acid, it will buzz around the innarnets shocking people for months, maybe years.
posted by jessamyn at 11:39 AM on November 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


Reminds me of a chapter in one of the Great Brain books.
posted by zzazazz at 11:39 AM on November 7, 2011 [6 favorites]


Federal law prohibits using US Mail or private shipping companies to transmit infectious materials. Someone's going to get prosecuted.

Oh, man. Won't that be a circus? Jenny McCarthy testifying for the defense?
posted by Thorzdad at 11:39 AM on November 7, 2011


This is illegal in the United States. Federal law prohibits using US Mail or private shipping companies to transmit infectious materials. Someone's going to get prosecuted.

In Tennessee maybe.
posted by pianomover at 11:39 AM on November 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Federal law prohibits using US Mail or private shipping companies to transmit infectious materials. Someone's going to get prosecuted. --- As if the raid on the Gibson factory wasn't bad enough. Start arresting luddite conservative soccer mom's and all hell will break loose.
posted by crunchland at 11:42 AM on November 7, 2011


I have chicken pox, and I licked this comment before posting it. Get all your unvaccinated children to lick it, and you will be HAIL LIZARD OVERLOR....oh, damn, nervous tic...
posted by Salvor Hardin at 11:43 AM on November 7, 2011 [8 favorites]


but the dogpiling here is probably a bit much.

No, the yahoos in question are trying to send diseases through the US mail. Now, they're probably too dim to actually do much harm, but the idea is fractally stupid. No amount of dogpiling on that idea is too much.
posted by octobersurprise at 11:45 AM on November 7, 2011 [22 favorites]


sending through the mail - straight up nuts.

pox parties - i mean, we didn't have a name for them - but around 1987 one of the older kids got chicken pox and then 5 or 7 or so of us were thrown in a room with food, a tv, some movies, some games and we had to spend all day there. voila! chicken pox for everyone!
posted by nadawi at 11:45 AM on November 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yep, in the old days (like the 50s/60s) when the kids in the house next door got chickenpox (it could have been mumps, measles...I really can't remember), we'd get the order to "go play over at the Smiths" for a couple of days. It was one of those diseases that you hoped you had before you grew up and it would become much worse...
posted by kozad at 11:45 AM on November 7, 2011


Yes, when I was a kid there was no vaccine, everyone got Chicken Pox eventually. We didn't have parties to spread it but parents didn't go out of their way to keep us away from kids with Chicken Pox either. At least according to the folk takes, the older you are the worse it is so it is better to get it out of the way.

Now we have vaccines so yeah, these people are morons.
posted by Ad hominem at 11:46 AM on November 7, 2011


Pox parties might've made sense before the vaccine, but now they're about as sensible as telling your kids to go sleep around to catch HPV.
posted by Horselover Phattie at 11:47 AM on November 7, 2011 [5 favorites]


WHEN YOU INFECT YOUR CHILDREN WITH CHICKEN POX, YOU ARE DOING THE SAME THING AS GIVING THEM A VACCINATION! EXCEPT WITH A VACCINATION, YOU DON'T GET CHICKEN POX! I FEEL LIKE I'M TAKING CRAZY PILLS HERE!


And you are making it more likely that others, especially adults, will be affected by the disease.
posted by Ironmouth at 11:47 AM on November 7, 2011 [10 favorites]


This is further proof, as if any were needed, that you can get people to do anything as long as you tell them it's "natural".

...and I think I've just solved China's image problem vis-a-vis poisoning their customers...
posted by aramaic at 11:47 AM on November 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


I repeat in my head "Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity" and ask myself "Why not both?"

It doesn't really matter which is responsible when a) it puts others at risk or harms them and b) they actively defend their behavior. "Good natured" ignorance goes, "Oh, I didn't know. Let me do the minimum amount of research at least and find out. Oh! Let me not do that anymore."

Whether it's ignorance or malice that goes, "No! Fuck you! You're wrong! Don't tell me what to do!" it really doesn't matter - they're doing things that cause harm and need to be stopped.
posted by yeloson at 11:50 AM on November 7, 2011 [4 favorites]


I've also read at least one report where a woman was looking for Measles. I think you're stepping into much more dangerous territory there and putting people, especially the very young or immuno-suppressed at risk.

There is a good write-up at the Science-Based Medicine blog...

http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/index.php/pox-parties-taken-to-the-next-illegal-level/#more-17429
posted by PJLandis at 11:52 AM on November 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


as sensible as telling your kids to go sleep around to catch HPV

that's only comparable if getting HPV once as a child lasts a week and then makes you immune forever.
posted by nadawi at 11:54 AM on November 7, 2011


Having had shingles 3 times, all I can say is that I wish I had a vaccine available when I was a kid so I wouldn't have to worry about getting it again. I'm looking forward to getting the shingles vaccine, but apparently I can't get it until I'm 60.
posted by Blackanvil at 11:54 AM on November 7, 2011 [4 favorites]




What would Baron Amherst Do?
posted by symbioid at 11:55 AM on November 7, 2011


Psst! PJLandis! That's the "reacts" link in the FPP.
posted by Joey Michaels at 11:55 AM on November 7, 2011




> that's only comparable if getting HPV once as a child lasts a week and then makes you immune forever.

Oh, I know that the comparison isn't logically sound, but that's not what I was going for.
posted by Horselover Phattie at 12:01 PM on November 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


I wasn't aware that "pox parties" themselves were only among the anti–vaccination crowd. I'm pretty sure that they were common practice in some times and some areas.

They were common, back when the vaccine wasn't available.


Totally! When my siblings and I got the chicken pox in the late 80s on the military base where we lived, some friends of my Mom brought their kids over to get it, too.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 12:02 PM on November 7, 2011


It's not that big a deal. I had the chicken pox, as did most people. I'm not looking forward to the shingles, but, meh. The annual death rate was only ever in the double digits, and most of those were immune-compromised adults.

Now, that said, what these people are doing is CRAZY. It's super-duper-mega irresponsible. They don't know what they're getting. The disease-mailer could be sending something other than chickenpox, either deliberately or accidentally; most laypeople can't tell the difference between measles and chickenpox, for a start.
posted by Sys Rq at 12:02 PM on November 7, 2011


I can attest that it's no big deal. They all get it in creche at some point, and that's it over with.

It can be a very big deal. I had them internally. All down my throat and in my ears and god knows where else. I couldn't eat, had trouble breathing and was in excruciating pain. I realize that is rare, but so are the side effects of the vaccine. My kids got the shot.
posted by jrossi4r at 12:02 PM on November 7, 2011 [9 favorites]


I wasn't aware that "pox parties" themselves were only among the anti–vaccination crowd. I'm pretty sure that they were common practice in some times and some areas.

You're right, they were common -- in the days before we had vaccines.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:03 PM on November 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


For anyone like me who was wondering: NHS Choices: Why aren't children in the UK vaccinated against chickenpox?
The chickenpox vaccine is not part of the UK childhood vaccination programme, because experts think that introducing a chickenpox vaccination for children could increase the risk of shingles in older people. It is used to protect people who are most at risk of a serious chickenpox infection.

Chickenpox is usually a mild illness, particularly in children. The condition is so common in childhood that 90% of adults who grow up in the UK are immune to the chickenpox virus because they have had it before.

How can these people possibly rationalize exposing everyone else to the pathogens that they are sending through the freaking mail?

As a professional virus guy, if I did this I'd expect to say goodbye to my career and possibly end up in jail. The harmless, non-replicating viruses that I occasionally ship have to go inside several layers of special packaging, be handled by special couriers and be accompanied by several pages of paperwork. I can only imagine what I'd need to do to legally ship viable Varicella zoster.
posted by metaBugs at 12:03 PM on November 7, 2011 [10 favorites]


Federal law prohibits using US Mail or private shipping companies to transmit infectious materials. Someone's going to get prosecuted. --- As if the raid on the Gibson factory wasn't bad enough. Start arresting luddite conservative soccer mom's and all hell will break loose.

Sorry - if you're mailing diseases, you need to be arrested.
posted by odinsdream at 12:03 PM on November 7, 2011 [7 favorites]


The rumor I just started is that some sick pedo is wanking onto lollipops. What's worse is that the creep has Hep-C.
posted by five fresh fish at 12:03 PM on November 7, 2011 [21 favorites]


Apparently there's now talk about how the rabies vaccine can cause autism. ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME. If your child is bitten by a rabid animal and you don't give them rabies shots and they die (which is highly likely considering that rabies has something like a 99.9% mortality rate when untreated) then you should be charged with murder. Plain and simple.
posted by kmz at 12:03 PM on November 7, 2011 [9 favorites]


It's a self-correcting problem, generally - these idiots are actively killing off their young, for all intents and purposes. Just more crimes to lay at the feet of Andrew Wakefield.
posted by Old'n'Busted at 12:03 PM on November 7, 2011


Dr. Elizabeth Jacobs credited in the television piece for originally finding the Facebook posts has numerous articles on vaccinations and the reluctance of community members to forgo them.
posted by pianomover at 12:04 PM on November 7, 2011


Comment from the "Respectful Insolence" link:

It's amazing to me that many parents won't let their kids touch the handle of a grocery store shopping cart and others would let them eat a used lollipop they got from a stranger on Facebook.

Posted by: Vincent Iannelli, MD | November 5, 2011 11:30 AM
posted by emhutchinson at 12:04 PM on November 7, 2011 [10 favorites]


It's a self-correcting problem, generally - these idiots are actively killing off their young, for all intents and purposes.

And other people.
posted by Sys Rq at 12:06 PM on November 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


I'm generally not in favor of the authorities putting out honey pots to charge people with crimes ("Bait Car" is one of the more disgusting examples), but in this case it seems very right for the FBI to infiltrate these groups and solicit pox packages.
posted by Horselover Phattie at 12:06 PM on November 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Declare its teh 3rd world in the New World already. Gah. The idiocy of the privileged.
posted by infini at 12:07 PM on November 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


I never had chicken pox. I'm now 30 years old, and have been trying to keep up on literature about the vaccination, as I really do not want to have it. Do you know what I really do not want? Shingles. The funny thing is that you get shingles as an adult as a resurgence of the chicken pox virus that is resident, but dormant, in your body.

I had chicken pox as a child, and also developed shingles at the age of 32 (no idea why).
posted by KokuRyu at 12:07 PM on November 7, 2011


It's not that big a deal. I had the chicken pox, as did most people.

Well, it all depends on who gets it. If a child transmits it to an adult, especially an elderly adult, it can be fatal. If a child transmits it to a pregnant woman, it can lead to fetal varicella syndrome, which includes such delightful side-effects as neurological disorders and brain damage. Also, newborns who contract the illness have high risk of pneumonia.

Or, I guess if a child transmits the disease, or a package in the mail transmits the disease.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 12:10 PM on November 7, 2011 [6 favorites]


I had chicken pox as a child, and also developed shingles at the age of 32 (no idea why).

That's how it works. Read the comment you quoted!
posted by Sys Rq at 12:10 PM on November 7, 2011


You're right, they were common -- in the days before we had vaccines.

Sure, but the point is that as a community the UK doesn't use the vaccine. Whatever the rights and wrongs of this choice, it means that you don't have to be anti–vaccination here to take part in "pox parties". I agree that receiving items of unknown provenance through the post and exposing your child to them is thoughtless, the basic idea of helping to spread chickenpox through a community to ensure exposure, is not. It's a perfectly reasonable response to not having a vaccine.
posted by Jehan at 12:11 PM on November 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


Do you know what blew my mind: the idea that there was a Chicken Pox vaccine. I got it as a kid, and kind of expected it to be an eternal rite of passage. I heard of parents sending their kids to play with the family that had Chicken Pox, to get it over with, but now kids don't have to go through that? Fantastic!

But it goes from being a childhood tradition to something scary when you're involving 3rd parties without their consent. Sure, you wrapped up those lolly pops so well, but you're threatening mail handlers, carriers, and others who get their mail from the same lot as your box o' pox.
posted by filthy light thief at 12:14 PM on November 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


For what it's worth, if they're able to pass on live samples of the varicella zoster virus this will also possibly pass on another popular member of the herpes family: HSV-1. Cold sores aren't a big deal, but if you're passing around contaminated saliva, you might get more than you bargained for.

Aaaaagh. This! Why would you risk giving your kid another weird disease? Why would people do this?

The germophobe in me is scratching off my skin to KILL THE GERMS!
posted by hot_monster at 12:14 PM on November 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Do you know what I really do not want? Shingles.

You're certainly right about that...usually it shows up in adults, but I had it as a kid. Besides the itching and the pain, I was confined to bed for about a month, and missed the last day of school. The only GOOD day of school, damnit.

Even worse - the herpes simplex virus also re-emerged a few years ago as ocular herpes my right eye. If you've ever lit one of your eyeballs on fire, well, that's pretty much what it felt like.
posted by malocchio at 12:14 PM on November 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


I had chicken pox TWICE

Same here.
posted by mrbill at 12:14 PM on November 7, 2011


We just need to put these people in jail so as to quarantine their dangerous (and possibly infectious) levels of stupid. What's going to happen to these folks when we come out with an AIDS vaccine? That's one party I won't be attending.
posted by Edgewise at 12:16 PM on November 7, 2011


It's a perfectly reasonable response to not having a vaccine.

And a completely insane response when you have one.
posted by stevis23 at 12:16 PM on November 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


Do you know what I really do not want? Shingles.

One of my closest friends had shingles when he was in his early 30's and has said he would sincerely consider suicide as a preferable alternative should he ever get it again. So, yeah.
posted by Joey Michaels at 12:17 PM on November 7, 2011


Sure, but the point is that as a community the UK doesn't use the vaccine.

This story is not about the UK.
posted by kmz at 12:17 PM on November 7, 2011


Besides the itching and the pain, I was confined to bed for about a month, and missed the last day of school.

ME TOO. And that was the year I actually had a shot at the perfect attendance prize. I am still cheesed about it.
posted by devinemissk at 12:17 PM on November 7, 2011


I had chicken pox TWICE

Same here.


Well since are showing ours in response to seeing yours - I had typhoid TWICE in 1973
posted by infini at 12:19 PM on November 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


Aw man, my kid finally came down with Chickenpox! Geez, it already been five days since that lollipop I gave him. At least I know this is safe and could never result in something like meningitis or other horrible forms of feverish death.
posted by Slackermagee at 12:19 PM on November 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


This story is not about the UK

yes, but the UK is relevant in the discussion about pox parties.

again, sending through the mail - utterly insane and people should be jailed. parents gathering kids to give them chicken pox - really, not that big of a deal and isn't just an anti-vacc thing.
posted by nadawi at 12:19 PM on November 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


malocchio: "You're certainly right about that...usually it shows up in adults, but I had it as a kid. Besides the itching and the pain, I was confined to bed for about a month, and missed the last day of school. The only GOOD day of school, damnit."


Oh man, I never had Chicken Pox and thought I escaped it, but nope... 8th grade, LAST DAY! Yes, same. And then the first month of summer wasted. It was brutal. I never want to go through that again.
posted by symbioid at 12:20 PM on November 7, 2011


There are some horrible jokes to be made about encouraging kids to lick stuff over the internet and how usually the exchange of money is expected to go the other way and I'd like to note for the record that I am not making them even though doing so would relieve my brain from exploding when thinking about this.

I brought home the chicken pox in January of my kindergarten year, when my brother was 2 and my sister was 4 months old. I had it pretty bad and my brother had it worse -- everywhere -- on his scalp, on his dick, on his eyelid, every where. I felt horrible, even as a five year old, about it even though I'd contracted it from someone else who'd returned to school too early, and such things probably shouldn't be 'blamed' anyway. My sister was, like I said, 4 months old, and, though my mom was an experienced parent, she was a little freaked about her new little girl being exposed. She got one pock. And has never had it again.

As an adult, I had shingles, and boy oh boy does it suck. If I had no clue how science worked, I might think that I was punished for infecting my sister as a young child. But, of course, we all know that I'm truly being punished for my sinful behavior as an adult.

Like has been said before, this type of anti-science crap proves that idiocy is not a left or right wing exclusive characteristic.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 12:23 PM on November 7, 2011 [4 favorites]


I had Chicken Pox three times and the third time it almost killed me. It was so severe, the local hospital thought I had smallpox and they put me into a bio-containment area and quarantined me from my parents and everyone else. It was terrifying.
posted by ColdChef at 12:23 PM on November 7, 2011 [20 favorites]


I had it twice too. Did you know that you can get it on the insides of your eyelids? I do. Also a classmate of mine died from getting chicken pox in 2nd grade and another friend almost died in 7th. It is not a harmless disease.
posted by futz at 12:25 PM on November 7, 2011 [8 favorites]


Sure, but the point is that as a community the UK doesn't use the vaccine.

This story is not about the UK.


