August 21, 2008
Suffer, Little Children

What’s needed here is a vaccine for stupidity. From Reuters:

WASHINGTON (Reuters) — Parents refusing to have their children vaccinated against measles have helped drive cases of the illness to their worst levels in a dozen years in the United States, health officials reported on Thursday…

“Of the 95 patients eligible for vaccination, 63 were unvaccinated because of their or their parents’ philosophical or religious beliefs,” the CDC said…

Outbreaks of measles are being reported now in Israel, Switzerland, Austria, Italy and Britain among people who are declining the vaccine.

British health officials said in June that measles had again become endemic for the first time since the mid-1990s due to parents declining to get their children vaccinated.


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Posted by Jerome Doolittle at August 21, 2008 02:24 PM
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I'm not sure what they mean by "philosophical" beliefs. But many people are naturally suspicious of the drug industry because of the many harmful drugs that have put out on the market in the past. Most recently the COX3 drugs - Vioxx being the best example. And who can forget the Thalidomide disaster in Great Britain that was only prevented in the United States by a competent regulator who was beholden to industry in no way, shape or form and beyond reproach. I don't think anyone who has read much about the FDA - what the Republican party, and to a lesser extent, the Democratic party have done to the FDA - can't be somewhat skeptical about some of the medical claims of many of the medications that are now common prescription drugs. (or prescribed "off label")

But there is some controversy about the combined MMR vaccine. See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MMR_vaccine_controversy

Personally I think autism is seriously over-diagnosed in the United States and I base that on competent studies that have come out of Scandinavia and in my opinion, the overly diagnosed problem of attention deficit disorder.

When we moved into our last home here in PA, both of our next door neighbors had a child who was diagnosed as autistic. I realize that's apocryphal and not a competent basis to make such a judgment on what might or might not be an epidemic, but that does seem oddly coincidental. I know one of the neighbors did claim that the vaccine was the cause of the child's problem.

But I think your point was probably that many people don't have their children vaccinated because of religious beliefs because they don't believe in science. That is most definitely a real problem. George Bush has fueled this kind of ignorance even further. (sorry, I just can't help taking a verbal swipe at Bush when I get the chance).

Posted by: Buck on August 21, 2008 4:39 PM

One of the reasons people are not having their children vaccinated any more is they don't know or remember the deseases because they've never seen them.

My mother fell ill with polio when there wasn't any vaccine yet. She was very lucky that only one thumb remained partly paralysed, but it effectively put an end to her career as a concert pianist.

Still, I'm the only one of my generation I know who has ever seen a polio case. If the desease is only a word to you, the very small risk of vaccination suddenly may seem like a real threat.

Posted by: Peter on August 22, 2008 11:39 AM

herd immunity.
that's the premise behind vaccinations, immunize the herd, spread out (minimize) the risks from vaccination across large numbers and maximize the benefits. this sea change among parents not to vaccinate is part and parcel of the overall trend to abandon the concept of community and retreating into me-my-mine. civic disengagement a la "bowling alone."

Posted by: twobears on August 22, 2008 1:18 PM

My youngest brother (now 68) was born autistic before the condition had a name. He is a gifted painter but can hardly talk and has been institutionalized since the age of six. This doesn't make me an expert on autism, but it does make me somebody who keeps up. It's beyond doubt that autism has exploded worldwide. It was a rarity when Mickey was born; now it afflicts one out of every 166 births.

It seems very likely that something in the environment has triggered the epidemic. It seems certain that the something is not vaccine. Anguished parents and relatives will seize on anything, and obviously I sympathize with them. This latest business is based on a suspicion thimerol, a preservative used in many vaccines, is the cause. The flimsy basis for this is that autism typically manifests itself at just about the same age at which kids receive immunization shots. But thimerol was removed from vaccines years ago, and autism keeps going up. The continuing uproar about the vaccine/autism link, in my unscientific opinion, just takes resources away from the search for the condition's real cause.

While I'm on the subject, a few of Mickey's hundreds of paintings are on view (and sale) at The IO Gallery in Cornwall Bridge CT: http://www.theiogallery.com/artists/outsider.php

Posted by: Jerry Doolittle on August 22, 2008 2:24 PM

Twobears, I'd agree with you except that there's no community in this country when it comes to taking care of a problem you-singular encounter. It's your problem and yours alone if you have a child with severe problems. If you can't work because your child needs care, there isn't even that bit of old-fashioned AFDC welfare anymore, and good luck on finding the medical care your child needs on Medicaid.

People have to minimize their risk on the flying trapeze of life when there's no safety net.

Posted by: Joyful Alternative on August 22, 2008 4:20 PM

i remember polio and the polio scares / girlfriend with polio / wore a brace / her dad was a colonel in the army / this was the 40's / she had swimming therapy at Walter Reed and she would take along some girlfriends / learned how to dive there !

when the vaccine came along i had a daughter and i was glad of the vaccine

meanwhile my daughter had measles when she was five, fifty years ago, and her best pal died of measles

now my daughter balks at even having the dogs vaccinated ! how odd

Posted by: Katherine Hunter on August 24, 2008 7:13 PM
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