imgresFrank Bruni wrote a piece in the NYX this past Sunday titled The Vaccine Lunacy.  I love his editorials but this one was so spot on and the title in itself says it all.

I have written about this topic before.  Why has mostly an upper middle class group of educated people made the decision that it is ok not to vaccinate their children?  Are they not clued in on history?  Are they oblivious to the reasons that vaccinations exist?  Is it the fear of autism although if you look at the odds vs how many people get immunized it is almost nil.  Is it an attitude of I can do whatever I want.  I am a crazy overbearing parent who is so entitled that I can choose whatever I want for my child?  I could continue forever but I will take a breather.

I honestly do not know the answer but there has been an outbreak of measles recently in California that has spread to other parts of the country because of people not immunizing their children.  I can’t help myself but rant on this one.

There was a tweet that I retweeted over the weekend that I thought was appropriate.  If my kid can’t bring peanut butter to school, yours shouldn’t be able to bring preventable diseases.  

When you take your kids to school they make you have all your medical records on file at the school or your child can not attend.  I believe that some people might get a pass from a doctor for “religious beliefs” in regards to not getting their kid immunized.  If your kid isn’t immunized then you should be forced to home school them.  It is not ok to expose the rest of the world to these parents insanity.  Their kids will eventually grow up and most of them will realize that they have left them exposed to diseases that should have been wiped off the planet a long long time ago.

Comments (Archived):

  1. Pranay Srinivasan

    How is this even a debate? Immunization shouldnt even be optional. It should be mandatory!

    1. Gotham Gal

      I agree.

  2. Yinka!

    Hear, hear! This is one issue that leaves me puzzled as to why anybody is allowed to opt out. It should be compulsory for every child to receive the core group of vaccines, along with serious legal consequences for those who refuse. Anybody who disagrees should consider moving to some other planet. How does it compute as better odds to risk your child’s wellbeing and life to avoid a demonstrably non-existent risk? And why should others (e.g. newborns too young to get vaccine and much older people) have their lives risked because some individuals choose to explore short-circuited logic?This issue stretches my last nerve.

    1. Gotham Gal

      Totally agree.Ian McEwan’s last book, the Children Act, is about something similar. Parents who are anti-treatment for religious reasons make decisions for their 17 year old. He eventually sees them as not the wisest decisions. Worth the read.

      1. Yinka!

        Thanks, I will check it out.

  3. bsoist

    The problem is simple – we live in a culture that is scientifically illiterate. Some adults believe that dinosaurs never existed, we shouldn’t be surprised others don’t vaccinate.I hate to be “that guy” but I do need to point out that peanut butter is lethal to some children.

    1. JLM

      .I once almost killed a US Congressman who inquired too late if the Thai salad dressing had peanuts in it. It did.His wife administered a shot and then he was sent to the local hospital returning when dessert and coffee were being served — neither of which had peanuts in them.A party is not a party until someone spills a drink, someone falls into the pool, a fight is started, the police are called or, now — an attempt is made on a Congressman’s life via food allergy.Peanut allergies are deadly. Absolutely deadly.BTW, if I had killed him I would likely have considered running for his seat. Opportunity missed?JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

      1. bsoist

        BTW, if I had killed him I would likely have considered running for his seat. Opportunity missed?Wow! I’ve grown to expect these kind of surprises in your deadlyMy daughter was driving in drivers education class and the teacher whipped out a PB&J sandwich and started asking the girls about it while eating. The girl in the back seat finally spoke up and said “Becky is allergic to peanuts”The teacher’s “solution” ( after “joking” with her by waving it in her face ) was to roll down the windows so he could finish it ( it was certainly <40 degrees that day ).Fortunately, peanut butter nearby doesn’t bother her a whole lot ( humus and peanuts in the shell do). If she accidentally eats it ( which she has done ), it’s bad news.

        1. JLM

          .Peanut and other allergies are not something to mess with. They can be deadly.The Congressman was a good guy but he did look like a guy with his hand on death’s door. It did make the party quite memorable.JLM.

      2. LE

        I think if I was that allergic I wouldn’t simply trust someone’s answer to a question like that actually.

        1. JLM

          .I suspect that a Congressman’s advance team briefs hosts and hostesses about food allergies. Caterers routinely post information as to the presence of peanuts in food.In this instance, he was not expected and dropped in unexpectedly though he had been invited. The meal had already started when he sat down.He was also likely hungry.Peanut allergies are also apparently cumulative — they get worse with the accumulation of toxins — over time.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

  4. Laura Yecies

    I read this on a blog and thought it was spot on “I get so frustrated when parents say, “This is a personal decision we are making for our family.” It’s not. Unlike the epic debates about co-sleeping vs. sleep training or formula vs. breastmilk, this is one of the only parenting decisions that actually effects everybody. It is not a personal decision, it is a public health decision, and I don’t think we can be reminded of that enough. Your choice to take the risk that your kid can ride out a case of the measles unscathed means you are making that choice for dozens of other people your child comes in contact with. “

    1. Laura Yecies 🙂

    2. Gotham Gal

      Good piece. It is incredibly selfish.