"Not everything is about the UK, Sidney!"

Not a quote from anything. Just sounded funny to me.
posted by grubi at 12:25 PM on November 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


I think they should put these people in prison for child abuse at minimum.
posted by empath at 12:27 PM on November 7, 2011


This news is far more terrifying than anything I've heard all year. I cannot even begin to fathom why anyone would think that this is a good idea.

I kind of understand the idea of pox parties. I kind of get the fear of unknown consequences that might make a parent reluctant to vaccinate their children. I do not understand how this same fear of unknown consequences seems to evaporate when it comes to demanding that your kids to lick random ass things you got in the mail.

I can't even deal with this. Like, shit.
posted by emilycardigan at 12:28 PM on November 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


Do you know what blew my mind: the idea that there was a Chicken Pox vaccine. I got it as a kid, and kind of expected it to be an eternal rite of passage. I heard of parents sending their kids to play with the family that had Chicken Pox, to get it over with, but now kids don't have to go through that? Fantastic!


I got it when I was five, in 1983, and I definitely don't think my parents were TRYING to let me get it but they were relieved that I had it pretty young. My mother is a doctor and no way would she try to get her kid sick.

I had a mild case of shingles at 30. Mild. And it was horrible. I have an AskMe somewhere in there when I was trying to figure out what it was.
posted by sweetkid at 12:29 PM on November 7, 2011


I briefly worked for a non-profit that represents indigent parents accused of child neglect. By and large, the clients were single moms who were working or in school and got caught up in the system for things like not getting their kids to school on time, or not cleaning their apartment enough, or smoking weed.

If any of them started posting on facebook about their plans to intentionally infect their children with diseases, I cannot even imagine the wrath that child protective services would unleash upon them. I feel like my head is going to explode.
posted by dixiecupdrinking at 12:29 PM on November 7, 2011 [9 favorites]


mikeh: "I never had chicken pox. I'm now 30 years old, and have been trying to keep up on literature about the vaccination, as I really do not want to have it."

I never had chicken pox either despite the fact that my twin brother did and has the pock marks to prove it. I got a vaccine shot the other day but considering that direct exposure to the actual disease did nothing I'm not overly enthused about what effect the shot might have.

As soon as my kid gets the pox, I'm probably going to get pretty damn sick.
posted by Deathalicious at 12:29 PM on November 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Cold chef: Whoa.
posted by TheRedArmy at 12:30 PM on November 7, 2011


I never had Chicken Pox and thought I escaped it, but nope... 8th grade, LAST DAY! Yes, same. And then the first month of summer wasted.

Whole last week of fourth grade here. I caught it from my little brother who was in bed two days, and then up and running around playing with us other kids a couple days later with the scars still fading. I, on the other hand, was laid up for a week feeling miserable and feverish.

Worst of all -- and sometimes I can't believe my mother agreed to this -- was that the neighbor kid from across the street who also played with my brother a lot also caught it from him, and one day when I was laid up she had to run out to get something at the post office for 15 minutes, but didn't want to leave her son unattended -- but didn't want to take him along because she was afraid she'd infect everyone. So she asked if I could babysit him for 15 minutes. I just remember miserably getting dressed, all feverish, and then trudging across the street, lying on their couch feeling completely sorry for myself while she drove to the post office, and then dragging myself back home when she got back, where I immediately changed back into my pajamas and went to bed again.

I think the logic was that since I was already affected too, it would be okay, but -- even at age nine I knew that it was COMPLETLEY STUPID.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:30 PM on November 7, 2011


No, really....what kind of asshole parent gives their sick kid a lollipop and then TAKES IT AWAY after a few minutes? Forget sending disease through the mail, that shit's fucked up.
posted by nevercalm at 12:31 PM on November 7, 2011 [5 favorites]



I had chicken pox as a child, and also developed shingles at the age of 32 (no idea why).


Chicken Pox is caused by Varicella zoster which, despite the name, is a member of the Herpesviruses. This is a big, complex family of big, complex viruses. They don't have similar-sounding names because we started naming and grouping viruses before we had the tools to properly study them (mostly, electron microscopy and DNA sequencing) and so some of them ended up being grouped by characteristics like symptoms, transmissability, etc. rather than by how they're actually related. Things are better now, but a lot of confusing and inconsistent naming patterns exist, to the delight of aging Virology professors and the despair of their students everywhere.

Anyway, Varicella zoster does what all herpesviruses do: Some of the virus particles infect neurones that serve the patch of skin where the main infection is active, migrate up to the ganglion and lie dormant there. At some point in the future, some physiologically stressful event happens to the cell, which triggers the dormant virus to wake up, travel back down the neuron and set up a new infection when it reaches the skin at the end. Last time I studied Herpesviruses (6-7 years ago), no-one knew the mechanism for the virus suddenly becoming active again, but some combination of weakened immune surveillance and upregulation of a stress-induced transcription factor (a protein that "switches on" a specific set of genes) is where my money would lie.

So, if you've been infected with chicken pox (even if it's a symptomless infection that your vaccinated immune system mopped up before you noticed it), it's possible for the virus to re-emerge at some point, just like other kinds of herpes. Shingles tends to be localised to fairly well-defined patches of skin. Each of those patches shows you where the dormantly infected neuron(s) connect to, which is kind of cool in a hellishly unpleasant sort of way.

I can't remember clearly what the hypothesis was about why you get pox the first time and shingles the second, or why it's worse as an adult. I think it was something to do with biasing the immune response to Th1 vs. Th2-led responses (flood your bodies with antibodies against the virus vs. arming killer white blood cells to destroy infected cells), which also explained the reported increased risk of shingles with the vaccine compared to natural infection. But honestly, those lectures were too long ago and I was busy trying to chat up the cute girl next to me.

Failed the Metafilter comment, but got the girl.
posted by metaBugs at 12:31 PM on November 7, 2011 [63 favorites]


I've had it twice, as well, as a 3 year old and then at 17. I still have PLENTY of scars from the second bout, which I caught when someone took their infected child to the beach. :/
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 12:32 PM on November 7, 2011


Forget sending disease through the mail, that shit's fucked up..

Really? Should I forget love, too? And happiness? And the week we spent in Tuscany all those years ago when we were poor...
posted by TheRedArmy at 12:33 PM on November 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


I had chicken pox as a child, and also developed shingles at the age of 32 (no idea why).

That's how it works. Read the comment you quoted!


Wait, so...if you had chicken pox as a kid, you are at risk for shingles as an adult. But if you had the chicken pox vaccine, you are safe from shingles? But either way your blood tests or whatever will show that you are "immune" from chicken pox?

Not that I got out of the varicella vaccine by taking some blood test that proved I was "naturally immune" to chicken pox. Damn I hope that does not get me shingles in my old age.
posted by Snarl Furillo at 12:33 PM on November 7, 2011


Aren't other things going to grow on that warm, sugary, wet lollipop during its travels through the mail system? Bad things?

(I had the most minor case of chicken pox ever, and was able and allowed to do everything I normally would, only not with other people, which was perfectly fine for me, as I have been a misanthopist since I was little.)
posted by jeather at 12:34 PM on November 7, 2011


First, I want to be very clear that I think that sending this stuff through the mail is CRAZYPANTS.

That being said, I want to address this:

*This, to me, includes both those who don't want to vaccinate their kids at all as well as those who want to delay or otherwise alter the regular schedule of vaccines because they are concerned about the safety of vaccines in general.

FWIW, I got chicken pox (in 1975) at a chicken pox sleepover. I have permanent, disfiguring scars on my face as a result. My son is vax'd for chickenpox.

However, at my son's five year check up he was scheduled to be vax'd for a total of thirteen different diseases. Thirteen. I don't consider myself anti-vax by a longshot, but I have to confess that gave me pause. I'm well aware of the way that vaccination works, and the basics of how the immune system works, and it just ... well, frankly it freaks me out to force his immune system to fight that many different, varied things at once.

So, Metafilter can tar and feather me or bring down the wrath of the internet on me or call me ignorant (I'm not) or whatever, but I don't think it's reasonable to lump the mailing-germs-through-the-post crowd with those of us who would just prefer to space things out a little. I'm not concerned about the safety of individual vaccines. What does concern me is the safety and effectiveness of forcing the immune system to fight that many things at once, particularly since it's possible for a child to have a bad reaction to one of the vaccines and for the doctors now to not know which one because they've given so many together.

But you know what doesn't help bring reluctant parents around to your cause? Name-calling. Shaming. Threats ("send them to prison for child abuse"). It just makes these parents dig in their heels and want to distance themselves from you more.

What does help? More education. Less pushing of blind obedience ("do this because I told you it's safe"). More direct information that address parental concerns (like metaBugs great post). And maybe some changes that address those concerns, like possibly considering that the vaccination schedule that is designed for maximum parental and doctor's office convenience isn't necessarily the best or only way to do it.

(Now, I brace myself for the wrath of the internet for even suggesting that there is something wrong with the status quo. A weird feeling on MeFi, let me tell you.)
posted by anastasiav at 12:36 PM on November 7, 2011 [13 favorites]


A weird feeling on MeFi, let me tell you

NannyFi. FingerWaggingFi. EatYourVegetablesFi.
posted by stbalbach at 12:41 PM on November 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


My older sister and myself got chickenpox at ages 11 and 8 respectively. I have scars on my face from it. My sister is a pediatrician, but she's also delaying her child's vaccinations (he's going to get the recommended panel, but not at the recommended times). When I asked her why, she cites Peter Aaby's work on non-specific vaccine effects in Guinea-Bissau.

I sent her Seth Mnookin's "The Panic Virus" (great book), but I don't know what else to do. I have no explanation as to why she's suddenly succumbed to this variant of crazy (and I do think delaying the full panel is crazy, sorry), after all her education and training (although I suspect it's under some influence from her husband, who is ultra-Catholic enough that he convinced her not to get an amnio during her pregnancy (she was an older mother at 40 and amnio-screening for Down's is typically recommended for these women)).
posted by longdaysjourney at 12:44 PM on November 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


But if you had the chicken pox vaccine, you are safe from shingles?

Shingles mostly affects the elderly, and the vaccine hasn't been around all that long, so it isn't clear what the effect will be in old age. There is a shingles vaccine (similar to the chicken pox vaccine) that is recommended for the elderly. Personally, I'd get the shingles vaccine as a safeguard even if I had gotten the chicken pox vaccine. Shingles is pretty terrible.

Studies are also ongoing to determine whether adults who got the chicken pox vaccine as children will eventually need a booster.

frankly it freaks me out to force his immune system to fight that many different, varied things at once.

His immune system isn't "fighting" much of anything. Many vaccines use just a virus fragment, basically the small part of the virus that the immune system learns to recognize, or a toxoid, which is the same idea except for a toxic byproduct of a bacterial infection. Some vaccines use a live, attenuated virus that is no longer virulent. In these cases, especially the first two, there's really nothing to fight.

The only straight-up "live virus that causes an actual infection that the immune system must then fight" vaccine that I can think of is the smallpox vaccine, which isn't routinely given anymore, unless you're in the military.
posted by jedicus at 12:45 PM on November 7, 2011 [15 favorites]


anastasiav, I'll admit I'm not educated enough or personally invested enough to have a dog in this fight, but I will say that a lot of the people who shy away from vaccines haven't seemed to express themselves and their concerns with anywhere near as much clarity, so I would be surprised if you get the ire you're bracing yourself for (and if you do, I'll probably think the people who sling it at you are doody-heads).
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:46 PM on November 7, 2011 [4 favorites]


Sometimes an idea is so negligently stupid that it cannot be differentiated from evil.

Deliberately infecting children with chicken pox via the mail is one of them. If even one kid/ chicken-pox naive adult dies, I hope there will be criminal proceedings.
posted by Renoroc at 12:49 PM on November 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


anastasiav, you are vaccinating your child close to the proscribed schedule. It's worlds away from people purposefully not vaccinating their kids for shit like measles and whooping cough.
posted by Foam Pants at 12:49 PM on November 7, 2011 [4 favorites]


beau jackson: "On the page, parents post where they live and ask if anyone with a child who has the chicken pox would be willing to send saliva, infected lollipops or clothing through the mail.

So. Fucking. Gross.

I am really astounded by the hysteria about vaccines, or at least shocked that people who think that vaccines are unsafe will give their kid a rag that's been spat on by some unknown sick kid.
"

Or lollipops. Hel-lo, refined sugar?!?
posted by Deathalicious at 12:51 PM on November 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


When I was a kid (late 50's, early 60's) we had pox parties, and also mumps parties for little boys and measles parties for little girls. There were no better options then -- there were no vax available, and the idea was that it was better to get it when you were young and there were fewer complications. BUT, and it is a big but, these were not strangers. These were the same kids we went to school with and played with on the playgrounds, so we had been somewhat exposed anyway. AND, you didn't have a party unless the doctor said it was OK -- which meant that you knew what the kids were exposed to and that there wasn't something else going on. There was emphatically no spit exchanged, just close contact playing together.

It wasn't perfect. Sometimes you didn't get the disease. Sometimes there were complications. But it was considered to be the best option at the time. That time was half a century ago. As soon as there were better options available, we snapped them up. My little sister never had the mumps or the measles, she was vaxed. If there had been a vax for chicken pox, we would have had it.

If these parents are ready for the 21st century, they should at least move into the latter part of the 20th, already.
posted by pbrim at 12:51 PM on November 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


Chicken Pox is a highly contagious disease, which becomes infectious at least 72-48 hours prior to the advent of external symptoms. So a child who has been exposed may also be exposing other people for days before they are brought to the doctor and/or quarantined.

Ironmouth: " And you are making it more likely that others, especially adults, will be affected by the disease."

I have two friends who are currently immune compromised. One is currently undergoing chemotherapy, the other has leukemia. A third friend with cancer who was also immune compromised passed away recently. If they get chicken pox it would likely kill them, because their bodies would not be able to fight the varicella virus off.

Those parents are literally endangering people's lives with their deliberate negligence. Anyone who comes in contact with them, their child and possibly even their mail carrier is being put at risk. Unconscionable.
posted by zarq at 12:52 PM on November 7, 2011 [10 favorites]


I got chicken pox in January, and so did Mrs Comfy, after our son got it at Xmas. I am 45 and it was BLEEDIN' HORRIBLE. I had no idea there was a vaccine till my friend in New York mentioned it. Seems a bit bonkers we don't do it in the UK.
posted by ComfySofa at 12:52 PM on November 7, 2011


Or lollipops. Hel-lo, refined sugar?!?

Nah honey
posted by pianomover at 12:53 PM on November 7, 2011


"Two people on the Facebook page were looking for measles, mumps, and rubella."

Wait wait wait - so you're telling me you want ALL of the protection that, say, A VACCINE provides, but you'd rather risk your children developing encephalopathy, developing hearing impairments, becoming sterile (males, at least), or, oh, DYING to get it? How on earth could the MMR vaccine be riskier than actually getting those 3 diseases? This is mind-boggling.
posted by pecanpies at 12:53 PM on November 7, 2011 [9 favorites]


For the love of God 21st Century if you keep doing this we're going to hit Peak Freak Out in five years.
Peak Freak Out is a liberal myth. If we run out of our typical sources of freak out, we will no doubt find sufficient abiogenic freak out to make up for the loss.
posted by Flunkie at 12:54 PM on November 7, 2011 [11 favorites]


Agreed that chicken pox as an adult is not fun. I had it my senior year in high school, and it was beyond horrid. The sudden-onset nausea alone ruined my favorite deep-dish pizza place -- that's where I was when it hit, and I couldn't go back for years and years without wanting to puke at the mere scent of that pizza. I was probably lucky, too... as ColdChef points out, this disease can be close to fatal in adults.

As for "pox parties": yes, this is fine, and used to happen all the time. But no, it doesn't make much sense compared to just getting the vaccine... and getting disease-laden lollipops through the mail in sandwich baggies from some random person on facebook is beyond the pale. I cannot understand how anyone can look at that on the one hand and a vaccine on the other, and choose in favor of exposing their child to whatever diseases someone happens to send them in the mail.

on preview: anastasiav, the safety and efficacy of giving multiple vaccines has been long established. As jedicus points out, most vaccines don't involve injecting live pathogens at all... and if you think about it, your kids are exposed to small amounts of more than 16 different live pathogens just by going to school or day care. A normal immune system is more than capable of handling it.
posted by vorfeed at 12:56 PM on November 7, 2011 [9 favorites]


What's worse is that the creep has Hep-C.

