Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Vaccinations and Insanity

I support Amy Wallace:

Perhaps the aspect of this so-called "debate" that I find most fascinating and frustrating is its lack of pre-existing platform. Eg., it's not a conservative versus liberal or Republican versus Democrat or northern versus southern kind of debate. There is no pattern of irrationality to be discerned - just one, single, stupid, fucking, poisonous, pandemic idea that is grasped by some and ridiculed by others.

The foundation problem, as I see it, is that when parents find out that something is wrong with their child, they need to find someone to blame - some semblance of control they can regain over their lives. That someone to blame can't be themselves, not entirely. And random bouts of unfairness in life is just an unacceptable idea - surely there must be a REASON!

I've mentioned before in my blog how I feel about yuppie, child-worshipping, paranoid, Lysol wipe-obsessed parents. Did I forget to say selfish? My bad.

Parents nowadays have this irrational fear of germs and dirt. It is selfish. They don't want their children to get sick. Of course this doesn't sound selfish at the outset, who wants to see a little one feeling miserable? But if you try to save your child from being sick as a child when they can stay home and be cared for by an adult, they WILL spend much of their adult life being sick instead because you never let their immune system develop. And I think that's selfish. And it's all about control.

You cannot control anything in this life except for your own behavior. If your child is autistic, there is a pretty good goddamn chance that there was nothing you or anyone else could have done to prevent it. We don't know yet what causes autism - shit, there is still debate over what, exactly, autism IS. But if you begin with major distrust of the medical community that is trying to help you, how can we ever make progress toward understanding, treating, and preventing autism?

But beyond that - you have no right to endanger my life or the life of my children because of your personal beliefs in celebrity tales of woe. How many children have to die? How many is ENOUGH for you before you realize that you are playing with fire? If Jenny McCarthy believed her child was strangled by swimmies, would you throw your child into the pool without them and hope they learn how to swim really quickly?

The utter lack of common sense in this country right now is staggering. This whole belief that correlation equals causation, the lack of understanding of how probabilities work - are so many of you really that uneducated? Do we need to start a mandatory statistics and probability course for adults in this country?

Why does everything have to have that flavor of hysteria?

Less than an hour from now I will be getting the H191 vaccine. I originally had no intention of getting it, because I was more concerned about making sure the most vulnerable populations had the vaccine available to them. And, I won't lie, I had some concerns about the safety of it, given how quickly the FDA approved it and sent it to market.

But my job requires me to spend a lot of time in schools across my state. And several of them have closed down recently due to H191 breakouts in which huge numbers of kids were sick with the virus. I am also 8 weeks pregnant. That fact combined with my job puts me in an extremely high risk group. When I started to see that the virus had come to my neighborhood and then found out I was pregnant, it was no longer a question of "if" - it was a question of "when."

It is my responsibility to make sure my baby (even if it is the size of a raspberry) is as safe and healthy as possible, and sometimes you need the numbers game in order to make that decision. But in order to do that, you have to make sure you know what the numbers mean. When the virus was in Mexico, I wasn't worried about it. But when it came to New England and started hitting hard, the minute risk became justified.

All you can ever do is make the best decision you can using the information that is available to you at the time. Moms smoked and drank and did god knows what else while pregnant right up until the 90's. The vast majority of us were born healthy and turned out just fine. Does that mean it's okay or safe to smoke and drink while pregnant now? (I wish.) No, and the Pregnancy Police will be sure to point out every reproductive felony you commit, rest assured.

The point is that your unvaccinated children are dying. And you are risking the infection of children who are not yours. Do you really want to send the message that a dead child is better than an autistic child?

Because that, my dear readers, is fucked up no matter which way you try to spin it.


Becca said...

1) Pregnancy Police = goatfuckers.
2) Pregnant women aren't considered a high risk group because of their raspberry babies, but because the immunological changes that occur during pregnancy making the women susceptible. In other words, it's mostly to benefit you. You can still feel virtuous for stopping the spread in the schools you work in though.
3) Quibble- it's not H191, it's H1N1 (for hemagglutinin 1, neuraminidase 1)
4) On the 'saving your children from getting sick is selfish' thing. First, there are some illnesses that have much more severe long term immunological implications if they are contracted in childhood vs. adulthood (granted, for others it's the reverse, and I doubt most parents think much about the distinction). Moreover, I hope little raspberry never gets sick while you are sick and keeps you up for days at a time with pitiful crying/coughing/sneezles. Even mild respiratory illnesses like colds are pretty miserable in newborns. It's not rational to expect Lysol to solve it all, but I can't blame people for trying.
5) Yes, we need mandatory statistics/probability education. But then no one would play the lotto, and the public school funding would suffer in many states, and we'd end up worse off.
6) All that notwithstanding, Yay! for getting your vaccine. And BOOO to people who are afraid of it for irrational reasons. The stupid it burns.

Professor in Training said...

Agreed. I've also had the H1N1 vaccine to protect not only myself but others with whom I come into contact. Pretty much the same reasons why I've had every other vaccine available.

Ambivalent Academic said...

Amen. I'm getting the vax as soon as my employer makes it available to tier II employees (i.e., non-patient-contact, or me). If I ever have kids they will also be getting their childhood vaccines. Because whooping cough sucks ass, can be fatal, autism is caused by something other than vaccines and most importantly, unlike measles, mumps, or rubella, autism is not contagious. All that other shit is.


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