  5. Nichole

    I believe that there is unreasonableness on both sides. I am a new mom of a 6 month old and I was floored to learned about all the vaccines that they recommend pumping into a baby’s body. For example, Hep B. I know my baby is not having sex or injecting drugs, so I don’t think that Hep B is necessary. I understand the desire to wipe Hep B off the planet, but injecting babies is going too far. I’ve lived in rural Africa and have been injected by nearly all the vaccines out there and one of my best friends has polio, so I am not opposed to them. Yet, I am also aware that not every recommended vaccine is necessary and not at such a young age. I’ve opted for an alternative schedule that limits the amount of mercury (trace amounts) my baby gets in one month and adjusts the calendar based on risk (i.e. not going to vaccinate her for Polio until she is 1). I think the growing unreasonableness of the amounts of vaccines is part of the reason that there is a back-lash. That, and an ignorance of our history.

    1. Yinka!

      Consider the following:Mercury is a used as a preservative in vaccines and contrary to speculation, scientific studies have shown that there is NO evidence that it cause or triggers conditions like autism in children.A skim of the Wikipedia pages (and linked supporting evidence) on HepB and polio show that HepB is also transmittable via blood transfusions, related blood products, and contact with open skin/mucous membrane with secretions /saliva from infected people. While sexual activity and injected drug use are the most common modes of transmission in adults, at least 30% of cases are via other, non-identifiable means. Correspondingly, Polio is highly infectious and in 90-95% cases, there are no symptoms to alert you beforehand.There are very sound reasons for why certain vaccinations are recommended at birth (or soon after) as the best course of prevention. Unless backed by new scientific discovery and endorsed by national health bodies, I cannot see how it makes sense to risk a child’s health by refusing vaccination at the recommended schedule.

      1. Nichole

        Mercury may not cause autism, by why load a newborn with it when the vaccines can be administered later? Many (not all) vaccines on a baby’s vaccination schedule are less about risk to the individual and to society and more about administrative difficulties getting vaccines to older patients (hey entrepreneurs – potential business solution out there?). Polio is highly infectious, but the odds that a newborn in the US with no siblings and who has a nanny is going to get it by the age of 1 is extremely low. The most dangerous thing we expose our babies to is putting them into the backseat of a car. But we still do it. Is there risk involved with not giving a baby a polio vaccine at birth? Yes. But of all the risks that I expose my child to, it is the lowest of the low. And please note, that I am not anti-vaccine. I am pro reasonableness. For example, I agree that if you don’t vaccinate your child for measles, they should be home-schooled.

        1. Yinka!

          Others with similar reasoning recently refused measles vaccines for their kids and look where we are today: Ongoing measles outbreaks, over 50 years after the vaccine was created, with 102 cases in the US within this January alone. Homeschooling is neither here nor there as school is just 1 of many areas where infected people can come in contact with others.Personal preferences should not overrule the potential well-being of others.

          1. Nichole

            Refusing a vaccine and altering a vaccination schedule are two different things.

          2. Gotham Gal

            very true.

          3. Yinka!

            I agree. To clarify, I consider delaying as temporarily refusing and I was trying to point out that that window of time (between recommended vaccine date and future date) constitutes the same health risk (especially for the unvaccinated, newborns, elderly).

  6. Tom Evslin

    NOT vaccinating is a dangerous form of freeloading on those who do vaccinate. Disregarding the nonsensical autism study, every pin prick has some risk. So in a totally selfish world, if you can count on everyone else getting their kids vaccinated, your kids won’t be exposed; so it would “rational” on a totally selfish basis to avoid having them vaccinated even if the risk of the vaccination is minimal. But because vaccinations aren’t 100% effective and because some people can’t be vaccinated for medical reasons, your unvaccinated kid is an unacceptable risk to the general population.One of government’s main justifications for compulsion is avoiding having people make totally selfish decisions – avoiding taxes, avoiding the draft when there was one, driving too fast etc. etc. So it is not only legitimate but required for government to insist on vaccination as condition of being in many public settings.I think of myself as a libertarian but this, to me, is a textbook example of beyond the limits of personal choice.