House made this error the other day too; your pedo should have Hep-B. Hep-C is blood-to-blood only. Of course you can get a vaccine for Hep-B.
posted by nomisxid at 12:56 PM on November 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


anastasiav: " However, at my son's five year check up he was scheduled to be vax'd for a total of thirteen different diseases. Thirteen. I don't consider myself anti-vax by a longshot, but I have to confess that gave me pause. I'm well aware of the way that vaccination works, and the basics of how the immune system works, and it just ... well, frankly it freaks me out to force his immune system to fight that many different, varied things at once. "

My pediatrician schedules more appointments per year, and spaces out the vaccinations at longer intervals. This allows my kids to build immunity without being hit with everything at once. It was a reassuring way (for me) of easing them into vaccines when they were in their first year, since they were preemies.

They're only three at the moment. I do not know if this is remains an option for school-aged children, who may need to meet specific vaccination requirements to be allowed to attend. But if this is a concern for you, perhaps that option might be available to you for your son?
posted by zarq at 12:56 PM on November 7, 2011 [2 favorites]




I suspect one's body fights more than thirteen different viruses and bacteria every day.

The body our DNA creates is as much a scaffolding for colonization by non-human life forms, as it is a human.

In fact, a biologically pure human wouldn't live at all long. We need those infectious agents. Hell, we even need the bad infectious agents, because without prey, our immune system will start attacking our human cells and beneficial helpers.
posted by five fresh fish at 12:58 PM on November 7, 2011 [4 favorites]




Oh, and since they're not being seen for a full checkup, they're usually in and out, and we're not charged for the vaccination visit.

I suppose that if they were to develop symptoms or a reaction, we'd probably be subsequently charged.
posted by zarq at 12:58 PM on November 7, 2011


I seriously don't know which firmly established bit of science we're going to just up and abandon next. Any day now I expect cars to have triangular wheels because circles are a conspiracy of elite egghead scientists.
posted by Legomancer at 12:58 PM on November 7, 2011 [21 favorites]


Synchronicity. Yesterday I was reading this novel in which parents hold what one young child calls a chicken party. The kids pass their lollipops and cups around, to the main character's dismay. Or maybe it wasn't lollipops, whatever, I skipped over it quickly because it bothered me too.
posted by mareli at 12:58 PM on November 7, 2011


I don't think it's reasonable to lump the mailing-germs-through-the-post crowd with those of us who would just prefer to space things out a little

anastasiav, that was not the intent behind that comment. I was referring more to the pox parties people, not the insane virus-through-the-mail people. FWIW, I do not equate those crazy people with all delayed vaxers. I do, however, equate them with people who delay their kids' vaccinations because they distrust Big Pharma, modern Western medicine, and the entire premise behind child immunizations.

There is so much misinformation out there about vaccines -- how they work, what they do to a child's body, what side-effects are possible -- and most of that misinformation is shared between both the hard-core anti-vaxers (who include the crazy mail-virus people) and that subset of delayed-vaxers such that, at least as far as public perception is concerned, they are basically equivalent. When people say that they support delayed vaccination because they want to know exactly which vaccine caused that problem in my kid, they give credence to a whole host of whackadoo, scientifically disproven ideas about what problems vaccines can cause in kids.

I've known plenty of people who have delayed their kids' vaccinations for totally reasonable and well-researched reasons. But the problem is that there are too many other people delaying vaccinations because they just don't trust vaccinations. In my mind, those people are just as crazy as the virus-through-the-mail people, even if they're not doing anything illegal.
posted by devinemissk at 1:00 PM on November 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


Child of the 70s here. My parents did the pox party for me. Then for my younger brother. Then for my younger sister. I got infected each time. Some very small percentage of people don't develop the antibodies well.

Chicken pox fun fact: with each succeeding infection, it get worse. It's been at least 30 years since my last outbreak but I still have some scarring on my arms and legs.

I have no idea why anyone would do this to their children when there is a vaccine available. Also, I'm not certain whether my lack of recent infection is due to not being exposed since I was a wee lad or whether I finally developed the antibodies. But thanks for putting folks like me in unnecessary danger, assholes.
posted by Fezboy! at 1:00 PM on November 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


You know, you could prevent yourself by ever getting shot by having "bullet" parties too, but that also seems like a horrible idea.
posted by BigHeartedGuy at 1:01 PM on November 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


I remember the time I had to ship some staph toxin standards. These were very low concentration, of course because we wanted to validate our assay at very low levels. Still if you took all 10 samples I was shipping, mixed them together and drank them you might develop food poisoning symptoms. This was just protein mind you, no live cells. From the paperwork I had to fill out, you'd think I was shipping a pound of plutonium and Osama Bin Laden in the same box!

These clowns are shipping infectious materials in a bag rated for peanut butter and jelly sandwich containment in an unmarked box because they don't trust the big evil pharmaceutical companies.

Until the dogpile becomes massive enough to rip a hole in the space time continuum, it can't compete with the irony in this story.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 1:02 PM on November 7, 2011 [15 favorites]


>I never had chicken pox. I'm now 30 years old, and have been trying to keep up on literature about the vaccination, as I really do not want to have it. Do you know what I really do not want? Shingles. The funny thing is that you get shingles as an adult as a resurgence of the chicken pox virus that is resident, but dormant, in your body. There is a separate shingles vaccine for those individuals over 60, but it's believed that the chicken pox vaccine (and having not had chicken pox) should protect you.

Mikeh, may I ask why you don't want the vaccine? If you were to get the pox at your age, chances are it would be a serious illness; my brother skated by without catching chicken pox until high school and even then he was old enough to suffer pretty seriously.

(Myself, I've gotten the vaccine -- twice, by accident. I thought this took care of me but your comments make me wonder if you know something I don't. If so, please share!)
posted by artemisia at 1:03 PM on November 7, 2011


Mikeh -- oh wait, perhaps I misunderstood what you wrote ("do not want to have it" actually refers to the pox, not the vaccine, yes?). Anyway, I'm still interested to hear if your close tracking of news about the vaccine has turned up any disturbing info about its (lack of) effectiveness.
posted by artemisia at 1:04 PM on November 7, 2011


artemisia, I'm pretty sure the "it" at the end of the sentence referred to chicken pox, not the vaccine.
posted by brainmouse at 1:04 PM on November 7, 2011


Apparently there's now talk about how the rabies vaccine can cause autism.

No no no no.
posted by bq at 1:08 PM on November 7, 2011


> The science based community

Don't ever say that. That's not how you address the group of people who have reasonable trust in technology and progress through human inquiry. That's the language of Fox News commentators, Republican spin doctors, and their lackeys.

The proper term is "intelligent people". Its antithesis is "idiots".
posted by ardgedee at 1:09 PM on November 7, 2011 [20 favorites]


I never had chicken pox. I'm now 30 years old, and have been trying to keep up on literature about the vaccination, as I really do not want to have it. Do you know what I really do not want? Shingles.


I had chicken pox (apparently, I don't remember it), and I got shingles when I was freaking 14. Wth?
posted by trogdole at 1:11 PM on November 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


anastasiav, you are vaccinating your child close to the proscribed schedule. It's worlds away from people purposefully not vaccinating their kids for shit like measles and whooping cough.

Oh? See longdaysjourney's comment about his sister, who he clearly has lumped in with the anti-vax crowd for simply for delaying the the full panel. ("succumbed to this variant of crazy") It's apparently impossible to have a conversation about the downsides of vaccinations (and there are some - we know a child who is permanently disabled as the result of a high fever that was a vax reaction ... and they are not sure, to this day, which of the three injections he got that day caused it).

zarq, that's what I would prefer to do, but in order to do so we would be charged for each office visit, as our insurance only allows for one "well-child" visit per year. So I am axing on the prescribed schedule. But if I had any sort of a choice at all in the matter, I would space them out.

and if you think about it, your kids are exposed to small amounts of more than 16 different live pathogens just by going to school or day care. A normal immune system is more than capable of handling it.

I am aware of that. I'm also (painfully) aware that, although rare, adverse reactions do happen. And it feels like we're adding on more and more things each year (pillory if you want, but I do turn down the 'flu vax). And the more things that are added, the more complex the interactions become.

And no, I don't trust big pharma. I don't think that makes me at all unusual.

The proper term is "intelligent people". Its antithesis is "idiots".

That doesn't help anyone you know. You're not going to convince anyone to vax their child by calling them an idiot. In fact, they're more likely to just stop listening to you. Treating their fears with respect will get you a lot farther than name calling.
posted by anastasiav at 1:11 PM on November 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Who dares confront the parents of the Bay Area Waldorf School with the 23% vaccination rate?

From a comment on that piece:
When your child screams for four hours straight because their brain is swelling and then has sensory disorders and temper tantrums for years after vaccinating them, I think you would change your tune about vaccinations. I have done my research, a child who is vaccinated is not getting true immunities from anything. They are just being injected with toxins. When the industry starts doing research into the level of toxins and the brain in their lab mice and can tell me it does not do harm, then I would consider it. But the level of toxins they are injecting into babies these days is just unethical. It's all about money plain and simple. The vaccination industry is making millions of dollars off all the gullible people out there who have not done their research.
(emphasis mine)

In what way does one treat this person's fears with respect?

Public health systems have gotten so good over the decades (in the U.S.) that we've completely forgotten what it was like when kids died - not occasionally, but in droves, practically, from diseases that are now uncommon or nonexistent. Who knew that keeping kids from dying from diseases had a downside as nutty as this?
posted by rtha at 1:20 PM on November 7, 2011 [32 favorites]


"Two people on the Facebook page were looking for measles, mumps, and rubella."

These people have clearly never seen (or been) a child with measles. Measles swept through the Australian country town I grew up in only a few months before I was scheduled to be vaccinated. The doctor was actually really pleased that I had measles, because he had first thought that I had SCARLET-FUCKING-FEVER. This was the mid 1980's (even though it sounds more like a plot line from Little Women). I will never forget lying in bed for two weeks, in a darkened room, because any light was just too much. All the kids in the town my age and younger got it - one of my friends almost died and wore extremely strong glasses afterwards because it had damaged her eyes (this sounds like a plot line from the "Little House on the Prairie").

Measles... just so SO terrible.
posted by Alice Russel-Wallace at 1:20 PM on November 7, 2011 [9 favorites]


Ugh. This is crazy. I got chicken pox in grade 12 . . . . it was horrific, painful, and I've got all sorts of scars. Both my kids were vaccinated as soon as possible. Why the hell would I want my kids to suffer through a disease I wouldn't want to have? I care for them way too much for that. Sheesh.
posted by fimbulvetr at 1:22 PM on November 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


As one friend said, you know, there's a reason people never had polio parties ...
posted by k5.user at 1:24 PM on November 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


One important lesson to draw from all this: if you are a nutjob looking to distribute lethal toxins through the community as a way to draw attention to your case, well, you just found the easiest group of victims you'll ever run across and they've conveniently identified themselves for you.
posted by aramaic at 1:25 PM on November 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


In what way does one treat this person's fears with respect?....

....By remembering that at its core, the cause of this person's fear is coming from the sentence right before the one you bolded:
When your child screams for four hours straight because their brain is swelling and then has sensory disorders and temper tantrums for years after vaccinating them, I think you would change your tune about vaccinations.
They are most likely completely wrong about vaccines being the cause of what happened. But I doubt that any parent who heard their kid screaming for 4 straight hours because their brain was swelling would stop at ANYTHING to prevent it from happening to them again.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:25 PM on November 7, 2011 [4 favorites]


anastasiav: http://healthland.time.com/2011/09/16/cdc-115-kids-died-of-flu-last-season-most-werent-vaccinated/

115 persons under 18--and they suspect that's an underestimate. Adverse consequences from getting the vaccine? Soreness, aches, fever, gone in a couple of days. "Rare" serious events? Hell of a lot less than 115 kids/year, as far as I can tell.

No pillory, just facts. Will that convince you to get the flu vaccine for your offspring?
posted by stevis23 at 1:25 PM on November 7, 2011


That's not to say that "pox parties" and stuff going through the mail is a valid RESPONSE to that fear, though. That's just nuts.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:26 PM on November 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


I got Chicken Pox at age 20 (the vaccine came out a few years later) and was miserable. Scarring, pain, the itchiness, sores on all my mucous membranes and on my tongue and scalp, continuous feeling of wanting to throw up. It was worse than the worst sunburns I've ever had. It interrupted my education to the tune of about 2 weeks. I had a very hard time -- but I had it easy compared to my ~80 year old grandfather who suffered debilitating pain from shingles off and on in the final decade of his life. Pure misery -- he was prescribed morphine drops the pain was so intense. This was a stoic, fit 80something man who had been through WWII and Korea. Shingles were the worst to him.

I wish both of us had had access to the vaccine when we were younger.

The impulse of these people to get their kids immunity is positive -- they need to be educated though, about the fact that vaccines work, this homegrown technique comes with risks you're putting on lots of other people, and the efficacy is dubious at the best. Vaccines are the road to eradication of infectious disease. Pox parties are not.
posted by artlung at 1:27 PM on November 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


Will that convince you to get the flu vaccine for your offspring?

I personally had a very severe adverse reaction to the 'flu vaccine, not once, but twice. Much more than what you're describing. As my child shares a lot of my allergic reactions (including my allergy to iodine) I'm willing to take the risk.
posted by anastasiav at 1:27 PM on November 7, 2011


115 persons under 18--and they suspect that's an underestimate. Adverse consequences from getting the vaccine? Soreness, aches, fever, gone in a couple of days. "Rare" serious events? Hell of a lot less than 115 kids/year, as far as I can tell. No pillory, just facts. Will that convince you to get the flu vaccine for your offspring?

....I've never gotten a flu vaccine, and I've also never gotten the flu.

Just for the record, and just to point out that people who don't get the vaccine aren't entirely nuts. (I even talked to my doctor about that and everything. The general concensus was "well, it wouldn't HURT if you got it, but....you also do seem to be unusually lucky, so...huh. Flip a coin or something, I guess.")
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:28 PM on November 7, 2011


It's so strange, that people would equate even the least-credible sort of manufactured "controversy" (e.g., vaccines cause autism-type claims, now widely refuted) with well-informed disagreement. As if it's the case that when anyone disagrees or calls something into question, its truth and validity are automatically in doubt. It's this kind of thinking that paralyzes Americans into failing to think critically, engenders the mad popularity of infuriatingly ubiquitous locutions like "the truth, as always, is somewhere in the middle" and raises the likelihood of people making stupid decisions and assumptions about all kinds of things (global warming, for one).

It's deliberately and constantly pushed by lobbies and news media, it makes people exceptionally easily led, it makes it possible to muddy the waters on just about any issue and thereby obscure what is patently true. It's insane, and our nation is suffering because of it, and this is just one more example. Although this also illustrates the abysmal state of science education here, so hey, twofer.
posted by clockzero at 1:30 PM on November 7, 2011 [7 favorites]


....I've never gotten a flu vaccine, and I've also never gotten the flu.

I could have said the same until last week, when I got my first flu shot...because I'm 37 weeks pregnant. The flu vaccine is its own special animal, I think, because it is based on the best guess of the medical community as to which flu variant(s) are likely to be prevalent in a given year. But knowing that the flu is SO dangerous for newborn infants, and knowing that mine won't be able to get a flu shot during flu season was enough to make me suck it up and get the damn thing.
posted by devinemissk at 1:32 PM on November 7, 2011


Perhaps the loony-based community could be convinced to consider Russian Roulette parties to bulletproof their children.
posted by Wolfdog at 1:33 PM on November 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


I could have said the same until last week, when I got my first flu shot...because I'm 37 weeks pregnant.

Oh, no, I definitely understand the risk when it comes to being around infants, lest you expose them. I talked to my doctor about that; the only infant I'm likely to encounter in the near future is my new nephew, whom I will probably get to hold for only about 3.68 seconds before he starts crying and I have to give him off to his mom again (babies seem to prefer watching me from a distance for some reason). So my doctor said that I could get away with it (although getting the vaccine for their sake would be a tiny bit better).
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:36 PM on November 7, 2011


anastasiav: " zarq, that's what I would prefer to do, but in order to do so we would be charged for each office visit, as our insurance only allows for one "well-child" visit per year. So I am axing on the prescribed schedule. But if I had any sort of a choice at all in the matter, I would space them out. "

I'm sorry.

We were lucky to find an extraordinary pediatrician who has bent over backwards to accommodate our nervousness. The spaced-out vaccination schedule during the first year was actually her idea -- she apparently does that with all her preemie patients. When the kids' first year checkup came around, she gave us the option of continuing the same pattern and we gladly took it. I do not know if there is a scientific basis for spacing them out, but I'm glad we can do it that way.

stevis23: " No pillory, just facts. Will that convince you to get the flu vaccine for your offspring?"

No pillory? You're showing her an article and implying that her kid is a lot more likely to die from the flu if not given a shot. When in fact considering how many children get the shot every year that outcome is incredibly rare.

Let's try to keep a reasonable perspective, shall we?

