21 October 2009

What She Said

You know, I really can't add a thing to this article. I only wish that the morons of the world (ahem, Jenny McCarthy) would read it with an open mind and actually learn something. But then again, pigs'd fly first. Instead, credulous people choose to believe in crackpot theories and revile people who work hard to reduce sickness in the world. Oh, and make death threats against them. Why oh why, do people actually listen to Jenny instead of Amy?

Truly -- while people believe that they are exercising their rights to make their own medical decisions and appropriate medical decisions for their children, inadequate immunization brings a great deal of risk to the population as a whole, as well as to each individual person. Herd immunity is a function of a large enough percent of the population being vaccinated -- if that number too low, herd immunity disappears. You need quite a high percentage of population vaccinated to provide herd immunity for the community. For example, measles and pertussis are rather contagious and may require up to 94% of the population to be vaccinated for that vaccine to confer herd immunity.

Herd immunity confers protection to those who either can't receive a vaccine due to health reasons (immunocompromised, cancer, chemotherapy, infants) or people whose vaccines have failed (they don't "take" in everyone). Therefore, when these "concerned parents" choose not to vaccinate their children, they are actually endangering the health of other parents' kids, even if those kids are vaccinated. So while part of me says "fuck you, evil parents who don't vaccinate their kids, your kids'll pay for it", in reality, it is those who are sick and vulnerable that bear the brunt of these people's folly.

6 comments:

vince said...

The drug companies have given these people ammunition through periodic unethical and even criminal behavior in an effort to push certain drugs, sometimes for uses or which they were not approved.

It also doesn't help that there isn't a coordinated and public effect to push back at these people with effective and knowledgeable speakers.

People are notoriously bad at be spotting errors of logic and at risk assessment. I blame a lot of this on what we don't teach in high school and college.

Finally, as a society we assign greater weight to remarks by celebrities, regardless of there level of expertise in a subject.

People need to understand that everything we do carries risk, whether it's crossing the street or taking a drug. Surgery, for example, always carries a risk of death. Yet people have voluntary surgery (surgery not necessary to correct a specific medical problem) all the time, and celebrities are at the forefront of this. McCarthy has had both plastic surgery and Botox, both of which carry their own medical risks, which are well documented.

vince said...

Yeah, my grammar and sentence construction sucked. This whole subject just pisses me off so much.

Claudia said...

Did you know that Green Card applicants have to get an MMR shot from an USCIS certified doctor in order to have the application processed?

There is no way to avoid that, even if you can prove that you just had the MMR shot half a year before (which I did, incidentally, my rubella titer being one of the stranger things on this planet), or blood work shows your antibodies. You want the GC, you get the shot.

I'm of two minds about that. I understand the necessity, and understand the incident of bribing officials. On the other hand, I don't like being poked twice for the same thing within six months or so.

But mostly, my point is - you can force GC applicants to do that but have Jenny McCarthy on TV? Crazy times.

Claudia said...

Also, having kids who are prone to stomach bugs and who have at various times been hospitalized or severely dehydrated or lost 10% body mass in the course of some hours, I did not hesitate one moment to have Leah vaccinated for Rota virus.

Rota Teq is expensive, and yes I know that it only covers Rota but not any of the other stomach viruses but you know what? Leah hasn't had a single vomiting bug evah. That's a record in this family. My only regret is that it had not been available for my first three kids.

In our house, Dr. Offit is a hero.

Claudia said...

One more comment, and then I go to bed: Offit's book "Vaccinated" is great. Now I have to buy his new one, just to be difficult.

WendyB_09 said...

Crap, they're everywhere. Like an infestation of roaches. Need a giant can of RAID.

The antivaxxers were out in front of the CDC here in Atlanta today. Looked like a bunch of idiots in their white biohazard suits. Complete with hoods, gloves, masks and bullhorns. Guess they didn't want anyone to know who they were.

Today they were protesting the use of thimerosal in both the current seasonal and H1N1 flu vaccines. Medical use of thimerosal has been around for years and has been proven safe. Anyone that's been wearing contact lenses will tell you that, and it was not that long ago that lens solutions and cleaner still contained it.

I strongly suspect McCarthy and her rabid followers all used contact solutions with thimerosal over the years and their eyes haven't fallen out yet. Didn't see anyone giving up contact lenses because of it either.