    1. Gotham Gal

      it should be illegal not to vaccinate your children.

      1. pointsnfigures

        I wouldn’t go that far-but keeping them out of public schools is certainly possible. Non-vaccinated families would have to pay to send their children to private schools. As long as they were willing to bear the costs….

        1. JLM

          .All the private schools I ever sent my children to had very extensive shot requirements.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

          1. pointsnfigures

            Me too. There is home schooling if the parents are that committed. I don’t agree with not vaccinating. BTW earlier I said 1% may be affected by vaccines. I was wrong. WSJ has a nice takedown on their editorial page today

      2. JLM

        .Criminalizing medical behavior is unlikely to be a good idea as it will bring the crazies front and center. Better might be to just offer them for free.In ATX, there are a bunch of free flu shots and each year the number of folks who avail themselves increases by a meaningful percentage.The President’s picture of getting his flu shot is very effective leadership. This is leadership by example.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

        1. LE

          I don’t think that money is the issue here at all.

  7. Susan Rubinsky

    I suspect the underlying issue is a common thread, the rights of the individual over the rights of the community, that now runs rampant through our country, effecting all public policy. Libertarians are the chief champions of this movement. People have somehow come to believe that their individual rights trump the rights of the community. Both liberal and conservative individual rights have benefited from this movement. Some liberal movements that have befitted from this are: gay marriage and legalization of marijuana. A conservative movement that has benefited from this is: gun/ammunition ownership.Other movements have been transmogrified into movements that lack logic. Some examples of this are: vaccination, ebola, fracking, birth control, climate change/global sea rise, transportation/transit, etc.*I predict that global sea rise is the one event that will get the individual rights people to unite for the greater good, only because it is now effecting almost everybody’s backyards. People in the Midwest will lag in joining the movement. I don’t know one conservative who lives on the coast who does not “believe” in climate change.(Disclaimer: I consider myself a Libertarian, however there are right wing ones [tea party] and there are left wing ones; I am a left wing one. I also am willing to find a moderate balance between my individual rights and the rights of the community.)

    1. Gotham Gal

      (Disclaimer: I consider myself a Libertarian, however there are right wing ones [tea party] and there are left wing ones; I am a left wing one. I also am willing to find a moderate balance between my individual rights and the rights of the community.)Phew.

      1. Susan Rubinsky

        Here is a chart. I just made this up off the top of my head, so it’s not a formal analysis.

        1. Susan Rubinsky

          Birth control is a weird one: the right wing people have tried to turn it into a “rights of the community vs the rights of the individual (woman)” argument, which I why I placed it where it is.

          1. JLM

            .The birth control issue for conservatives is only a fiscal matter.I personally want liberals to control the creation of more children to the maximum extent possible. [Bit of tongue with that cheekiness.]I just don’t want to have to pay for it. It is not a health issue.I can even be persuaded that birth control is the common ground in the abortion wars. Let’s not create children that have to be killed seems to be an elegant solution.I hold the same position on the applicability of health insurance to Viagra and old convertibles.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

          2. LE

            Let’s just put ass on table here and plant the “creation of more children” issue firmly in the hands of the catholic church!Has gotten to the point that even the Pope has decided to issue a memo on it:Pope Francis, after a visit to the largest Catholic nation in Asia, says Catholics may have a moral responsibility to limit the number of their children and need not reproduce “like rabbits.”…Of course this is not limited to Catholics any of those 3rd world middle east countries has the same shit going on dates back to biblical times. Just eat pita bread and rice.We have a few relatives that have 4 kids. Husband works at some corporate job drives a beat up car they never seem to have enough money. Well, you decided to have 4 kids not 2 kids your decision.Unfortunately as you know what’s amazing is on health plans they count Mother, Father and 1 kid the same as Mother, Father and 7 kids. All has to do with the “life” movement.

          3. JLM

            .Your coarse reference to Catholic doctrine is not correct. For a half century, the Church has universally held the position that the creation of children is a duty to be managed by its communicants.Remember, we are talking the Irish and the Italians cultures.Pope Francis is not plowing new ground here. Catholics have always had a moral responsibility to plan their families and to support them.The only issue has always been one of methodology.Birth rates in predominantly Catholic countries have been trimmed a bit including even countries like Mexico wherein the birth rate is 17/1000 as opposed to 23/1000 in 2000.The US is on the other end of the spectrum wherein the combination of abortion — 55,000,000 since Roe V Wade in 1973 — and declining rates of birth have worked to dampen population growth.With a country of 320MM +/- — and perhaps another 20MM illegals — the rate of aborted children is a stupendous figure purely from a demographic perspective dwarfing almost all other forms of death or population impact.Culturally — as an example in black families — some subsegments have been impacted as much as 50%. Half of black babies in the US are aborted.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

          4. LE

            True unscientific triangulation on my part but I stand behind it. [1] Beside if no truth wouldn’t be any reason for the Pope to make that statement, right?In Philly going thing was that poor families had more babies because that way they got more welfare payments from the government.Look, truth is that there is a push to just have kids w/o recognizing that they have to be paid for and that everything will just work out.[1] Some or many Orthodox Jews do the same shit by the way. They live in Monsey NY and pump out 10 kids and live in poverty.