Clyde Mnestra once made a comment that I wish I could favorite again and again: "Parental guilt is almost bottomless. Be wary of adding to the latter without being mindful of the former."
posted by zarq at 1:36 PM on November 7, 2011 [5 favorites]


It's apparently impossible to have a conversation about the downsides of vaccinations (and there are some - we know a child who is permanently disabled as the result of a high fever that was a vax reaction ... and they are not sure, to this day, which of the three injections he got that day caused it).

That's because we already had the conversation over the past hundred years or so. The evidence is incontrovertible at this point: the benefits of vaccination vastly, vastly outweigh the costs both at the individual and societal levels.

And it feels like we're adding on more and more things each year (pillory if you want, but I do turn down the 'flu vax)

The flu vaccine is not new at all. And I will indeed pillory you for refusing to get a flu vaccination. The flu is not some sore-throat-and-fever-done-in-24-hours illness. It's a serious disease that kills 3,000-49,000 people every year in the United States alone. Someone very close to me is immunocompromised; if she got the flu it could easily kill her. By not getting a flu vaccination, you are contributing to the deaths of thousands of people, many of whom cannot defend themselves from the consequences of your selfish decision. Willful refusal to get the flu vaccine is borderline sociopathic, in my opinion.

If you indeed have a reaction to the flu vaccine, then that's different, but I frankly don't believe your reactions had anything to do with the vaccine because you also claim to be allergic to iodine, which is a nonexistent "allergy." See also this study or this Q&A.
posted by jedicus at 1:39 PM on November 7, 2011 [16 favorites]


Clyde Mnestra once made a comment that I wish I could favorite again and again: "Parental guilt is almost bottomless. Be wary of adding to the latter without being mindful of the former."

Needs more favorites.
posted by sweetkid at 1:41 PM on November 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Since all vaccine doses pay a small amount into the vaccine injury fund (which pays out when individuals are injured by vaccines), I would like there to be a NON-vaccine injury fund that parents who choose NOT to vaccinate must pay into to compensate all families whose children are infected. Because those who choose NOT to vaccinate are causing predictable, measurable risks to others, and we can put a dollar value on that. And when six babies die from a measles outbreak in California caused by non-vaccinating parents, the cost of choosing not to vaccinate skyrockets.

Families who vaccinate literally pay to cover the social costs of the very few people injured by vaccines. Families who choose not to vaccinate should similarly pay to cover the social costs of the people THEY injure. (Medical exemptions excluded from this scheme.) They should not be allowed to externalize these costs. When it costs $10,000 to skip an MMR vaccine, and they are paying the actual real MONETARY cost of their actions (if not the emotional cost to a family who lost a child to a preventable disease), then the system will be fair. But for now they're externalizing their risk onto other families, who do vaccinate, and they're externalizing the cost of their actions. It distorts the market price of stupidity, which in this case is quite expensive.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 1:42 PM on November 7, 2011 [50 favorites]


....By remembering that at its core, the cause of this person's fear is coming from the sentence right before the one you bolded:

I get the process that goes "My kid got horribly sick from a vaccine, so I'm going to be hella careful about vaccination." I do not get, at all, the "My kid got horribly sick from a vaccine, THEY'RE NOTHING BUT TOXINS THAT DO NO GOOD AT ALL."

I've been in and around public health stuff for yoinks, and I absolutely know that shaming people to make them healthier doesn't work. But neither does attempting to rationally address views like the one in the comment, because that view? Irrational. Utterly. So what do we do?

I read a piece recently about a vaccination campaign in a West African country that had been derailed some years back because of conspiracy rumor-mongering, but that recently got back on track and people are bringing their kids in for vaccinations. I wish I could find it, because it talk about what social techniques were used to get the system working again. We could apparently use it here.
posted by rtha at 1:44 PM on November 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


Coming from a country that for some reason doesn't vaccinate against chicken pox, I can attest that it's no big deal. They all get it in creche at some point, and that's it over with.

The year that I got chicken pox, a girl in my school died from it. I know that's rare, but it's not always "no big deal."
posted by not that girl at 1:44 PM on November 7, 2011


Oh, no, I definitely understand the risk when it comes to being around infants, lest you expose them. I talked to my doctor about that; the only infant I'm likely to encounter in the near future is my new nephew, whom I will probably get to hold for only about 3.68 seconds before he starts crying and I have to give him off to his mom again (babies seem to prefer watching me from a distance for some reason). So my doctor said that I could get away with it (although getting the vaccine for their sake would be a tiny bit better).

And what about the infants, pregnant women, elderly people, and immunocompromised folks who sit next to you on the subway? Or shake hands with you? Or happen to be walking past when you sneeze? Or who use or touch a grocery cart, door knob, or other common surface after you do? Or clean up after you in a restaurant?

And yes it's only a "tiny bit better" statistically, but if everybody followed your logic then the flu would kill tens of thousands of more people every year, hundreds of thousands or millions in pandemic years. Do the right thing and get the flu vaccination. You'll be helping to save lives, possibly even your own.

....I've never gotten a flu vaccine, and I've also never gotten the flu.

In large part your recklessness hasn't harmed you directly because other people are responsible enough to get vaccinated. If everyone followed your example, tens of thousands of people would die needlessly every year.
posted by jedicus at 1:48 PM on November 7, 2011 [7 favorites]


I get the process that goes "My kid got horribly sick from a vaccine, so I'm going to be hella careful about vaccination." I do not get, at all, the "My kid got horribly sick from a vaccine, THEY'RE NOTHING BUT TOXINS THAT DO NO GOOD AT ALL."

No, I agree with you on where they jumped TO being crazy. I just think it's important to have a bit of compassion for what caused them TO jump in the first place, so you can address that fear rather than just saying "y'all just crazypants, yo."
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:49 PM on November 7, 2011 [4 favorites]


And what about the infants, pregnant women, elderly people, and immunocompromised folks who sit next to you on the subway? Or shake hands with you? Or happen to be walking past when you sneeze? Or who use or touch a grocery cart, door knob, or other common surface after you do? Or clean up after you in a restaurant?

I'm going to point again to the part where I said I talked to my doctor about this. That was one of the things I talked to my doctor about. If she had given me any strong indication of concern for my wellbeing, the wellbeing of my family, or the wellbeing of strangers, I would have gotten the vaccine. She did not.

And until you start working with my doctor, I'm going to politely say that what my doctor advised me to do is not your affair to pass judgement on.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:52 PM on November 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


oh.. Wow. Realy want rhis to be a massive hoax,otherwise .. the Stupid. It *BURNS*
posted by Faintdreams at 1:54 PM on November 7, 2011


Well since are showing ours in response to seeing yours - I had typhoid TWICE in 1973

I'll see you that and raise you scarlet fever, twice, in the 70s. NOT recommended.
posted by hardcode at 1:54 PM on November 7, 2011


The only straight-up "live virus that causes an actual infection that the immune system must then fight" vaccine that I can think of is the smallpox vaccine,

I month ago I received a tetanus/diphtheria inoculation that caused my arm to be painfully swollen for a few days so there is an immune reaction . I am sure that quite a few other vaccines also cause immune system reactions along with inflammation.
posted by Poet_Lariat at 1:55 PM on November 7, 2011


> Well since are showing ours in response to seeing yours - I had typhoid TWICE in 1973

I'll see you that and raise you scarlet fever, twice, in the 70s.


My boss's kid got scarlet fever in the '90's.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:57 PM on November 7, 2011


Or lollipops. Hel-lo, refined sugar?!?

Nah honey


Sure, sweetheart.
posted by grubi at 1:58 PM on November 7, 2011


I've never understood the situation with the flu vaccine. I've both had doctors tell me I should be vaccinated every year for the public good and had doctors tell me that I should definitely not be vaccinated unless I have a specific reason to be. Is this just because supplies are short some years?
posted by joegester at 1:58 PM on November 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


The biggest thing I am getting out of this thread: I am now terrified of getting shingles.

It's funny - I don't remember having chicken pox. I had it at quite a young age, I think before I was even in kindergarten. However, I do remember being in the pediatrician's office a couple years earlier, reading an article that was posted on the wall. I was quite shocked to learn that chicken pox could actually be life-threatening in rare cases, and also to learn that there was going to be a vaccine! I was really jealous of those kids younger who were going to get a vaccine and skip chicken pox. I remember that feeling very well. So, though I don't remember chicken pox, I remember remembering it, and apparently I remembered it sucking big time.

I can still see that cabinet and that clipped-out article taped to it. It's weird how vividly I recall it. Finding out that a chicken pox vaccine was possible absolutely blew my tiny mind.

I think it really was a moment of wonder for me: suddenly learning that the world isn't static, that progress is happening all around, that something that felt was timeless as suffering through chicken pox could be cured and eradicated after all. It's sad to me that some people see only malice, conspiracy, and harm in this, instead of wonder and progress.
posted by mandanza at 1:58 PM on November 7, 2011 [5 favorites]


Thank God for Facebook. It really does make it a lot easier to keep track of the crazy.
posted by ValkoSipuliSuola at 1:58 PM on November 7, 2011 [2 favorites]



As a rule, I usually get a bit sick from vaccines. I got sick as a kid, I got sick again, when in order to attend grad school I had to be RE vaccinated for "childhood" diseases because heads up 1962-1969 cohort, the vaccines DON'T last a lifetime. Neither did our Smallpox vaccine, but hey, can't have everything.

I get sick from my annual flu shot. Feel a bit woozy for a day or so.

My point is that I still get vaccinated.

My uncle died from shingles. Varicella isn't funny, it's deadly. I knew someone who as a child, gave her father Chicken Pox and he died.

So mailing a deadly virus through the mail isn't all giggles and grins, it can actually kill someone.

Also, all you people who choose not to vaccinate your kids, you do realize that you represent a threat to children too young to be vaccinated right? Your irrational fear can translate to someone's baby dying of whooping cough or some other 19th century scourge.

We live in a time of scientific miracles. Vaccination, while not perfect, is so much better than any of the diseases we're avoiding. So I'll take my little bit o' the bug once a year, I'll go to bed with my blankie and a glass of grape juice.

Also, did y'all see this?
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 1:59 PM on November 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


No, I agree with you on where they jumped TO being crazy. I just think it's important to have a bit of compassion for what caused them TO jump in the first place, so you can address that fear rather than just saying "y'all just crazypants, yo."

Nobody lacks compassion for the rare child who is actually harmed by vaccines. It's a damned shame, especially since kids are so very young when they're vaccinated. But then, nobody goes around ranting about how eggs or peanuts are "just toxins" given a rare allergic reaction to them, nor do you see many people railing against car seats, swimming lessons, or other things which almost always help but very occasionally harm.

The lack of compassion for anti-vax crusaders comes directly from their own actions. It's a sorry thing when a child gets hurt, but that's not an excuse to spread lies, especially lies which are likely to hurt other children.
posted by vorfeed at 2:04 PM on November 7, 2011 [5 favorites]


I'm going to point again to the part where I said I talked to my doctor about this.

Ah, well, if a doctor said it was okay then obviously it's fine. All doctors are always right, you know, and their wisdom shouldn't be questioned. If a different doctor told you that you should get vaccinated, how would you solve the contradiction? How about the doctors at the CDC? Or the NYC Department of Health? They recommend vaccination for "all people aged 6 months and older" unless they fall under specific, narrow exceptions, and you have not indicated that you do.

And until you start working with my doctor, I'm going to politely say that what my doctor advised me to do is not your affair to pass judgement on.

Okay, give me your doctor's contact information and send me a HIPAA disclosure consent form, and I'll happily start working to figure out why your doctor thinks someone who is eligible for the flu vaccine shouldn't get it, contrary to fundamental tenets of epidemiology and the recommendation of experts in the field.

I month ago I received a tetanus/diphtheria inoculation that caused my arm to be painfully swollen for a few days so there is an immune reaction

They cause an immune system reaction, yes, that's necessarily the case, and they can also cause other side effects. But most vaccines don't cause an infection that must be fought off, and they can't because there's nothing in the vaccine capable of causing an infection. (Okay technically the injection site could become an infected, but that's a secondary thing).
posted by jedicus at 2:05 PM on November 7, 2011 [10 favorites]


I've both had doctors tell me I should be vaccinated every year for the public good and had doctors tell me that I should definitely not be vaccinated unless I have a specific reason to be. Is this just because supplies are short some years?

The expert consensus is now solidly in favor of universal vaccination, every year, except for people who fall under specific, narrow exceptions (listed under "who should not be vaccinated"):
A panel of immunization experts voted today (February 24, 2010) to expand the recommendation for annual influenza vaccination to include all people aged 6 months and older. The expanded recommendation is to take effect in the 2010 – 2011 influenza season. The new recommendation seeks to remove barriers to influenza immunization and signals the importance of preventing influenza across the entire population.
posted by jedicus at 2:09 PM on November 7, 2011 [4 favorites]


I got sick as a kid, I got sick again, when in order to attend grad school I had to be RE vaccinated for "childhood" diseases because heads up 1962-1969 cohort, the vaccines DON'T last a lifetime.

Surely though this leads to a difficult decision about group immunity. If a virus can be completely wiped out, then it's a definite good. But if vaccination from a virus only lasts so long, it can be impossible to know who is and who is not currently immune. When a generation of people who have been vaccinated reach the age at which they no longer have assured immunity, outbreaks of that disease can and will occur. The alternative route of keeping a virus endemic within a group means that while immunity is never total at any one point in time, it is at least general at all points in time.

I don't know enough about biology to assess whether this is a good argument or not, but I at least understand the logic. It's not an anti–vaccination position by any means, rather an attempt to assess the best outcome for an entire group over whole lifetimes.
posted by Jehan at 2:10 PM on November 7, 2011


Okay, give me your doctor's contact information and send me a HIPAA disclosure consent form

this has crossed over into jerky behavior.
posted by nadawi at 2:12 PM on November 7, 2011 [13 favorites]


Thanks, jedicus
posted by joegester at 2:13 PM on November 7, 2011


I've gotten the flu vaccine every year since it first came out, because both my parents have diabetes, and getting the flu is especially dangerous for diabetics. They're vaccinated too, of course, but I'm still glad to do my part to reduce the risk of exposing them to the disease.

When you think about how common diabetes is these days (25.8 million diabetics and rising, to the tune of over 8% of the population), it's obvious that the vaccine is a good idea for everyone.
posted by vorfeed at 2:17 PM on November 7, 2011


I got the flu after a conference several years ago, I think for the first time since I was a little kid, and it was SO MUCH WORSE than any head cold -- fever, chills, body aches, just went entirely out of my head for about a week...and then mr epersonae got it. :( I don't go out of my way to get the flu vaccine, but when it's offered, I'll always take it.

My high school boyfriend got chicken pox during what was at the time the hottest weather EVER in southern California, and had a crazy high fever. He was later quite vivid in his descriptions of the hallucinations, but apparently it was a very dangerous experience. My boss at the same time was a children's librarian who had never had chicken pox; she was amazing at her job, but always on guard for kids who were sick. I don't think she ever did get it, thankfully.

What I remember of getting it in second grade: missing the class field trip to the LA Children's Museum; being delirious from fever and listening to Anne Murray tape over and over; and my baby sister being all swaddled up when she got it, to keep her from scratching. She still (30-something) has a chicken pox scar in the center of her forehead. Totally wish they'd had a vaccine back then.
posted by epersonae at 2:18 PM on November 7, 2011


jedicus: " If you indeed have a reaction to the flu vaccine, then that's different, but I frankly don't believe your reactions had anything to do with the vaccine because you also claim to be allergic to iodine, which is a nonexistent "allergy." See also this study or this Q&A."

I have a shellfish allergy.

In a space of 19 years, I had four GP's tell me that I was allergic to iodine, and never, ever under any circumstances should i get contrast in certain types of scans. I followed those instructions until last year, when my allergist explained in depth, with corroborating studies, that it wasn't an issue. So I learned something. But for the previous two decades, I had been informed by multiple physicians not to take risks.

Many people, myself included, who have shellfish allergies were told by medical professionals who we trusted that we had an iodine allergy. You might want to keep this in mind.
posted by zarq at 2:20 PM on November 7, 2011 [7 favorites]


jedicus: " Okay, give me your doctor's contact information and send me a HIPAA disclosure consent form, and I'll happily start working to figure out why your doctor thinks someone who is eligible for the flu vaccine shouldn't get it, contrary to fundamental tenets of epidemiology and the recommendation of experts in the field."

If you cannot be civil to other people in this thread, perhaps it is time for you to walk away and take a breather.
posted by zarq at 2:22 PM on November 7, 2011 [6 favorites]


Hearing the horor stories of adult or teen cases of chicken pox, I wanted to spread the word that anti-viral drugs can help a lot. They need to be started within 48 hours of the first pox showing up, if I recall correctly.

