Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Vaccination and Stupidity and Mommy Friends

Oh, good heavens.  The delay-vaccination-because-of-some-quack-book mom?  I thought her child had finally gotten his MMR.  But he hasn't.

Cue RAGE.

Although we haven't (yet) had measles in our county,  I have to wonder if her stupidity is endangering my baby- who is too young to be vaccinated for MMR.  Because, make no mistake about it, this is nothing but stupidity.  It's not based in fact, or research, or even the most tenuous understanding of epidemiology. It's based on the idea that a quack who wrote a book is apparently more informed than 40 years of data and CDC research.  You know, the CDC, that dangerously inexperienced batch of undereducated epidemiologists.  (Do you know how hard it is to get a job at the CDC?)

I think that the morons  people who think vaccines are dangerous suffer from one or more of several patently wrong misconceptions:

1) Vaccines are dangerous.
I won't even discuss this.

2) The diseases AREN'T dangerous.
This is based in complete ignorance of both history and reality, as far as I can tell.

3) Vaccines exist to prevent community harm and, hey, I don't feel altruistic.
This is true. Vaccines also exist to prevent Grandma from getting whooping cough from your toddler, to prevent YOUR baby from getting sick from MY toddler, and so on.  The vaccination schedule is, among other considerations, made up to maximize protection for both individuals and populations.  You are also legally required to have automobile liability insurance.  Life is tough.

4) If I don't immunize, my child won't get sick anyways.
I think it should only take a few minutes' reflection to realize why this won't work, especially when the opinion is widespread.  (Forty-three thousand cases of mumps? WTF??)

(For completely infuriating logical inconsistency, she also said the kid's had a mild rash for two days and she's going to the doctor tomorrow.   Urgent rash!!  Every medical professional's favorite.)

I'm having a really hard time reconciling my friendship with this person- who I have seen, on average, every week for two years- with the idea that she is actually quite stupid.  I can't just avoid her without making an entire new set of friends- and we're planning to almost-certainly move next summer.  I don't know what to do other than be filled with fury.

(Note: I will delete any comments suggesting that vaccines are horrible, terrible autism-causing unnecessary interventions, or that the MMR vaccine should in fact be delayed until age 3 in a healthy toddler.  See above regarding: WRONG.)

19 comments:

  1. I don't envy your position. My husband and I decided to actively avoid exposing our daughter to unvaccinated groups of kids.

    We know that at library story time, dance class, etc. there will be some proportion of unvaccinated kids. THere's not much we can do about that. It's a risk we will have to take and hope that the proportion is low enough that herd immunity will keep those kids protected.

    However, we've come across groups- entire mom's groups- populated with anti-vax moms/parents, and thus a slew of unvaccinated kids. Since a high local concentration of unvaccinated individuals is a recipe for an outbreak (and in all likelihood these parents socialize with other, like minded anti-vax families with unvaccinated kids), we choose not to participate/socialize/interact with such groups.

    I know my daughter could be exposed to stuff anywhere, but I'm not going to willingly put her in an easily avoidable situation that increases the likelihood she'll be exposed. Nor will my husband and I subject ourselves to cringing when they spew anti-vax bunk.

    Thankfully the groups we've come across that don't vax, we are happy to avoid and didn't have pre-existing relationships with.

    In your situation, since you've established the friendships/relationships, it would be hard to avoid.

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    1. Somehow, it being someone I know infuriates me more than random idiots at storytime. I largely avoid the unvaccinated- including a lot of crafty types I might otherwise enjoy- for the same reasons.

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  2. I know, anecdotes are worthless, scientifically speaking, but humans are woefully fond of them, so for what it's worth:

    I had measles as a child - you know, that mild, good-for-your-immune-system, no-big-deal disease MMR prevents? I was bedridden for FOUR WEEKS, developed secondary bronchitis which kept me coughing and wheezing for three more months (imagine if I'd been asthmatic?), and it permanently damaged my eyesight. I am the only one of my siblings who wears glasses to this day. So. Yeah. That went well.