          5. JLM

            .The Pope is infallible when opining on matters of faith and doctrine. He is a just a man when filling out his Final Four bracket.The Pope did a very bad job in World War II in dealing with the Nazis, as an example.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

        2. JLM

          .Let me throw “polar bears” into the mix. They have rights, no?JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

    2. JLM

      .You have a most interesting view of things. A couple of tidbits.The founding of our country is based almost exclusively on the rights of the individual v the duties of the state. We are a nation of individual rights. Not by accident, but by design. Can you find a single right that is granted to groups other than the government? [Perhaps the right of assembly but even that is an individual right.]The entire issue of guns is grounded in the Constitution. It is perhaps the single subject that you discuss that is not really open to debate. One may debate the administration of the right but the right itself? Not really debatable.Luckily the Founding Fathers laid out a clear path to modify the Constitution. It will be a serious debate when someone calls for a Constitutional Convention.BTW, Texas is at an all time high in gun ownership and an all time low in murders. About half of my CHL refresher course were women. A few of them could really shoot. Not a single one of them failed the marksmanship part but a couple of men did.There is nothing as inspiring and equalizing as a woman with a gun particularly one who knows how to shoot it. In some parts of the country, guns are just like hammers used to kill coyotes and snakes.The total climate change discussion (ne global warming) circles around a 1 degree F change in temperature over a hundred years during a period of time that the accuracy of thermometers did not even begin to approach that deviation.The “rise of the oceans” in the same time period is less than the thickness of a single piece of copy paper. Again, not really measurable that ocean being such a dynamic target with the waves and all that.The Tea Party is not a Libertarian organization. Not even close. The TP is focused on such radical ideas as a balanced budget, entitlement reform, fiscal prudence (not a character in a Tom Wolfe novel), deficit reduction, the size of government and very specific and discrete subjects.Want a taste of the TP, go to their Steamboat Springs super secret meeting. Once they run through their agenda of topics, they are just wine snobs.Libertarians have a tendency to be focused on broad concepts — as you have clearly articulated. Much of it is the same on both ends of the spectrum.Personally, I love our country and I do not trust our government. That’s why I want it small. I trust you. I sort of trust me. I don’t trust the government.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

      1. Susan Rubinsky

        Interesting thoughts. Don’t have time to respond to all your points now, due to the fact that my furnace went this morning….But, the arguments don’t mean anything, unless you are asking me to correct where a dot sits on the grid (because I didn’t really conduct a formal analysis — was just creating this quickly to illustrate a point about where the anti-vaccinators stand and then comparing it with a few other issues). For each issue, the key questions are:Is the position on this issue for the good of the community or for the good of the the individual?AndIs the position on this issue a liberal one or a conservative one?Then you place the dot accordingly.What the constitution says doesn’t matter for this grid, this grid is just about understanding the positioning of an issue. It also doesn’t really matter what science says either, what matters is the reality that faces people and communities today and in the coming years.So, for example, a community on the coast of Long Island Sound (or, Micronesia, for example, where whole islands are now underwater, dislocating thousands of people) wouldn’t care about your “fact” about sea rise because the people there have all seen their communities negatively impacted by sea rise and want to develop mitigation/alternate solutions.If you go to Greenwich, CT, and ask the richest conservative guys who owns waterfront property if there is an issue with sea rise effecting the region, he’s going to say “Absolutely.” But you can’t solve a problem until you recognize that there is a problem. It doesn’t matter what political party you identify with, just that you recognize the problem and then are willing to collaborate with others to solve it.

        1. JLM

          .Bad deal on the furnace. I know it’s cold up there so here’s hoping you get and stay warm.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

          1. Susan Rubinsky

            Thanks for the well wishes. Furnace is now fixed 🙂

  8. Mario Cantin

    Measles as well as bed bugs should never have made a comeback.