My sister had a miserable case of chicken pox as a teenager in the pre-vaccine days of the early 1990s. We didn't know anti-virals were an option until it was too late for her to benefit, but I got started on them right away when I came down with the pox a few days later.

My case was extremely mild - maybe half a dozen pox. Actually felt well enough to spend my days in a "quarantine" room at the highschool doing schoolwork so I'd be eligible to attend play practice after school (drama teacher & the rest of the cast had all already had chicken pox years ago, so not a "pox party").
posted by superna at 2:23 PM on November 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


Peak Freak Out is a liberal myth. If we run out of our typical sources of freak out, we will no doubt find sufficient abiogenic freak out to make up for the loss.

I was into Abiogenic Freak Out a few years ago, back when you probably hadn't heard of them, but they totally sold out and now they're just shilling for big vax.
posted by The Bellman at 2:23 PM on November 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


Surely though this leads to a difficult decision about group immunity. If a virus can be completely wiped out, then it's a definite good. But if vaccination from a virus only lasts so long, it can be impossible to know who is and who is not currently immune. When a generation of people who have been vaccinated reach the age at which they no longer have assured immunity, outbreaks of that disease can and will occur. The alternative route of keeping a virus endemic within a group means that while immunity is never total at any one point in time, it is at least general at all points in time.

What does this even mean? First, booster shots. Second, I don't really get what scenario you're painting. How is some people losing immunity worse than some people never having immunity in the first place?
posted by kmz at 2:25 PM on November 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Oh? See longdaysjourney's comment about his sister, who he clearly has lumped in with the anti-vax crowd for simply for delaying the the full panel. ("succumbed to this variant of crazy")

1.) I'm female and 2.) my sister isn't as crazy as the people who don't vaccinate at all, but given her agreement to delay the full panel (again, I suspect her husband is behind this), yeah, I do think she's succumbed to influence from people who don't know the science behind vaccinations and are raising fears for no reason actually based on fact.

Given that delaying vaccinations has real dangers (in my nephew's case, not only will he not be protected against the diseases being vaccinated against until a date later than would otherwise be normal, he also probably has a slightly elevated chance of being exposed to communicable diseases given the location of his day care (in a large nationally-known children's hospital)), and that there's no scientific basis as yet for suspecting that Aaby's findings will be duplicated in children who do not suffer from malnutrition, I do think her decision to delay is irrational.

Note, I am joined in this belief by my mother, who's been a pediatrician for 47 years and all of my sister's pediatric colleagues without exception. No one can understand why she's delaying. I've asked my sister to send me the papers she's basing her decision to delay on, but she hasn't (I'm actually the one who sent her the Aaby papers since I thought his findings were interesting (this was before she got pregnant), an action I deeply regret now since it apparently gave her unfounded ideas. Absent any further studies in developed countries, I certainly don't think Aaby's work justifies delaying the full panel in children who are not malnourished. She just doesn't want to "stress" my nephew's immune system (her exact words). I just hope he gets through this dangerous unvaccinated period without coming down with something that can kill him.
posted by longdaysjourney at 2:29 PM on November 7, 2011 [4 favorites]


And you don't want to know where a man can get chicken pox scars.

Oh that and the pneumonia that my doctor discovered I'd had when she saw the pox marks on my chest x-ray.

Busy schools and forces kids.

How we made it through the 70's I'll never know, that AND disco!
posted by hardcode at 2:31 PM on November 7, 2011


I don't remember having chicken pox at age 6 months, but I certainly remember having shingles at age 20. I have a HUGE scar on my side from shingles and I had neuralgia for at least FIFTEEN YEARS afterwards (not constant, but occasional.)

(I don't understand why the shingles vaccine is for over 60s only? My husband had shingles in his late 30s.)
posted by vespabelle at 2:33 PM on November 7, 2011


Why am I not surprised that the people participating in this insanity refer to their children as dd or ds in the linked forum?
posted by cilantro at 2:35 PM on November 7, 2011 [5 favorites]


Many people, myself included, who have shellfish allergies were told by medical professionals who we trusted that we had an iodine allergy. You might want to keep this in mind.

Widespread knowledge of the non-existence of a link between iodine, shellfish, and contrast dates back to at least 1997 [pdf]. I thought it reasonable to assume that people wouldn't be getting medical advice over 14 years out of date. I'm sorry you got some bad medical advice over the years.

If you cannot be civil to other people in this thread, perhaps it is time for you to walk away and take a breather.

What's uncivil about that? I would sincerely like to find out how a doctor justifies that kind of apparently reckless advice in the face of overwhelming expert consensus to the contrary. I can't do that if I don't know who the doctor is, and obviously the doctor can't discuss a particular patient without consent. Which of course she's under no obligation to give, nor do I expect her to do so. I certainly apologize if I sounded demanding or forceful.

But without knowing her doctor's rationale, her argument boils down to "someone you don't know and can't talk to said it was okay for reasons I won't tell you and you can't find out." That's not very convincing compared to expert consensus. And I flatly refuse to accept the argument that other people can't offer an opposing viewpoint to a person's doctor, especially if the doctor's reasoning isn't disclosed.
posted by jedicus at 2:38 PM on November 7, 2011 [14 favorites]


What does this even mean? First, booster shots. Second, I don't really get what scenario you're painting. How is some people losing immunity worse than some people never having immunity in the first place?

1) People aren't always aware they need a booster shot, and so a significant part of the group can lose immunity while still believing that they're immune.
2) Having chickenpox when young and being continually exposed helps prevent having it or shingles when fully grown. Thus for chickenpox mass vaccination could lead to a worse outcome overall than leaving it as an endemic disease.
posted by Jehan at 2:45 PM on November 7, 2011


A video from Australia on the consequences of the anti-vax crowd. (Apparently New South Wales has highest percentage of non-vaccinated children in Australia)
posted by pianomover at 2:46 PM on November 7, 2011


she's under no obligation to convince you about her personal medical choices. also, all of your information could have been shared in a sharing sort of way instead of a clubbing with a bat sort of way. if you don't understand how you're being uncivil and downright fighty, you might need a step back.
posted by nadawi at 2:46 PM on November 7, 2011


Having chickenpox when young and being continually exposed helps prevent having it or shingles when fully grown.

Cite?
posted by kmz at 2:50 PM on November 7, 2011


If you cannot be civil to other people in this thread, perhaps it is time for you to walk away and take a breather.

If the house is on fire yell fire.
posted by pianomover at 2:50 PM on November 7, 2011 [5 favorites]


Oh, man. I got chicken pox when I was 5 or 6, and gave 'em to my mom. I have a couple scars, like the one in the middle of my forehead, and my infection was pretty average. My mom was floored by hers. It was awful, and she was probably 36 or so at the time.
posted by sadiehawkinstein at 2:55 PM on November 7, 2011




Widespread knowledge of the non-existence of a link between iodine, shellfish, and contrast dates back to at least 1997 [pdf]. I thought it reasonable to assume that people wouldn't be getting medical advice over 14 years out of date. I'm sorry you got some bad medical advice over the years.

jedicus, are you actually a doctor? Because if not, I find it vastly amusing that you're handing out so much medical advice in this conversation that is in opposition to what our actual doctors are telling us. Like zarq, I have a shellfish allergy, as does my kid. I've been told by a progression of doctors over the years that's it is, at it's core, an iodine allergy. In fact, I have a huge scar on my leg where I had a surface reaction to some antiseptic that they put on my leg prior to surgery following an auto accident. In all my years of seeing doctors, no doctor, ever, has - even in passing - said anything to me that would contradict that. So, while I'll read your link, you'll pardon me if I'll believe what my actual doctors are telling me vs. what some person (oh, I see from your profile that you're an attorney, not a doctor at all) tells me is "the truth" about my health.
posted by anastasiav at 2:58 PM on November 7, 2011


Really?

Oh, sorry, I thought you meant it was more effective than the vaccine.

I guess then the question is: Is actually getting chickenpox better for preventing shingles than getting the vaccine without boosters? If so, then it seems under your scenario we shouldn't be vaccinating against chickenpox at all. I don't really see any advantage to a half and half scenario.
posted by kmz at 3:05 PM on November 7, 2011


she's under no obligation to convince you about her personal medical choices. also, all of your information could have been shared in a sharing sort of way instead of a clubbing with a bat sort of way. if you don't understand how you're being uncivil and downright fighty, you might need a step back.

Seriously? jedicus' comments seem perfectly civil to me. Maybe a bit jokish, but not uncivil. Moreover, the Empress stepped into the HIPAA line when she wrote (with her own snark): "And until you start working with my doctor, ..."

Anyway, I don't know how she doesn't assume an obligation to at least present something resembling actual public evidence for a positive empirical claim made on a public discussion thread. jedicus rightly objects that the "evidence" for the claim is private, so we cannot scrutinize it.

For his part, jedicus backed up his claims with serious, publicly available evidence. I applaud him and recommend others emulate his posts, as they are routinely excellent.
posted by Jonathan Livengood at 3:06 PM on November 7, 2011 [13 favorites]


And I will indeed pillory you for refusing to get a flu vaccination... By not getting a flu vaccination, you are contributing to the deaths of thousands of people, many of whom cannot defend themselves from the consequences of your selfish decision... Willful refusal to get the flu vaccine is borderline sociopathic, in my opinion.

Easy, tiger. "Borderline sociopathic"?

I have never gotten a flu shot. I don't spend a great deal of time with the elderly or infants, and if I'm sick I stay home and keep away from people. I'm mindful of the risk of making other people sick, and if I feel anything "off" I avoid going out and being around others. I have a crippling phobia of needles, it's something I can't help and it causes fairly severe physical symptoms like panic attacks and passing out. Even typing this right now is making me feel nauseous and giving me a headache. It's a totally irrational thing that can't be "gotten over" and it doesn't get better with time or more needles or Ativan or some jerk on the internet handing out guilt trips and calling me a sociopath. I am usually able to work my way up to vaccinations from time to time, usually after several attempts over a period of months. This usually is long enough to have gotten through flu season entirely. Again. 9 times out of 10 without getting the flu. Your position is apparently that I have somehow contributed to thousands of deaths. I'm not aware of a single one. I am aware that the flu vaccine is reasonably effective, but it's not like we're talking about eradicating the flu entirely like smallpox. I try as best I can to get vaccinated. I don't need this shit.
posted by Hoopo at 3:11 PM on November 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


I think panic attacks and passing out are a pretty understandable mitigating factor.
posted by kmz at 3:13 PM on November 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


I repeat in my head "Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity" and ask myself "Why not both?"

Just this week, I saw Errol Morris' documentary Mr. Death for the first time. It's a really fascinating look at this guy who designed execution equipment for a living who was hired by the defense team of a Holocaust denier to "disprove" the use of gas chambers at Auschwitz. And he produces these proofs, all of which are either easily explained by science (because cyanide gas only permeates 10 microns of the surrounding cement, you wouldn't find it concentrated in any wall samples) or by simple history (of course the Nazis destroyed the equipment used to filter air through the chambers, why wouldn't they?).

And, so, yeah, Fred Laughter made some errors that were based, at least at first, on stupidity and not anti-Semitism. In the context in which they were delivered, though, they were hate speech. His continued participation in the Holocaust denial movement, also hate speech.

Where health and safety are involved, particularly on a population-wide level, you have a responsibility to either know your shit or trust the people who do. Arrogantly asserting something does or doesn't happen on the basis of little more than you can't conceive it otherwise? In practice, that's frequently both malicious and stupid.
posted by Apropos of Something at 3:13 PM on November 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


It's a self-correcting problem, generally - these idiots are actively killing off their young, for all intents and purposes.

Ah, yes, that's why we don't have anyone who beats their children to death anymore. That just cleaned itself out the gene pool, right?

Eugenics is about as solid a platform to argue from as vaccine phobia.
posted by yeloson at 3:15 PM on November 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


So.. if you started a rumor that someone with AIDS was sending pox lolly pops around...? No, never-mind that is wrong on too many levels, it is a bad thought and should not be pursued for any number of reasons. But it is not as if the science behind HIV infection would enter into anyone's heads.
posted by edgeways at 3:20 PM on November 7, 2011


jedicus: " Widespread knowledge of the non-existence of a link between iodine, shellfish, and contrast dates back to at least 1997 [pdf]. I thought it reasonable to assume that people wouldn't be getting medical advice over 14 years out of date. I'm sorry you got some bad medical advice over the years."

I am extremely allergic to shellfish. As in anaphylaxis allergic. As in, "he pukes his guts out suddenly, violently until his throat seals up, his blood pressure drops, he faints and then his organs start to shut down" allergic. I have had this reaction twice in my life. I never want to experience it again. I'm too attached to breathing and living.

I'm not entirely sure it was so much "bad medical advice" as each doctor deciding, "better safe than sorry." I had multiple scans over the years, including ones prior to surgery. The shellfish allergy was always mentioned, and no one ever, not the surgeons, gp or radiologists, contradicted it or suggested it might not be an issue. My last surgery was in 2006, and no one at the hospital (the biggest on Long Island, by the way,) said a thing.

"Widespread" or not, it wasn't mentioned.

I imagine that most people my age probably don't have to confront such things for quite a while once they get an initial diagnosis. You're told about it, you file it away and don't worry about it until a doctor sends you for a scan that might require contrast. Which could be many years. And of course, it's not as if I'm in the habit of testing the boundaries of my deadliest allergy.

I am simply suggesting you consider the fact that a lack of knowledge is not a sign that someone is deliberately, willfully ignorant. Please.

But without knowing her doctor's rationale, her argument boils down to "someone you don't know and can't talk to said it was okay for reasons I won't tell you and you can't find out." That's not very convincing compared to expert consensus. And I flatly refuse to accept the argument that other people can't offer an opposing viewpoint to a person's doctor, especially if the doctor's reasoning isn't disclosed.

Since you are not a doctor and admit you are unaware of their rationale, it is inappropriate for you to be declaring to people that their medical practitioners are giving them bad advice when you are ignorant of their medical and family histories and/or preconditions. The flu vaccine contraindicated for some people. People who are immune compromised are often told not to get the vaccine. Those with extreme egg allergies should not be given it. Neither should people who have had GBS, or who are allergic to any of its components.

Have the people you have been talking to in this thread said that they are anti-vaxxers? No. Have they declared their love for chicken pox infected lollipops? Nope. They aren't advocating an anti-vax philosophy to other people reading this thread. So yes, in that context you sounded really, really forceful. And I remind you that I really, really have no love for people who eschew childhood vaccinations.

For what it's worth, my own kids had their flu shot yesterday. They were supposed to get it the previous weekend, but ironically, they had the flu. I am a strong proponent of vaccinations. I even demanded that my pediatrician give our kids the rota vaccine when it was new and unproven. Because I believed it was best for my kids.
posted by zarq at 3:22 PM on November 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


I guess then the question is: Is actually getting chickenpox better for preventing shingles than getting the vaccine without boosters? If so, then it seems under your scenario we shouldn't be vaccinating against chickenpox at all. I don't really see any advantage to a half and half scenario.

Well, some countries don't vaccinate against chickenpox, and only vaccinate at–risk populations for shingles. I'm not knowledgeable enough to know which is the correct course of action overall, but I think that not vaccinating in this case is at least reasonable (in the sense that it has a logical justification). Leaving chickenpox as endemic prevents people suffering worse effects from catching it as an adult, and also avoids the cost and difficulty of vaccinating and revaccinating the whole population.

We should look beyond what vaccines can do, to human nature showing what people actually do. Asking people to come back in midlife to be revaccinated won't be a great success, and the population will be more exposed over time. Having the disease when young is a small price to pay, and so vaccination might be a small immediate gain for a larger long–term loss.
posted by Jehan at 3:24 PM on November 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Since you are not a doctor and admit you are unaware of their rationale, it is inappropriate for you to be declaring to people that their medical practitioners are giving them bad advice when you are ignorant of their medical and family histories and/or preconditions. The flu vaccine contraindicated for some people. People who are immune compromised are often told not to get the vaccine. Those with extreme egg allergies should not be given it. Neither should people who have had GBS, or who are allergic to any of its components.

I didn't really like jedicus's approach either, but to be fair, this was said upthread:

The general concensus was "well, it wouldn't HURT if you got it, but....you also do seem to be unusually lucky, so...huh. Flip a coin or something, I guess.")
posted by kmz at 3:30 PM on November 7, 2011


In all my years of seeing doctors, no doctor, ever, has - even in passing - said anything to me that would contradict that.

And? Did they provide peer-reviewed studies showing that iodine allergy is a real condition? Because without evidence, a doctor's say-so (or worse, their silence) is a meaningless appeal to authority. I, on the other hand, have provided significant evidence that iodine allergy is not a real allergy. It's hard to get any more direct than "CONCLUSIONS: Iodine is not an allergen." Now, people to have allergies to shellfish and reactions to iodine-based antiseptics and contrast agents. Those are very different (although unrelated) things. But people are not allergic to iodine.

