Medieval McCarthy

Hal 11000 Beta is now two weeks old. He is in a very vulnerable time in his life, one of the most vulnerable. The reason is that he will not get his first dose of vaccines until he is two months old. I am counting down those days, hoping that he will not be exposed to something like whooping cough, a disease that can easily kill infants, in the next two months.

I shouldn’t have to be hoping this. Whooping cough and other childhood diseases had the daylights beat out of them in the 20th century. But thanks to research we now know to be completely bogus and a combination of ignorance, conspiracy-mongering and idiotic naturalism, these diseases are on the rise:

Led by discredited doctors and, incredibly, a former Playmate, the [anti-vaccine] movement has frightened new parents with claptrap about autism, Alzheimer’s, aluminum, and formaldehyde. The movement that was once a fringe freak show has become a menace, with foot soldiers whose main weapon is their self-righteousness. For them, vaccinating their children is merely a consumer choice, like joining an organic food co-op or sending their kids to a Montessori school or drinking coconut water.

The problem is that it is not an individual choice; it is a choice that acutely affects the rest of us. Vaccinations work by creating something called herd immunity: When most of a population is immunized against a disease, it protects even those in it who are not vaccinated, either because they are pregnant or babies or old or sick. For herd immunity to work, 95 percent of the population needs to be immunized. But the anti-vaccinators have done a good job undermining it. In 2010, for example, only 91 percent of California kindergarteners were up to date on their shots. Unsurprisingly, California had a massive pertussis outbreak.

It would be an understatement to say that pertussis and other formerly conquered childhood diseases like measles and mumps are making a resurgence. Pertussis, specifically, has come roaring back. From 2011 to 2012, reported pertussis incidences rose more than threefold in 21 states. (And that’s just reported cases. Since we’re not primed to be on the look-out for it, many people may simply not realize they have it.) In 2012, the CDC said that the number of pertussis cases was higher than at any point in 50 years. That year, Washington state declared an epidemic; this year, Texas did, too. Washington, D.C. has also seen a dramatic increase. This fall, Cincinnati reported a 283 percent increase in pertussis. It’s even gotten to the point that pertussis has become a minor celebrity cause: NASCAR hero Jeff Gordon and Sarah Michelle Gellar are now encouraging people to get vaccinated.

How responsible are these non-vaccinating parents for my pertussis? Very. A study recently published in the journal Pediatrics indicated that outbreaks of these antediluvian diseases clustered where parents filed non-medical exemptions—that is, where parents decided not to vaccinate their kids because of their personal beliefs. The study found that areas with high concentrations of conscientious objectors were 2.5 times more likely to have an outbreak of pertussis. (To clarify: I was vaccinated against pertussis as a child, but the vaccine wears off by adulthood, which, until recently, was rarely a problem because the disease wasn’t running rampant because of people not vaccinating their kids.

Not vaccinating your kids because you’re afraid autism or evil big pharma is akin to throwing maidens down wells or burning witches to stop a drought. There is zero evidence that vaccines are dangerous. There is plenty that pertussis is. Watch this awesome demonstration by Penn and Teller.

The most frustrating thing? Since it was shown that Andrew Wakefield’s research linking autism to vaccine was completely fraudulent, the rate of vaccination in this country appears to have decreased. The luddites are winning.

Not vaccinating your kids doesn’t make you a rebel against The Man, an independent thinker, someone attuned to nature or one of the enlightened. It makes you a dangerous idiot.

Comments are closed.

  1. Seattle Outcast

    I had whooping cough as a child (I guess it rather common in corn country at the time), or at least my siblings had it and I was vaccinated – fuzzy on the details. However, a couple of years ago my doc gave me a booster during the outbreak, said that my childhood immunity had worn off a couple decades earlier.

    As somebody that travels commonly to third world countries in order to go diving, my vaccination record is something that rivals that of a SEAL. The number of major, killing diseases I’ve managed to avoid in my lifetime when I’m pretty certain I was exposed is higher than I like to think about, and I owe it all to getting vaccinated.

    What amazes me about these Luddites is that even when they lose a child due to not vaccinating, it doesn’t appear to make them reconsider their position. I’d be willing to categorize it as child abuse.

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  2. Nexus

    Vaccinations have been around a while but it’s only in resent years the autism rates have spiked. It’s now 1 in 88 kids. As the father of a 9 year old girl with ASD I’d love to know what is causing such a rapid rise in rates. But I don’t think vaccines are the culprit.

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  3. Seattle Outcast

    I’ve seen a number of reports that approach ASD as everything from environmental issues, prenatal chemistry, and better diagnosis.

    I have two nephews that show many signs, one diagnosed, and two friends that I’d put money on that being their primary issue in life. I really think that part of it is that we just used to call it “socially inept” and not recognize it as part of a larger issue.

    The vaccination blame game is a classic case of fraud for cash. Studies that attempted to reproduce the results showed that vaccination was statistically not a contributing factor. It would be like blaming sunshine or the tides.

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  4. InsipiD

    Better diagnosis is the obvious explanation. I think that it should be clear by now that overdiagnosis is probably starting to happen a lot, too. Today’s special ed programs are full of fully-diagnosed kids who are lazy and antisocial but who don’t have any cognitive problems. There’s a big difference between the truly disabled and the kid who has found out that being a prick becomes a way to coast. Ritalin and Adderall addictions have become the millstones of late 20th century upbringing that are carried into adult life. School sucks and being a kid isn’t always fun, but I can’t help but think that my teenage behavior problems would’ve found a diagnosis if I were just a few years younger, and it would be to my eternal detriment.