  9. Shripriya

    I think it has to extend beyond schools, Joanne. The unvaccinated kids go to playgrounds, malls, doctor’s offices and they put children too young to be vaccinated at risk. They also put pregnant women at risk (bc 97% post-vaccination immunity is not 100%).I find it ludicrous. They are using herd immunity to protect their kids, but exposing everyone else by lowering herd immunity.I think the law has to be changed that all kids who reside in the state have to be vaccinated. Only medical exemptions signed by two doctors. Otherwise, the kids will be vaccinated by the state and the parents could face jail time. Is that severe? Perhaps, but this is child endangerment.India just saw its last case of Polio thanks to the Gates Foundation. How ironic is it that it may resurface in the US?

    1. Gotham Gal

      I am a liberal but I agree with you. Nothing is too severe when it comes to this issue.

      1. Shripriya

        Oh, I’m a liberal too. But I feel public health is not a liberal or conservative issue. And there is no debate in the scientific community on how to achieve this.

    2. LE

      Only medical exemptions signed by two doctorsHopefully that will work better than handicap parking tags..

  10. Linda T.

    It is not always as easy a decision as you make it out to be. I watched a beautiful, talking , playful 2 year old regress into a nonverbal, non sleeping, autistic child in a period of four months. That was 18 years ago. He has not spoken since and has very poor life skills despite having the best therapists etc that are available. No one has ever been able to give us an answer to what happened. There still is no answer as to what is causing this autism epidemic (1 in 56 boys). There are many theories but no answers.When I decided to risk having a second child I could not bear the thought of knowing that something I did may cause this to happen again. I did not vaccinate him until he was five years old. He is absolutely fine (and the healthiest kid you can imagine). I am not saying that vaccines caused my older son to be autistic. I am only saying not to be so quick to judge people who question the vaccine schedule. They may have gone through a hell that you were very lucky to have avoided.

    1. Gotham Gal

      I just find it hard to believe that the vaccinations cause Autism. People have been vaccinated for years without any of these issues. Why not is it directly pinpointing to those shots.

      1. Linda T

        I am not saying they do cause autism. Until someone finds out what does cause it (and they are years away from this) everything in our environment is questionable. More than likely autism is caused by a genetic predisposition to being vulnerable to an environmental trigger. What gene, what trigger who knows? To complicate it further there are many types of autism that all probably have their own cause.

      2. Yinka!

        They don’t. The causes of autism may still be subject to debate but research from various international health organizations (CDC, NHS, IOM, etc) concluded (as early back as 2004) that there is no evidence that MMR vaccine causes autism.

      3. pointsnfigures

        There may be problems with 1% of the population-but genetically you’d think you’d be able to test for that.

  11. WA

    Remember the Ruebella Umbrella? That was a great marketing campaign I remember from childhood…hmm…

  12. F. Whyte

    Hear, hear!I was a young’un before rubella was part of regular vaccination for children. I had an ‘uneventful’ infection as a 5 year old. It ruined the enamel on my adult molars, and I’m still having dental work to manage it. Now, kids don’t have to go through that or worse.I’m also the parent of a childhood cancer survivor and I’ve spent time around children undergoing chemotherapy and bone marrow transplants. These children need the help of the community to protect them from illnesses that might be minor for other children but fatal for them. For these kids, even a runny nose is enough to cancel the most important of events (like a dying child’s last chance to see Mickey Mouse).From my point of view, not vaccinating (without a valid medical reason) is simply irresponsible and selfish. I fear that those who choose not to vaccinate will not be swayed by science or logic or even an appeal to their community-mindedness. They have made a decision and nothing will change that.I’d actually like to know why parents make this choice. Is it fear? Celebrity-induced misinformation syndrome? Would scientific information change things? I’d like to hope so.I totally understand the urge to regulate and just stifle the debate, but that’s not really the spirit of a free society, is it?

    1. Gotham Gal

      nothing is purely a free society.

  13. pointsnfigures… I like this tweet too! I believe that parent’s ought to be able to choose for their children. The problem is the parents that are choosing not to vaccinate are believing junk science. It’s almost cult like and no amount of rational argument will cause them to think differently.In Sept-Nov of 1986, Mumps swept through the floor of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. I had been vaccinated when I was a kid-but I still had a reaction. One side of my face swelled up huge. Another buddy of mine looked like a gopher even though he was vaccinated. There were some people on the floor that hadn’t been vaccinated. They came down with the mumps and it was pretty bad for them. Mumps can make men sterile if you are not careful.

  14. LE

    This of course, back in the day, was never an issue obviously. Not only that my mother was a big “rule follower” to boot. Recently she gave me all of my immunizations records which she had kept. [1] (Attached record).[1] Of course she threw out all my darkroom negatives which I prefer she has seen some value in…

    1. ShanaC

      Actually this is important, some adults need to be reimmunized according to the cdc