I am simply suggesting you consider the fact that a lack of knowledge is not a sign that someone is deliberately, willfully ignorant. Please.

Have I suggested that anywhere? I don't think I have. What I have done is discount the opinions of people whose claims are contradicted by studies and expert consensus. Saying "you [or your doctor] are wrong about X, therefore I choose not to believe your claim about Y, which is related to X" is a far cry from saying "you [or your doctor] are wrong about X, therefore you are deliberately, willfully ignorant about Y."

Since you are not a doctor and admit you are unaware of their rationale, it is inappropriate for you to be declaring to people that their medical practitioners are giving them bad advice when you are ignorant of their medical and family histories and/or preconditions. The flu vaccine contraindicated for some people.

I am well aware of those contraindications. But none of those contraindications were cited by EmpressCallipygos or anastasiav. EmpressCallipygos in particular implied that there was no particular reason for her not to get the vaccine. If I am wrong on that score, then of course they shouldn't get the vaccine. But I'll not retract my statement on the basis of a hypothetical scenario.

So yes, in that context you sounded really, really forceful.

Then you all have my apologies for my tone.

Easy, tiger. "Borderline sociopathic"?

You aren't willfully refusing to get a vaccination. You have difficulty overcoming a serious aversion to needles. That's completely different. I was talking about people are eligible for the vaccine and apparently have no better reason not to get it than "I can't be bothered." I apologize for causing you stress. It was not my intention, and I should have been more clear as to the target of my (apparently inappropriate) anger.
posted by jedicus at 3:40 PM on November 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


kmz: " The general concensus was "well, it wouldn't HURT if you got it, but....you also do seem to be unusually lucky, so...huh. Flip a coin or something, I guess.")"

o.O

I missed that comment. Thanks for pointing it out.

This place should really come with open liquor and recreational drug bars.

posted by zarq at 3:43 PM on November 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


so while we're giving medical advice...

i have asthma and my treatments for asthma and allergies are low dose steroids which suppress my immune system (flonase/flovent) - should i get a flu shot?
posted by nadawi at 3:48 PM on November 7, 2011


When your child screams for four hours straight because their brain is swelling and then has sensory disorders and temper tantrums for years after vaccinating them, I think you would change your tune about vaccinations.

Speaking as someone who had the opportunity to do the whole swollen brain thing as a child (Bacterial meningitis - owe my life to my pediatrician I do) how did she come by this specific diagnosis? I mostly had a nauseous headache and wanted to sleep, despite normally being a hyperactive little terror. The only screaming I did was after the fourth our fifth time they sent the expendable nurse in to jab my butt full of industrial grade antibiotics. Prior to that I was too out of it to notice much.

I mean, did the kid have an MRI or something, just by coincidence, or is this like when your mother puts your hand on your forehead, and tells you you're running a fever, your white count is elevated and your blood electrolytes are low?
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 3:48 PM on November 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


I am an epidemiologist, but the tone of this discussion makes me profoundly happy I am not YOUR epidemiologist, MetaFilter.
Parents, on matters of pediatric vaccinations, I encourage you to spend your research time at CDC's wonderful Parents page. (It's a wonderful page, and wonderful parents look at it.)
Nadawi, in the US, the recommendation for the influenza vaccine for the 2011-2012 season is everyone 6 months of age and older. Talk to your physician about which vaccination formulation is right for you.
posted by gingerest at 3:54 PM on November 7, 2011 [16 favorites]


This place should really come with open liquor and recreational drug bars.
Wait, your version doesn't? You should try installing the Unprofessional Background - so fun!

posted by rtha at 3:55 PM on November 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


i have asthma and my treatments for asthma and allergies are low dose steroids which suppress my immune system (flonase/flovent) - should i get a flu shot?

The CDC says that not only is the flu shot safe for people who are immunocompromised, they are actually one of the at-risk populations that should get the vaccine if supply is limited. "When vaccine supply is limited, vaccination efforts should focus on delivering vaccination to the following persons: ... persons who have immunosuppression (including immunosuppression caused by medications or by HIV)"

Note that this is for the regular, killed-virus flu shot. Immunocompromised people should not get the nasal mist vaccine.
posted by jedicus at 3:56 PM on November 7, 2011 [5 favorites]


And? Did they provide peer-reviewed studies showing that iodine allergy is a real condition? Because without evidence, a doctor's say-so (or worse, their silence) is a meaningless appeal to authority.

Interestingly, all you've managed to do is to undermine my faith in medical professionals in lieu of believing some guy on the internet posting articles that I don't have the training or expertese to evaluate or independently judge the veracity of.

In other words, you're doing to me exactly the same thing that the anti-vax proponents do to parents: telling me not to believe my doctor but to instead believe some article that was posted on the web.

(I get the whole 'peer-reviewed' part of your argument, but understand my point: it's very easy to post something on the web and make it look awfully official. There are a ton of 'journals' out there that are not peer-reviewed, and often no easy way for a layperson to tell the difference. Your link goes to a site called arjonline.org, a fairly obscure journal for a specialty with a funny name that most people are not familiar with, not the AMA or the CDC or even the Mayo clinic. You are, in essence, using nothing but your superior tone to try to convince me that this article is more valid that what doctors have been telling me for 30+ years. Maybe you don't see the irony in this, but if you're wondering how on earth anyone could believe that vaccinations might cause harm to your child, you've pretty much nailed it in one - doctors get stuff wrong. Information we've been told for decades turns out to be incorrect. It happens all the time. Is it a big leap, therefore, for some parents to believe that their doctors are wrong in this case, too?)
posted by anastasiav at 4:04 PM on November 7, 2011 [5 favorites]


Right.

I am officially retracting the "this is what my doctor said" comment, as it was my own jokey way of summing up what my doctor actually said.

My doctor did not say "flip a coin." Had I known that I would be held accountable to such an exacting degree what my doctor did say, I would not have made a joke about it like that. The summary of what my doctor DID say was that she would be happy to give me a vaccine, but based on my general health, my daily habits, and the degree of exposure I had to people in risk groups, it was not a mandatory thing.

And her reasoning for stating this is, quite frankly, NONE OF ANY OF YOUR BUSINESS. I will NOT be releasing the HIPAA forms to jedicus or to anyone on this board, because the rest of my medical history is NONE OF ANY OF YOUR BUSINESS, and it is quite jerkish to demand such a thing. (When I said "until you are working with my doctor", jedicus, I meant "until you are working with my doctor AS A NURSE OR ANOTHER DOCTOR".)

To repeat -- I have discussed the issue of whether or not to receive a flu vaccine with my doctor, and "the general public health" is one of the factors I have included in that discussion. Based on my doctor's access to my own personal medical history, my own daily habits, my own exposure to different risk groups, and my doctor's own knowledge about the public health in general, my doctor told me that it was not mandatory.

And I will say nothing further on the matter.

PERIOD.

posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:09 PM on November 7, 2011 [5 favorites]


awesome. thanks.
posted by nadawi at 4:09 PM on November 7, 2011


And frankly, I think the fact that I was called upon TO defend myself in such a way REALLY, REALLY, REALLY SUCKS.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:11 PM on November 7, 2011 [6 favorites]


I am really, really, really pro-vaccination. I LOVE VACCINATIONS. Infant and childhood vaccinations are a godsend, and people who refuse to vaccinate their children are. . . I don't even know what.

My five year old, though, hasn't been vaxed against varicella. When she was one -- the normal age that the varicella vax is given -- the booster shot wasn't really available out here, we'd just learned that the immunity drops off after ten to fifteen years, and it seemed ridiculous to immunize her for ONLY the period when it was a mild disease. My plan then was to get her the vaccination if she hadn't had the disease by the time she was ten. Now, though, we have the booster, there's evidence showing that if you maintain lifetime immunity through the vax then you're unlikely to get shingles, and my kid will be getting the vaccine at her next well-child appointment.

There are, believe it or not, sometimes genuine reasons not to vaccinate. Egg allergies, fragile immune systems, stuff like that. I had to be talked into giving my kid the pertussis vaccination, because both my husband and my brother had severe reactions to the vaccine when it was given to them as children, and I never had it. (They use an acellular prep now that doesn't have that risk, and so she is happily protected!) But there's a really big difference between "For this specific reason, we've chosen to delay this specific vaccine" and "OMG TOXINS MERCURY BIG PHARMA."

And Jedicus. . . do you really think people ought to be going to their doctors and saying "I know you have a medical degree and a medical practice and you make your recommendations based on your education and experience, but this guy on the Internet says I ought to do something different. So I want to do what the Internet guy says!" Because that's just lunacy, that's what the anti-vax people do. Feel free to disagree with people's doctors all you want, but it's just dumb to suggest that they should take your non-educated advice instead.
posted by KathrynT at 4:16 PM on November 7, 2011 [8 favorites]


I get the whole 'peer-reviewed' part of your argument, but understand my point

Peer-review, multiple studies, and large datasets are precisely the difference between what I've posted and the kind of stuff vaccine opponents rely on. So, no, there is no irony here.

And her reasoning for stating this is, quite frankly, NONE OF ANY OF YOUR BUSINESS. I will NOT be releasing the HIPAA forms to jedicus or to anyone on this board, because the rest of my medical history is NONE OF ANY OF YOUR BUSINESS, and it is quite jerkish to demand such a thing.

Demand? I did not demand it in any way, and I apologize if it came across as a demand.

I have discussed the issue of whether or not to receive a flu vaccine with my doctor, and "the general public health" is one of the factors I have included in that discussion. Based on my doctor's access to my own personal medical history, my own daily habits, my own exposure to different risk groups, and my doctor's own knowledge about the public health in general, my doctor told me that it was not mandatory.

And your doctor's opinion is at odds with expert consensus and official recommendations. Now, I'll grant (and have granted) that if your personal medical history puts you in one of the groups that should not receive the vaccine, that's fine. But that does not seem to be your reason.

And frankly, I think the fact that I was called upon TO defend myself in such a way REALLY, REALLY, REALLY SUCKS.

And frankly, I think that people who are eligible for the flu vaccine and have no reason not to get it yet choose to endanger people who are close to me really, really, really suck and should be called to account for their reckless behavior.

do you really think people ought to be going to their doctors and saying "I know you have a medical degree and a medical practice and you make your recommendations based on your education and experience, but this guy on the Internet says I ought to do something different. So I want to do what the Internet guy says!"

Absolutely not. I think people should say "I read a peer-reviewed study and want to know what you think about that" or "I read the government's recommendations and want to know what you think about that." I'm not asking anyone to believe me on account of my own say so. I'm asking people to read and weigh scientific evidence for themselves.

And again, this is not the same as what vaccine opponents do because they are not relying on scientific evidence.
posted by jedicus at 4:26 PM on November 7, 2011 [12 favorites]


I think this is way uncool. Not in my mail!
posted by agregoli at 4:40 PM on November 7, 2011


[Folks, it's officially time to back up and decide you're going to stop arguing about this and not turn it into a referendum or interrogation of one person. OK? MetaTalk is there if you need it.Take a walk if you need to.]
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 4:49 PM on November 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


After a cup of tea and some reflection it's clear that I'm too close to this issue, and commenting on issues I'm close to is sometimes problematic for me. It was wrong of me to get angry with anyone individually, and I apologize for that. I also apologize for derailing the thread into a general vaccine discussion rather than the topic of the post. I'm going to take a little break.
posted by jedicus at 4:52 PM on November 7, 2011 [5 favorites]


I've ranted about the anti-vaccination brigade before, and I was going to reprise it here, but decided to take a breath.

Families who vaccinate
literally pay to cover the social costs of the very few people injured by vaccines.
Thank you, Eyebrows McGee. People who vaccinate take the very small risk of harm, and they do it so that everyone, including the very few people with severe allergies or other health risks can be protected. It's social responsibility. It's being community-minded. I have a friend whose child could not be vaccinated until he was much older. Because most people get vaccinated, her child was safe from measles, mumps, diptheria, polio, etc.

People die from all sorts of things, but the consequences of Hepatitis B, Hepatitus A, Rotavirus, Diphtheria, Tetanus, Pertussis, Haemophilus Influenzae, Pneumococcal, Inactivated Poliovirus, Influenza, Measles, Mumps, Rubella, Varicella, Meningococcal, Human Papillomavirus are all real, potentially serious, worse than the vaccine and preventable. I'm envious of anybody who doesn't get shingles. And I'm so happy I never got polio because when I was a very small child child, polio vaccine became available. I got vaccinated for smallpox, yay. I had to worry a tiny bit about my son getting ill from a vaccine, but I didn't have to worry about him getting whooping cough. Infant and childhood vaccinations are a godsend. Thank you, KathrynT.

Anyone who takes the stupid, irresponsible, illegal risk of attempting to send live pathogens through the mail should be held accountable. Pox parties are dumb, and I feel sincere pity for anybody who intentionally exposes a child to chicken pox, if that child is seriously harmed.

I let my kid take lots of risks - riding a bike in a bike-hostile world, and being allowed to choose his safe distance from home (within reason), because those risks carried great benefits - healthy body, confidence, curiosity, and being away from the television. I'm so happy I didn't make him take stupid, avoidable risks with no benefit. (yeah, he did plenty of that on his own). This willful stupidity, this anti-science, "nyah-You-can't-make-me" attitude is making me rant and rant. thankfully, I can't type very fast.
posted by theora55 at 4:55 PM on November 7, 2011 [8 favorites]


Not having kids of my own yet, I had no idea that there was a Chickenpox Vaccine. I was born in 1980 and got it very, very young (like, 3 or 4) probably as the result of one of these pox parties, which I would argue absolutely made sense in the pre-vaccine days and make absolutely no sense now.

I've never gotten a flu shot, because I've got a miraculously hearty immune system (especially considering that I give it almost no favors) and I've just not paid enough attention to it except, I guess, in years when the vaccine was in short supply, and all I knew was that it would be unethical for strapping, mid-twenties (now early-thirties) me to try to take one of the few available shots. That and I have a massive phobia of needles.

If it's that important, though, and there's not usually a shortage, I guess I can get over my fear and try to do the right thing here.
posted by Navelgazer at 5:22 PM on November 7, 2011


I have a crippling phobia of needles

Which would be a big problem if you couldn't get the flu vaccine in inhaled form. Why not ask for that one?
posted by Justinian at 5:30 PM on November 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


man i don't think this is necessarily distrust of [] culture

distrust of science sure but i would probably hold that this is an affirmation of a culture (albeit one profoundly toxic)

also what is this shit i am hearing about a person with c. pox being infectious and asymptomatic, that is nightmarish
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 5:32 PM on November 7, 2011


One of the things I did when my kids turned three was to request the inhaled version for them. As it turns out, they weren't eligible for other reasons. The restrictions for the inhaled flu mist are much stricter than for the injected form.
posted by zarq at 5:37 PM on November 7, 2011


This, of course, alludes to you: " also what is this shit i am hearing about a person with c. pox being infectious and asymptomatic, that is nightmarish"

For up to three days before developing symptoms, yes.
posted by zarq at 5:38 PM on November 7, 2011


Oh, and what was that thing above about measles parties for girls and mumps parties for boys back in the day? When have these diseases ever been gendered?
posted by Navelgazer at 5:40 PM on November 7, 2011


thanks zarq

of the reasons i can think of for ingesting bodily fluids from complete strangers this is probably among the least fun or savory
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 5:40 PM on November 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


MY MIND IS BLOWN. One of the comments on that Slate article says that polio wasn't wiped out by vaccine, that it was "declining on it's own." I'm scared I have to live in a world with people with such little understanding of science. Can someone suggest where I can donate to improve science education?
posted by agregoli at 5:45 PM on November 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


(I think this is part of the "opinion" based culture of the internet and reality shows. If it's your OPINION, it's better than fact! We have to "respect" people's opinions, especially regarding their kids. Well, not always. Not when it's crazypants.)
posted by agregoli at 5:47 PM on November 7, 2011 [4 favorites]


This is just that much more crazy because chicken pox is kind of no joke. I mean it's unklikely to kill you, but I was out for a solid 5-7 days as a kid. And I mean really ill.

And that's not to mention the scarring. It's not usually too bad, but I know at least a few adults with quite noticable scars on their faces. While not the end of the world, hardly ideal.

One funny thing it does make me realize is how this will be a big generational dividing line between people who had chicken pox and those who didn't. And even odder to think that at the age of ten in 1992 I was I'm guessing at the tail end of it.
posted by whoaali at 5:50 PM on November 7, 2011


Chicken pox is still pretty mild as viral infections that aren't the common cold go, particularly in kids, and there does appear to be research to suggest that immunity gained as a result of a childhood infection is more likely to be life-long and less likely to result in shingles later in life.