    How can the same world that gave us these amazing vaccines give us the paranoia of the anti-vaccine people and also the people who would have a chicken pox party?

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  5. AlexInCT

    Aren’t infants supposed to be blessed by their mother’s immune system for the first 6 months? I may have my biology wrong here, but I distinctly recall that being one of the awesome things that our immune system does.

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  6. Hal_10000 *

    Aren’t infants supposed to be blessed by their mother’s immune system for the first 6 months? I may have my biology wrong here, but I distinctly recall that being one of the awesome things that our immune system does.

    Sort of. But one of the problems is that adult immunity tends to be fade a bit. My wife and I got boosters before Hal 11000 Beta was born to help protect him.

    Also, my wife has recently been doing research into the epigenetic of autism. One of the things she has found is that autism can show up as early as a few weeks old (autistic babies tend not to focus on human faces the way non-autistic babies do).

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  7. AlexInCT

    Hal, I commend you on your instinct to protect your offspring, but want to caution you not to go overboard and miss out on all the positive side of the experience as well. Be vigilant, but also make the best out of that time. They grow up quick. Prevent what you can, but don’t get hung up on the details so much that you miss the fun stuff.

    Also, be wary of our feminized society which today is quick to label being a boy – high energy and rambunctious little people that think sitting all nice listening to adults ramble on about things they could care less about – as a dysfunction, and then try to medicate them into being little well behaved girls. I know way too many parents that simply didn’t have the desire, or energy, to deal with young boys, and let the powers that be medicate their kids, so they wouldn’t have to parent.

    And like CM pointed out: “titties are good for da baby”.

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  8. Miguelito

    One of the things she has found is that autism can show up as early as a few weeks old (autistic babies tend not to focus on human faces the way non-autistic babies do).

    Yeah, be careful of not letting over reactions lead down that over diagnosing path. I’ve got a friend through work who’s kid was showing “signs” at a few months old and their doctor was pushing them into doing all these tests and starting programs for autism and their reaction was along the lines of, “He’s a few months old and a tiny bit sluggish, maybe we should wait just a bit before over reacting.” Today he’s a completely normal 6 year old (I think 6).

    What kind of effect could doing tons of testing, acting different and perhaps even medications (for all we know) have had on a tiny baby?

    Then again, I’m the kind of person that tries to avoid using drugs unless absolutely necessary. I don’t even take NSAIDs unless I’m really sick or have a horrid headache that won’t go away. Sure seems like plenty if people will take anything a dr suggests for any reason without asking questions or asking for alternatives. What really blows me away are the people that’ll talk to a dr (or therapist) and take stuff that messes with your brain chemistry so easily. Most of that latter stuff seems to be mostly guesswork too.

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  9. Seattle Outcast

    What really blows me away are the people that’ll talk to a dr (or therapist) and take stuff that messes with your brain chemistry so easily. Most of that latter stuff seems to be mostly guesswork too.

    The list of stuff I’ve tried for neuropathic pain over the past 16 months is pretty long, and the list of side affects is even longer. Lyrica? worthless. Cymbalta? turns you into a moron. The stuff that works is most definitely bad for you in the long run. One of my docs (neurologist) treated pain like an intellectual concept – turned out he’s never needed anything more than a Tylenol, and didn’t give a crap if his patients were screaming in pain or not; he only prescribed two medications (neither one was actually a pain killer), and if they didn’t work he punted to another doctor.

    Felt like taking him out in the parking lot and kneecapping him with a .45 – sure, he’d be in a wheelchair for the rest of his life, but he’d be a far more compassionate doctor…..

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  10. Hal_10000 *

    Yeah, miguelito, I went down that road with my first. Every time she did something unusual, my wife would worry that it was some condition. Sometimes, the internet is a mixed blessing. When i was little, my dad took all the medical books out of the house so my mom wouldn’t freak out about every little thing.

    Alex, we luckily live in a very safe area so I can give the kids lot of freedom to run around. It’s quite hilarious to watch academic realize that there *are* differences between boys and girls.

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  11. Miguelito

    Sometimes, the internet is a mixed blessing. When i was little, my dad took all the medical books out of the house so my mom wouldn’t freak out about every little thing.

    hah.. someone’s comment on a friend’s fb feed the other day (when she asked a medical opinion):

    It was my best impersonation of WebMD… 75% it’s cancer or the Diabetes!

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  12. Ed Kline

    The study found that areas with high concentrations of conscientious objectors were 2.5 times more likely to have an outbreak of pertussis.

    I’m shocked that where there is a high concentration of people without immunizations, there are more people with the actual disease. The relevant question is, are they mostly the same people? Cause if it is, fuck em.

    . As the father of a 9 year old girl with ASD I’d love to know what is causing such a rapid rise in rates.

    For starters, pretty much no-one is diagnosed as being retarded ( or something like it) anymore, also rarely does anyone slip through the cracks undiagnosed as they often used to, and of course lastly, the spectrum has gotten so big that it has become as much about diagnosing a personality type as much as diagnosing a legitimate medical condition.

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  13. Mississippi Yankee

    Want to bet on how many illegal immigrants are up on their vaccinations?

    And as to the anti-vaccination Playboy bunny… how fucked up have you got to be for Jim Carey to walk out on you? At least they didn’t reproduce. Her offspring was from a former relationship.

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  14. CM

    Oh, I’m sure the scientific pro-vaccination consensus is made up of doctors who are all frauds, doing it as part of some grand political conspiracy.

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