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    1. Anonymous11:04 PM

      I love that.

      We are considering moving to an area which I have read has the most unvaccinated (and one assumes, under-vaccinated) kids in the country. My kids are as up to date as possible, but vaccinations are not 100% effective: I had the mumps as a kid, despite having received my MMR. Blarg.

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    2. Yep. When I feel like laying the guilt on thick, I talk about my immune-suppressed mother, who doesn't even show positive titers to diseases had herself, let alone to those she's been vaccinated for. I make sure to mention how dangerous it is for her to get sick, too.

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  3. Yeah, it's one of those points that I can't discuss without my head exploding. There is no "respecting others opinions"here

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    1. I try to remind myself that people truly believe these things, but inside my head, I'm shouting, BUT THEY'RE WROOOONG!!

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  4. Anonymous8:15 PM

    So in your two years of weekly experience with her, you haven't gotten the sense that she is stupid?

    I have lots of trouble with the AV folks, too. Some of their issues, I think, are also related to a concern that the medical field doesn't have our best interests in mind. I can understand the concern about that, but the arrogance that is required to believe that you are more knowledgeable than the vast majority of medical experts and epidemiologists is appalling.

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    1. Well, maybe, but I was trying to be all nice let's get along (not the judgmental bitch I tend to be) because our kids like each other....

      I agree that individual medical practitioners don't necessarily have one's best interests at heart, or the knowledge or judgment to make the best decisions, but seriously, the CDC is like the Consumer Reports of the disease world.

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  5. I see you might be friends with some of my extended family...vaccines are bad, but half taken courses of amoxicillin for viral infections are good.

    Sigh

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    1. It is to weep. I can say nothing else.

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  6. I would just like to say: What the hell happened in 2005? 43,378 cases of Mumps seems like something that maybe should have made the nightly news!


    As for the AV group. It's scary. I'm having a baby in 7 weeks and one of my fellow grad students (just finished her PhD actually in a biomedical field like myself) is anti-vaccines. She has twins that are 10 months old. She wants to start "playdates" with my newborn by the end of the summer so our kids can get to know each other. I have to figure out how to tell her she is nuts! I may lose this friendship which has been great for 6 years, but like you I just realized she may be quite stupid. Yet, she has a PhD and her fellow moms think that means she must know what she's talking about so now others are becoming AV too! sigh. And these are the educated????

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    1. Apparently really bad luck, mostly, plus an unholy combination of demographics, vaccine shortage, and no mandated mumps vaccination for a certain cohort.

      And yeah. The hell is wrong with your friend?

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  7. I love this post - I will cite it anytime I come across some complete idiot on the internet.

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  8. Unfortunately stupidity doesn't correlate well with either level of education or niceness. It's been a hard lesson to learn. I'm sorry that you have this situation and hope it resolves itself in some way that protects your kids from harm.

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  9. It's amazing how nice people can seem intelligent in many ways, and yet be so incredibly close-minded and unscientific when it comes to certain issues. I've already told you about my friend that thinks GE food is dangerous to eat! (Ok, I know there are some environmental issues, lack of seed genetic diversity, loss of heirloom types, etc, etc. But she thinks just eating it is worse than eating the pesticide-laden normal stuff. *sigh*)
    It would be hard to leave a group of friends that you've been seeing for two years. I'd have difficulty not arguing every time I saw the person, but you don't really want to upset the other mom-friends. Good luck with the bad situation!

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  10. This is probably a foolish thought, but I've encountered a certain type of anxious, easily-influenced mama who falls prey to bullshit but can in fact be realigned with reality, given the right kind of educated information. Who knows--maybe this person is susceptible to reason?

    I know, probably not. But maybe.

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    1. Some of them are, I think, but boy, does it require a gentle touch.

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