I wish this were true. As anecdata I had chicken pox as a child and have already had shingles (at around the age of 42). My brothers also had chicken pox and have had shingles as well...all around the same time as me.

I got it on my ribs right in line with my right nipple and still have residual pain years later. Pain-wise it was worse than breaking ribs because while the intensity was about the same you can temporarily avoid broken rib pain by not moving. There was no such relief for direct nerve inflammation.

So as a tip for anyone considering doing this, I suggest you stomp on your child's arm until it breaks. Then tell yourself it will heal stronger.
posted by srboisvert at 5:54 PM on November 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


Oh, and what was that thing above about measles parties for girls and mumps parties for boys back in the day? When have these diseases ever been gendered?

I only got as far as "mumps makes your balls swell up and has the potential to make dudes infertile" before I got distracted by my cooking.
posted by mollymayhem at 6:04 PM on November 7, 2011


(And, as my grammar might indicate upon rereading that comment, my drinking.)
posted by mollymayhem at 6:17 PM on November 7, 2011


I never had chicken pox either despite the fact that my twin brother did and has the pock marks to prove it. I got a vaccine shot the other day but considering that direct exposure to the actual disease did nothing I'm not overly enthused about what effect the shot might have.

Uh...well, I never got it as a kid and when I went to get the vaccination they did a blood test and said I'd already been exposed and didn't need it. They let you get the shot anyway?
posted by jenfullmoon at 6:20 PM on November 7, 2011


If I ever visit the US, where do I volunteer for setting up FEMA camps? I have some job experience in construction.
posted by Anything at 6:23 PM on November 7, 2011


Oh my God I'm just getting over a mild case of shingles and HOLY FUCK IS IT AWFUL. Like, "I can't move without wanting to die" awful. I was lucky enough that I could work from bed through the worst of it, otherwise it would have been a pretty significant financial hit as well as a physical one. I had to listen to my Dad gloat about getting his shingles vaccine the next day (unrelated). I got a call from my mom that started with the phrase "I'm concerned about your herpes." Since I'm only 29, the doctor went straight to HIV, so I had to get tested for that too which was frightening even though I knew I had nothing to worry about.

You need to catch it (see a doctor, not contract it) fairly quick, so here's my description of initial symptoms so you know what to consider. I basically had an invisible rash that spread quickly from my ribs around to my back on one side. It was very tender and painful to the touch, but there was no appearance at all of a rash for about a week. I googled and shingles seemed likely. When the awful blistery rash finally showed up I got the hell to the doctor. Once it appears you've got about 72 hours for medicine to curb it. Either way, buckle in.

You've never known pain such as trying to walk down the street with shingles. Every movement of your clothing is agony. Heck, the blisters are almost completely healed now and it's still pretty uncomfortable.

Fuck shingles.
posted by yellowbinder at 6:24 PM on November 7, 2011 [4 favorites]


I had chicken pox as a very small child (no scarring luckily) and then I did get shingles when I was about 40. It was excruciating. Before we figured out what it was, my wife was applying calamine lotion to the red patches on my back with a cotton ball and it was AGONIZING. She thought I was fucking around at first and me, well I wanted to kill her. It was incredible, and I'm no stranger to physical pain due to injuries suffered on a motorcycle and etc. Shingles is no fun and I wouldn't wish it on anyone. EVER. So yeah, both my kids got their vaccinations.
posted by Ron Thanagar at 6:35 PM on November 7, 2011


(whoops. Let me try that again.) Oh, and what was that thing above about measles parties for girls and mumps parties for boys back in the day? When have these diseases ever been gendered?

It was considered very important that boys get the mumps before puberty because of the possibility of sterility when contracted later

It was considered very important that girls get measles before child bearing age because getting the measles during pregnancy can cause birth defects. (Fun note: Agatha Christie used that fact as motive for murder in The Mirror Cracked From Side to Side.)

You've never known pain such as trying to walk down the street with shingles. Every movement of your clothing is agony. Heck, the blisters are almost completely healed now and it's still pretty uncomfortable.

The reason for my Premature Posting was my sympathy grimace after reading this comment distracted me and I forgot what I was doing.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 6:37 PM on November 7, 2011


Which would be a big problem if you couldn't get the flu vaccine in inhaled form. Why not ask for that one?

Mostly because I'd never heard of it before. Google sez it was only approved in Canada last year, and apparently hit shelves here in BC less than a month ago. So that would be the reason it's been a big problem.
posted by Hoopo at 6:37 PM on November 7, 2011


Chicken pox at 18 months, shingles at 29. Seconding yellowbinder, HOLY FUCKING HELL. I would not wish that on anyone. My progression was a bit different, though. It started off as itchy with no visible rash, then the itching intensified and I had a visible rash running in a strip down my right leg from my hip to about 2-3 inches above my knee.

I went to the ER (since it was Saturday, I was miserable, and I didn't want to wait until Monday to see someone) and the nice doctor told me I had shingles. He even pulled out a nifty diagram that showed the nerve pathways and sure enough the rash on my leg followed those same pathways. Neat! He asked if I wanted pain meds, and I kinda looked at him like he was crazy. Seriously, what kind of whimp needs pain meds for an itchy rash? I politely declined. He sent me home with herpes meds (yay :/) where I itched and whined until the next day.

Then the pain hit. OH MY FUCKING GOD. I cried. I wished I had accepted the doctor's offer for pain meds. Any time anything, including my clothing, brushed against my skin I wanted to scream. Ever tried to go pantsless in January? Not fun. I did discover that everyone's advice to wear loose fitting clothing was bunk, though. Loose clothing flaps around like crazy. Tight pants is where it's at. They stay glued to your skin when you move and don't brush up against the excruciatingly painful blistery horror that is covering half your leg. Just a tip for you.

Seriously though, if there is a vaccine to prevent what I went through, why on earth wouldn't you take it? Even if I had to get chicken pox boosters annually for the rest of my life, you better believe I would be first in line!
posted by ValkoSipuliSuola at 6:42 PM on November 7, 2011


It's rubella, also known as German Measles, that causes birth defects, not measles.

Anyone sending rubella through the mail deserves to go to jail for it.
posted by bq at 6:47 PM on November 7, 2011


It was considered very important that girls get measles before child bearing age because getting the measles during pregnancy can cause birth defects. (Fun note: Agatha Christie used that fact as motive for murder in The Mirror Cracked From Side to Side.)

Yes, in The Mirror Crack'd, Miss Marple [SPOILER ALERT] discovers that a film star poisoned a seemingly random bystander:
When Heather Badcock encountered Marina Gregg at the party where she is murdered, she had told her her favourite anecdote about how, years before, she had been ill, but had sneaked out to meet Marina and get her autograph. A terrible expression appeared on Marina's face as she heard this story, reminding a witness of the line from Tennyson's poem. Marina had always desperately wanted children but had found it difficult to conceive...when her baby was born it was found to be mentally handicapped and was abandoned to a lifetime of institutions, leaving Marina emotionally scarred.

Miss Marple later deduces what Marina had instantly realised. Heather's minor illness was German measles; she had infected Marina and caused the mental handicap, and effectively the 'loss', of her only child. Marina murdered Heather for revenge.
The plot is thought to be based on the real-life experience of American movie star Gene Tierney.
posted by lalex at 6:49 PM on November 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


Oh, and what was that thing above about measles parties for girls and mumps parties for boys back in the day? When have these diseases ever been gendered?

Mumps: what mollymayhem says above. Measles: more specifically, this would be German measles, which, if contracted by a pregnant woman, is likely to cause severe birth defects in her child. Hence, it was common when I was growing up (late 50s/early 60s) for a girls-only party to be organized any time a girl got German measles. (I don't remember actually having such a party, though I did have German measles, as well as regular measles, chicken pox, scarlet fever, and mumps. Oh, and shingles when I was 13. I would have been extremely happy to have had immunizations for some of these when I was younger...)
posted by Kat Allison at 6:53 PM on November 7, 2011


MY MIND IS BLOWN. One of the comments on that Slate article says that polio wasn't wiped out by vaccine, that it was "declining on it's own."

My favorite way of disproving this one is this chart and this graph.

While it's true that polio cases were already decreasing from their peak in the 50s, epidemic diseases do not "decline on their own" to zero... much less right after a long-sought vaccine is introduced. These people might as well claim that their coffee makes itself every morning, because the water temperature was "increasing on its own" since sun-up.
posted by vorfeed at 6:53 PM on November 7, 2011 [4 favorites]


I read this thread at work and at the end of the day proceeded directly to CVS for a flu shot.
posted by little cow make small moo at 7:02 PM on November 7, 2011 [4 favorites]


I was on the fence about the chicken pox vaccine for my son - I had the 'pox as a kid and eh. No real memories of it beyond having socks taped to my hands to keep me from scratching my own face off. (I was three.) My main concern for him is that the vaccine might cause shingles down the line - same as the disease. I wasn't sure if the disease was itself bad enough to warrant the vaccine if the vaccine carries the same long term risks.

After hearing reports of what the disease was like for adults, I've decided to go ahead with the chicken pox vaccine. So, thanks for that, MetaFilter.

(And yes, he gets ALL of his other vaccines. Even flu. Even DPT - though I'm allergic to the pertussis component and there was some concern about being super watchful on that one. This is the only one I was on the fence about due to risk of shingles.)
posted by sonika at 7:22 PM on November 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


The decline in infectious disease is not only because of vaccines -- it's also because of things like improved sanitation, nutrition, potable water, etc. I mention this not to say it's not about vaccines -- it is -- it's also larger environmental and governance factors. There's always been a subset of people who avoid vaccines/medical care (see: Jehovah's Witnesses) -- and that abstention contributed to some marginal decrease to herd immunity - but it's looking like the cultural factor is on the increase. The challenge to medicine and governance is significant.

One thing I learned in medicine (I worked as a Respiratory Therapist for many years long ago) is to deal with the cultural aspects of medical care dispassionately and rationally. If a patient does not want to agree to a procedure, the medical team makes their case as strongly as possible, and in cases where appropriate, a patient or responsible party will be asked to sign a statement that they reject the recommended care "AMA" -- against medical advice. It requires the medical team to be able to speak intelligently about the care they're giving, how and why it is the right thing, to explain the risks, and make their case. They have to be able to do that with a sensitivity to the language, cultural, religious aspects of the patient.

The onus is on our public health institutions to do this work. Unfortunately, funding for this work in an era where all budgets for government are strained -- it concerns me. Public health is infrastructure. And like the bridges, roads, schools and other infrastructure -- the US must do better than we currently do.
posted by artlung at 7:31 PM on November 7, 2011 [4 favorites]


Oh, and for the record, I didn't make it through the shingles episode without pain meds. I went rummaging through my medicine cabinet and found some leftover cough syrup with codeine from when I had bronchitis and proceeded to swig that for the rest of the day. First thing Monday I called my doctor, who called in meds for me right away. Even with narcotics I was still miserable.
posted by ValkoSipuliSuola at 7:34 PM on November 7, 2011


This is something my sister would do. Normally, you'd think she was a bright, competent, with-it professional with children. Compared to me, she's really got it going on. But she'd do this. In the mid 70s, my mother hosted the neighborhood "pox party". I didn't catch it so she cut my skin & applied the pus from a sibling's pox. *shudder* I still didn't catch it. Turns out, I can't get it or any other virus in that family.

My then husband caught as an adult from our kids in the early 90s. Apparently, chicken pox can infect the brain and beneath the skin. Some hospitalization & strong antibiotics got him through without obvious damage. (I still didn't catch it. Docs say I can't catch it.) I didn't yet think the then brand new chicken pox vaccine was that safe - I insisted we wait because I wanted to see how other kids over the years reacted. I nearly killed my husband with that.
posted by _paegan_ at 7:39 PM on November 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Thank you for the early warning signs of shingles, you guys.

Is there actually a decent chance that a new case of shingles won't become excruciating? I'm kind of alarmed by that ER doctor who asked and shrugged instead of just writing ValkoSipuliSuola a prescription.
posted by Adventurer at 7:51 PM on November 7, 2011


Im kind of bummed that I'll be out of the office the day my office is offering free flu shots. It's so convenient doing it that way.
posted by Karmakaze at 8:29 PM on November 7, 2011


Jehan writes "Asking people to come back in midlife to be revaccinated won't be a great success, and the population will be more exposed over time."

They should lump it in with Tetanus. ERs hand it out like candy because it only lasts 10 years.
posted by Mitheral at 8:43 PM on November 7, 2011


Has anyone else felt really itchy while reading this thread? *scratches frantically*
posted by deborah at 9:50 PM on November 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm super jealous of people who got to take advantage of the chicken pox vaccine. By the time it was available I'd already had chicken pox. Twice. In the same year. (Got it at daycare, recuperated, reinfected 4 months later by the neighbor kid. Thanks, neighbor kid.)
posted by palomar at 9:57 PM on November 7, 2011


My shingles progressed differently: the rash appeared first without many other symptoms and I thought they were just spots initially. Then it just spread over the dermatome affected as the itching kicked in. I cottoned on around then though, and the second doctor (after one said it wasn't shingles and after a nurse also said it definitely wasn't shingles) exclaimed "Oh! Classic shingles!" in an almost delighted manner and gave me antivirals (fortunately soon enough).
And Adventurer - I got very lucky and had very little and very mild pain and no neuralgia afterwards, no other complications either but my GOD the itching. I don't know how common it is to escape the worst of it like that though.
posted by edd at 11:43 PM on November 7, 2011


It's a self-correcting problem, generally - these idiots are actively killing off their young, for all intents and purposes.

If people want to kill themselves through stupidity, well, that's one thing. I don't happen to think children are chattels to be killed (or raped, or prostituted) at the whims of parents.

Even if I did believe that, they'd be endangering other people, like, say, postal workers and people recieving mail processed through the same mail centre or living in the same apartment.

MY MIND IS BLOWN. One of the comments on that Slate article says that polio wasn't wiped out by vaccine, that it was "declining on it's own." I'm scared I have to live in a world with people with such little understanding of science. Can someone suggest where I can donate to improve science education?

I've read in the last year that this degeneration has progressed to the point where there's a fringe apparently seriously arguing against the germ theory of disease.

Not having kids of my own yet, I had no idea that there was a Chickenpox Vaccine.

It's relatively new.
posted by rodgerd at 12:53 AM on November 8, 2011


> they expect there's still mercury today

There's still thiomersal in flu vaccines for people over two years old.
posted by morganw at 12:57 AM on November 8, 2011


A friend of mine has scarring to the membrane lining her skull because of chickenpox which she had as a young child. (She ended up in hospital from the chickenpox, it was that severe.)

She has many fun! side effects, including the ability to injure herself by picking up a playing card off a dining table, because her proprioception (sense of her body) is impaired, so she will accidentally over-extend her reach and badly tear her shoulder muscles. She also started getting regular migraines for the first time soon after the chickenpox. The migraines were still persisting 10 years later, and caused her to miss a lot of school and social events.

Chicken pox - it's not a harmless childhood illness.
posted by Year of meteors at 2:16 AM on November 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


>"The decline in infectious disease is not only because of vaccines -- it's also because of things like improved sanitation, nutrition, potable water, etc."

I watched a documentary about the race to get a polio vaccine (march of dimes fundraising, iron lung, the Salk and Sabine and their vaccines) and the spike in
this graph before the vaccines were introduced (graph referenced up thread) is BECAUSE of improved sanitation.

What happened is that people weren't getting exposed to the virus because, basically, sewage wasn't mixing with the drinking water any more. This is why the disease 'targeted' children- those with no exposure to the disease.

Obviously, the answer was to get vaccines out there, not to undo the wonder of sanitation.

Also: as it has been mentioned before: sending infectious diseases through the post should be cracked down on, hard.
posted by titanium_geek at 2:39 AM on November 8, 2011


One of the comments on that Slate article says that polio wasn't wiped out by vaccine, that it was "declining on it's own." I'm scared I have to live in a world with people with such little understanding of science.

It's not really a misunderstanding of science or how disease works, but a misunderstanding of the diseases themselves. Because so many in my generation (born early 80s) were vaccinated, we haven't seen a lot of these diseases in the wild. So, we don't have first hand knowledge of how bad the diseases actually ARE. Having not seen them in action, it's easy to be really dismissive of both the severity of the disease and the efficacy of vaccines.

(I incidentally know a very influential blogger in the "mommy blogger" world who is both getting a Master's in Public Health and refuses to fully vaccinate her own children on belief that the vaccine will fuck them up and that the science behind vaccines is "highly debatable." MY MIND IT BOGGLES.)

This leads to such fun conversations as when mentioning to a fellow mom at playgroup who isn't vaccinating her son that I can't get the pertussis vaccine and it's important to me that my son get the vaccine because I could pass it on to him. And y'know, he could pass it on to me, and I'd really rather not go through that. Her response? "Oh, that's fine. It's not fatal in adults."

