09 January 2009

Stupid and Selfish People: Medicines and Vaccinations

Let's start with stupididity.

Here in Germany, homeopathy is a multi-billion Euro industry. It was invented here, so perhaps that's why even insurance will often pay for it (although not as much as it once did). It is a ridiculous and stupid concept, basically operating in the same way as this true anecdote:

When I was in college, I bartended over the summer. (My Ivy even offered a non-credit Mixology class). The first time I made a martini for a real alcoholic, she sent it back: not dry enough. I dumped it and re-made it but I still used the same ice cubes and it was still "too wet". My manager re-made it, with a different shaker and new ice and I noted that she did not add any vermouth at all. She told me the old joke:"When making an extra-dry vodka martini, you just whisper "vermouth" three times over the ice." What the drinker wanted was chilled straight vodka and the belief that she was having "a mixed drink" rather than drinking the equivalent of the purest alcohol one can buy in New York.

That's homeopathy. You dilute an ingredient that may or may not be useful beyond any recognition beside existing in the same world, package it prettily in a sugar pill and container and prescribe it. It may actually succeed in doing something for an ignorant patient, due to the placebo effect.

I am actually good with giving stupid people sugar pills (it only works on those who believe in it) and hoping that it makes them better, my problem is with the disgusting profits made by the industry and paid in many cases by governmental insurance companies, as well as the people who actually make careers out of being "homeopaths" and waste their lives going to "homeopath colleges". They would be far better off taking a course in massage therapy and throwing in the homeopathy for free. By the way, I am not knocking herbal remedies here: those are actual, although perhaps dangerously uncontrolled, remedies.

Moving on to the type of stupidity that damages others in a terrible, perhaps life threatening way: not vaccinating children.

The German and I were at a convention in London last year that actually offered babysitting. We hadn't known that when we registered and that was actually the first weekend that we ever left the kids with the grandparents. When we arrived and saw the service, we were kicking ourselves for being separated from the kids. That is, until we saw next day in the convention newsletter that a child in babysitting had the measles and had exposed everyone there (as well as whoever else had come into contact with the children).

While standing in line for something the following day, we wound up discussing this behind the very parents who were responsible for their child exposing a swathe of perhaps extremely vulnerable (especially younger- babysitting went down to 12 months!) people to this quite dangerous disease. As we discussed how grateful we were that our kids weren't there, they turned around to tell us how terrible this was for them, how they had to take their kids to the grandparents (they were London residents!), how it had interfered with their lives.... I was apalled. This is becoming increasingly common in the UK and Europe. Europe is now exporting measles cases to the Third World. Measles is not a common cold. It caused 530,000 deaths in 2003. It is wrong and selfish and stupid for mis-educated, ignorant parents in the First world, who rely on a good system of health care and well nourished children to allow their children to survive to put the rest of the world at risk of death and birth defects.

I am not saying that I don't have serious concerns about giving too many vaccines at once, or about when there was thimerosal (to which I am violently allergic) in them (thimerosol is no longer in childhood vaccines and I make certain to check that they aren't old vaccines).

There are currently vaccines that are different in different areas of the world. When we arrived in Germany, I made certain that my children received the meningococcal vaccine that is not given in the US. But when they were born, I delayed the hep B until they were a month old because I didn't feel it was necessary that they have it at birth. I have pushed vaccinations when they were ill, I have split them and used only vaccines without thimerosal. But I would never dream of allowing my kids to be susceptible to terrible diseases and to destroy the herd immunity
which is all that protects the prgnant and immune suppressed and old and ill from a terrible death.

That's just plain stupid and I think the healthy non-immunized should not be allowed to co-exist and reap the benefits while destroying them. No schools (which is illegal and therefore would mandate immunization in the school age), no pubic venues, no public babysitting: live in enclaves until you can show a blood titer. Do you have better answers?


Adam said...

I too am puzzled by people who don't immunize their children.

Have you listed to the episode of This American Life that talks about this very subject? It's Ruining It for the Rest of Us, an excellent listen!

kenju said...

I watched Private Practice on TV lst night and one of the themes of the show was people who do not vaccinate. One child died from a severe case of the measles. I cannot believe people who think that not vaccinating is okay.

nhokkanen said...

I know a child whose gastrointestinal biopsies revealed vaccine-strain measles in lesions throughout. He was in excruciating pain, exhibiting posturing that psychologists called typical autism behaviors. Now with proper medical treatment -- antivirals, anti-inflammatories, nutritional supplements -- he is feeling much better and made cognitive gains.

Read the expert testimony in the U.S. Federal Omnibus Autism Proceedings. Read about the agony suffered by Michelle Cedillo after her MMR vaccine.