Yeah, no remorse about my getting pertussis because I wouldn't die from it.

I'm not entirely sure how I didn't punch her.
posted by sonika at 3:29 AM on November 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yeah, no remorse about my getting pertussis because I wouldn't die from it.

Which is more or less the same problem you referred to: people don't really know how bad pertussis -- which is a lot less evocative a name than whooping cough -- is, so it sounds like you want her to vaccinate her kids (which she believes to be very dangerous for little reward) just so you can not be inconvenienced by a cough. Which is not true, but it feels true.

Vaccines have been a remarkable victim of their own success.
posted by jeather at 4:16 AM on November 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


There's still thiomersal in flu vaccines for people over two years old.

Only in the multi-dose vials. The nasal spray and the one-shot syringe don't have preservatives, apart from being sterilized and sealed in plastic.
posted by LogicalDash at 5:02 AM on November 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


My third kid spent a week in hospital on anti-viral drugs because his mother caught chicken pox in the last week of her pregnancy. He didn't die, which was a possibility, but the "no big deal" disease really screwed up our lives for a couple of weeks.
I remember holding my other kids up to the window outside the hospital so they could see their new brother (not touch, they were the infection vector) and their sadness at not being able to cuddle their new brother or kiss their mother.
And this is in a 1st world country with free medical care. How many new born kids will die because this "no big deal" virus survives due to misguided anti-vax nonsense?
posted by bystander at 5:16 AM on November 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


I've read in the last year that this degeneration has progressed to the point where there's a fringe apparently seriously arguing against the germ theory of disease.

what
posted by rtha at 5:25 AM on November 8, 2011


I've read in the last year that this degeneration has progressed to the point where there's a fringe apparently seriously arguing against the germ theory of disease.

what


Via Orac, in 2007 and again this year. Essentially, "Pasteur recanted on his deathbed", mixed with "we get sick from accumulated toxins".
posted by frimble at 5:34 AM on November 8, 2011


They should lump it in with Tetanus. ERs hand it out like candy because it only lasts 10 years

ProTip: If you are like me, an avid gardener* who is scattered brained and doesn't keep great records, then get a tetanus booster on or around your decade birthdays-- that way it is easy to remember "When was the last time you had a tetanus shot?"

*Gardening is considered a high risk occupation for contacting tetanus because the bacteria is anaerobic and lingers in the soil.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 5:42 AM on November 8, 2011


Don't you know that an apple juice and onion cleanse will cure chicken pox? Wake up and get off the teat of Big Pharma, sheeple!
posted by Horselover Phattie at 5:42 AM on November 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Don't you know that an apple juice and onion cleanse will cure chicken pox? Wake up and get off the teat of Big Pharma, sheeple!

Gaaaah. You are so wrong! The way to remove built up toxins is by applying Kinoki Detox Foot Pads Proof? Apply them at night and rip them off in the morning and they will be black-- proving beyond a shadow of a doubt that they have removed ugly toxins from your body through the soles of your feet. They work like magic.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 5:49 AM on November 8, 2011


I've read in the last year that this degeneration has progressed to the point where there's a fringe apparently seriously arguing against the germ theory of disease.

what


That's the course in the new Liberal Arts Degree in "Progressive Regression" - the prereq for it is Creation Theory 101, right after a botanical look at the Garden of Eden.
posted by infini at 5:56 AM on November 8, 2011


Via Orac, in 2007 and again this year. Essentially, "Pasteur recanted on his deathbed", mixed with "we get sick from accumulated toxins".

*weeps for humanity*

(BTW, your second link goes to this thread instead of whatever you meant to link to.)
posted by rtha at 6:02 AM on November 8, 2011


Sorry, copy/paste fail. Should have gone here
posted by frimble at 6:06 AM on November 8, 2011


that Caroline Nally woman in the linked news story need to go to prison.
posted by smoothvirus at 6:12 AM on November 8, 2011


> The way to remove built up toxins is by applying Kinoki Detox Foot Pads

Everyone knows that those pads are only good for removing geopathic stress. That black stuff is simply the accumulation of radio waves and other EMFs that the body stores like fat. If you want to cure pox you gotta go with the sweet and sour liver cleanse. It's the only way.
posted by Horselover Phattie at 6:37 AM on November 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Does the Korean/Swahili version of the sweet and sour pork I had for lunch count as a toxic cleanser for these etheric vapours?
posted by infini at 7:27 AM on November 8, 2011


It seems that, generally, people who talk extensively about "toxins" are full of shit.
posted by grubi at 7:35 AM on November 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


I incidentally know a very influential blogger in the "mommy blogger" world who is both getting a Master's in Public Health and refuses to fully vaccinate her own children on belief that the vaccine will fuck them up and that the science behind vaccines is "highly debatable." MY MIND IT BOGGLES.

At this point, I'm convinced that the only way we'll see an increase in vaccination rates again is if we have a large outbreak(s) and hundreds/thousands of kids die. Then you'll see people lining up around the corner to get the scary shots.
posted by longdaysjourney at 7:38 AM on November 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


Sounds like someone needs a colon cleanse!
posted by Horselover Phattie at 7:38 AM on November 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


It seems that, generally, people who talk extensively about "toxins" are full of shit.

The abuse of the word "toxins" or "energy" is international shorthand for Please Ignore Anything I Say.
posted by The Whelk at 7:41 AM on November 8, 2011 [13 favorites]


For the record, folks, if you're over 23 or so and haven't gotten a DPT booster, you should probably get on that. I was exposed to pertussis at work, via a (vaccinated!) kid who coughed on me for a week before anyone figured out what he was sick with. I came down with the early symptoms, got to the doctor and was handed antibiotics before the cough set in, but I was surprised to learn that my childhood shot only lasts about 10 years. Herd immunity only goes so far.
posted by nonasuch at 7:51 AM on November 8, 2011


Her response? "Oh, that's fine. It's not fatal in adults."

My boss at my old job caught pertussis from an unvaccinated friend of her child. She didn't die, but she lost forty pounds because every time she coughed, she coughed so hard she would vomit, so she couldn't keep food down. She didn't have forty pounds to spare, and when she came back to work she was still so underweight it was kind of disturbing to look at her.

The cavalier hand-waving about the inadvertent impact on the health of strangers is maddening. It's part of the social contract, people.
posted by ambrosia at 8:03 AM on November 8, 2011 [7 favorites]


I got chicken pox from my brother when I was 5 years old. It was pretty uncomfortable - my parents had to cut my fingernails to the quick and cover my hands with socks to prevent me from scratching. Scratching the pox lesions can leave scars, btw. It itched like hell, on top of the usual viral infection fun of fever, aches & sore throat. My case was mild compared to my brother - he had it in his mouth & throat; and while my lesions were small fluid-filled dots, my brother's were so numerous that they merged into fluid-filled islands that were at least an inch or two in diameter. He had to recuperate in a darkened room because the light hurt his eyes. It sucked.

Gettting shingles later in life sucks too. I remember that a co-worker once got shingles in her eyes. She was out on sick leave for 3 months.

I will gladly vaccinate my son against this illness. Seriously, why should a kid have to go through this if there's a vaccine that prevents it.
posted by echolalia67 at 8:25 AM on November 8, 2011


The cavalier hand-waving about the inadvertent impact on the health of strangers is maddening. It's part of the social contract, people.

I think people failing to hold up their end of the social contract is something you'll generally find across the board (parking/driving habits, restaurant etiquette, those assholes who take two steps onto a subway AND THEN STAND THERE BLOCKING THE WAY SO PEOPLE CAN'T GET ON, etc.), so this may not be quite as convincing an appeal as one would hope.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:28 AM on November 8, 2011


When your child screams for four hours straight because their brain is swelling and then has sensory disorders and temper tantrums for years after vaccinating them, I think you would change your tune about vaccinations.
Here's the thing ... in the 2007-2008 winter season, my family had been through a horrorshow of waves upon waves of flu and cold infections. January was when my son was due for his 18 month scheduled vaccine. I asked the doctor if I could delay it, seeing as the whole family had already been through 6 weeks of misery and I didn't want to make my kid feel sick again after weeks of already being sick. She agreed. About 2 weeks later the whole family was hit by the worst flu I've ever experienced. Two weeks of 102+ fevers, severe respiratory problems, & aches. My skin actually hurt, and I wondered at one point why I wasn't dead yet. After that subsided a few weeks later, I started to notice autism symptoms in my son.

Coincidence? Probably. But the one thing I know for damn sure, my kid's autism was not caused by any vaccines he had up to that point. In fact, if for some strange reason his autism was triggered by the viral infection we all got that winter, a vaccine for that particular virus just might have saved him from becoming autistic. How's that for irony, anti-vaxxers?

I met another mother who had a kid with Autism Spectrum Disorder. She was virulently anti-vax and claimed that even whooping cough in infants could be treated with homeopathy. The fact that her own unvaccinated child had autism was apparently lost on her.
posted by echolalia67 at 9:08 AM on November 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


but based on my general health, my daily habits, and the degree of exposure I had to people in risk groups, it was not a mandatory thing.

I don't really look like someone in a risk group - and no one that doesn't know my exact medical history/conditions would think I am. But I am. Elective non-vaxers hurt people like me.
posted by Pax at 10:51 AM on November 8, 2011


I shouldn't say I don't "really" look like someone in a risk group. I should say no one would ever guess I'm in several risk groups, unless they have seen my medical records (or my medicine cabinet).
posted by Pax at 10:57 AM on November 8, 2011


I don't think this has been posted here yet, but a UK doctor who didn't get vaccinated, contracted flu and then passed it on to a pregnant colleague has shared his story on the BBC News in the hope that he would encourage others to get vaccinated.

'"I infected a pregnant colleague and put her unborn baby's life at risk." He said he was "angry and slightly embarrassed", as his flu had been "completely preventable".
[...]
Dr Hockey said: "As a doctor and someone with asthma I was offered the vaccine more than once, but didn't bother. I thought it was something for patients, not clinicians and was completely ignorant to the fact I was putting my life and my patients' lives at risk."'

posted by knapah at 12:35 PM on November 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


It's funny how the radical right and the radical left seem to converge at a self-centered distrust of science and culture.

Any examples about the 'radical left' doing that or any definition of the term? Lefties are usually overrepresented in culture in Europe.
posted by ersatz at 2:19 PM on November 8, 2011


Me?

Pox at 18 (escaped with one visible scar on my forehead). Currently 44, no shingles. Fingers crossed. I still have no idea where I got them. Learned to love oatmeal baths (although cleaning up after them sucked).
posted by Samizdata at 8:13 PM on November 8, 2011


Any examples about the 'radical left' doing that

Around here the anti-vax crowd are hippies who vote green and hate 'the man'. Although not all are anti-vax.
posted by bystander at 12:40 AM on November 9, 2011


In the 1700's with smallpox, they'd just cut you open and slide infected pus into your system and your body would get it and scar up and then you'd be healed, kind of, afterwards. After several weeks.
posted by Lipstick Thespian at 3:39 AM on November 9, 2011


I heard about this a few days ago when I had the news on in the background. I caught most of the elements of the story, but this is how my brain put the pieces together:
"There is a rumor going around on facebook that people are mailing chicken pox-tainted candy and lollypops to children. This is not true, and parents shouldn't worry; sending chicken pox through the USPS is illegal."
The main reason I checked this post was to see why so many people were talking about a dumb internet rumor. To counter this lunacy I'm going to start a facebook rumor that people are sending poison and LSD-laced lollypops to children and officials are urging parents to discard any and all sweets they find in their mailbox.

In stark contrast is another news story I heard about a pediatrician who no longer accepts patients who are not vaccinated. He decided he didn't want to jeopardize the health of his vaccinated patients. Years ago a co-worker brought his little kid to the office but neglected to tell anyone he was sent home from school with chicken pox. Even though we were all playing with him. Grr.

I grew up in the mid-60s-70s , and rather than the pox parties others here are talking about I remember that kids with chicken pox, mumps, measles, etc. were pretty isolated from the other kids, and how much that sucked for them. I didn't know about the chicken pox vaccine, so since I'm pox-free I'm going to put a call in to my doctor to see if I need it.
posted by Room 641-A at 4:42 AM on November 9, 2011


In stark contrast is another news story I heard about a pediatrician who no longer accepts patients who are not vaccinated.

This is actually fairly common practice. The mom I mentioned upthread who chose not to vaccinate her son reported having a hell of a time finding a pediatrician who would "respect her decision." Most pediatricians will work with you if you choose to go on a delayed schedule or forgo some vaccines for medical reasons - but very, very few will work with families who refuse to vaccinate at all.
posted by sonika at 4:45 AM on November 9, 2011


@anastasiav

I know of someone else how is convinced that their shellfish allergy is an allergy to iodine. I was able to convince them otherwise only after I was certain that it wasn't true. I make homemade beer and sterilize all of my equipment with iodine (essentially cow teat dip, if you're allergic to iodine you couldn't drink milk) and they were able to drink my beer without any allergic reaction. When they asked how I was convinced that they weren't allergic to iodine I simply replied that they had drank my beer and not had a reaction.

I wouldn't have had them drink the beer if I was even slightly concerned that they had an allergy to iodine, in fact this whole exchange came up weeks after they had the beer well before any allergy was a possibility in my mind.
posted by koolkat at 10:11 AM on November 9, 2011


I did have German measles, as well as regular measles, chicken pox, scarlet fever, and mumps. My mom went through that in the mid-50s...all in a row! She may have even had a "mild" (!) case of polio, they just weren't sure because she'd been sick with so many things for so long. (Her feet are seriously wacky: a whole size different, McDonald's-style arches, and hammertoes.)

And my husband had what was almost certainly pertussis a number of years ago, and it was the worst, most painful-sounding coughing I've ever heard. He was so incredibly unhappy. Maybe it won't kill an adult, but you might wish you were dead.
posted by epersonae at 10:14 AM on November 9, 2011


Re: Iodine and the none existence of allergies to very small molecules and atoms.

I've been putting off writing this because people get weirdly emotional about this shit, and nobody is probably looking at this point, but here goes:

Allergies are not always allergies. I've had people describe things as an allergic response that I would have called a chemical burn. Similarly, the inability to digest certain foods also get's labeled allergy a lot, but it isn't. This is not to say such things are not bad, but if you can't digest lactose taking an antihistamine will be just as effective as being flogged by a virgin in the light of the full moon.

Allergies are mediated by the antibdy isotype IgE (Immunoglobulin E). IgE is an antibody type that is often associated with anti-parasitic activity (which is what gives rise to the hygiene hypothesis). Specific data on the binding site of an antibody is hard to come by (because your immune system can crank a huge number of different antibodies) but antibodies against proteins tend to target domains of about 13 different amino acids. This is important because having antibodies that regularly stick to things other than their target all willy nilly is a good way to die horribly, and even so, cross reactivity is not unheard of (heart damage due to scarlet fever). There is a whole bunch of distinguishing self from non-self stuff that works in the half-assed way of so many evolutionary solutions hence the number of autoimmune diseases out there.

Anyhow, in order for something to be immunogenic, it needs to be of sufficient size, complexity, structurally stable and so on. Iodine (or iodide) is too small and too simple to support IgE binding itself, but that is not to say there isn't a molecule in shell fish that includes an iodine atom that you couldn't be allergic to, only that the molecule in question is not I2 or I-. Calling that an iodine allergy is a bad idea because iodine is an essential trace element and it's a little like calling an allergic response to poision ivy "an oxygen allergy" since Urushiol contains two oxygens. It's likely to lead to all sorts of irrelevant flogging, hence this conversation.

And the moon isn't even full.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 4:00 PM on November 9, 2011 [7 favorites]


In the 1700's with smallpox, they'd just cut you open and slide infected pus into your system and your body would get it and scar up and then you'd be healed, kind of, afterwards. After several weeks.

Actually, while I don't recall this, I do know however, for a fact, that this was the method being used in India in the late 1960s and have teh scar to prove it.

However, the simple scratch method remained popular until the end of the vaccination era. Although the instruments used are not discussed in detail, representative examples of the wide variety used at various times and for the various techniques are illustrated. Again, the simplest and earliest designs remained in use throughout. ~ NIH
posted by infini at 2:53 AM on November 10, 2011


Even worse - the herpes simplex virus also re-emerged a few years ago as ocular herpes my right eye. If you've ever lit one of your eyeballs on fire, well, that's pretty much what it felt like.

posted by malocchio


Eponysterical!
posted by threeants at 12:38 PM on November 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


So - please forgive me if this concept has been posted upthread, but I think I just hit on a goldmine from suckers (in both senses of the meaning).

All Natural LOLLIPOX.

In fact, I just made a little mockup poster here.
posted by symbioid at 4:07 PM on November 12, 2011 [3 favorites]


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