Look up the 2008 U.S. DHHS vaccine injury concession in the Hannah Poling case, also involving MMR injury. Her father is a Johns Hopkins neurosurgeon, and her mother is an ICU nurse and attorney.

Please open your minds to the sad, paradoxical reality that a product intended to improve health is having the opposite effect in many children. And please demand that the CDC and vaccine manufacturers stop skewing statistics and start examining these children's medical records to prevent further injuries.

No child should ever die of a vaccine-preventable disease, but also no child should be written off as collateral damage in the war on disease.

G in Berlin said...

Are you going to also consider that every
Court that has had to consider this claim before it,
or you have considered it in fact, has found that the
claim is so lacking in scientific merit that it should
not be even presented to a jury?
From your cited evidence. But I am not going to read 20,000 pages to discuss this here. I will say that it is obvious to even the smallest intellect that it is possible to, tragically,get the disease from the vaccine if a live attenuated vaccine is used. And if it's not (as is the current case with polio), then one is not as adequately protected and can get the actual disease (as I got a mild case of measles after receiving an inadequate measle vaccine as a child). But that case was not life threatening, which is the point of vaccination.

And yes, even if it were my child (and I can hardly bear the thought) that is why we have herd immunity, to protect the immune compromised, the ill, the pregnant, the organ transplant receivers: the individuals who will die if vaccinated must be the ones who are not vaccinated, not the healthy!

And being stupid doesn't mean that I must respect your beliefs if they put my child at risk.

nhokkanen said...

Society also protects people allergic to eggs, or allergic to Thimerosal, by excluding them from the "herd." Why can't the CDC prioritize testing to determine which children are predisposed to mitochondrial dysfunction, like Hannah Poling?

You don't seem to realize that people who CANNOT vaccinate their children are SCARED. They have the worst of both worlds. Yes, they want the "herd" to be vaccinated, but people with one autistic child in the family have done enough research to know they are playing genetic roulette.

Thereare no guarantees -- no consumer product warranties. If you lose the gamble, you get a lifetime of stress and financial hardship. The NVICP is a contentious boondoggle and state services are few.

How sad that you want quick and easy "straw man" conclusions rather than the truth of so many families' awful reality. And the smug feeling of moral superiority based on an rigid utilitarian ideology.

G in Berlin said...

N: did you miss the statistics of children and adults who died of measles, a disease which WHO hoped to eradicate by next year which is now reaching epidemic proportions because of idiots? Have you ever actually looked at statistics on diseases like polio, an terrible epidemic illness through the 50s?
Whatever. You can't persuade me. I also don't believe in Martians. And I still don't see what alternative you have provided. I am good with enclaves with no access to the public.

christina said...

The Impfmüdigkeit in Germany really scares me. Measles are still quite common in some states and some parents actually have "measles parties" where one kid infects all the other ones because the parents feel it's better for a child to get the disease than to be vaccinated against it. I don't get that AT ALL. When I was a child I got a bad case of mumps with encephalitis as a complication and it was horrible. I'm pretty sure I had had all my shots, but in those days, maybe not. I would never want to put my children through something like that. Both of mine have had all the recommened vaccines and we've never had a single problem.

Most people know (and this isn't directed at you G, because I'm sure you know it too) that there is not concrete evidence for the MMR/autism connection.

honeypiehorse said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
honeypiehorse said...

Darn Brits, according to my pediatrician they've been passing Meningitis around in recent years too, so yet another vaccination for my girls. Anyway, my kids are vaccinated to the hilt but when they were babies I cried all night before each vaccination because there is plenty of ominous research out there implying risks with vaccination - sudden fevers, autism, death - in formerly healthy-seeming children. There has even been some research suggesting a link between vaccination and cancer in later life although I tend to discount that. I do feel for parents that don't vaccinate out of fear because I understand that fear but I agree that society should play a role in investigating which vaccinations are truly necessary and then enforcing it (like in the US) before a kid can enter public school. My first German pediatrician put it well: 'I assure you that polio is worse than the vaccination.' We actually did have to submit our kids' vaccination certificate before our kids could enter Kindergarten so it's kind of enforced here, at least on a case by case basis.

vicki said...

To Honeypiehorse,

I'm afraid vaccinations are not enforced in all school districts in the US. My children attended a Chicago Public School, and I was told to submit their vaccination records or fill-out an exemption form. Since I believe in vaccinations and my children were already vaccinated, I didn't request a form, and therefore, I don't know what is required in order to be exempt. But I did meet parents who had not vaccinated their children, and they told me it was no problem for their children to attend public school.