Inaction and Consequences

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Health Care, Obama Administration

There are measles epidemics breaking out around the country, and plenty of people are plenty mad at anti-vaxxers who have weakened our herd immunity and allowed this to happen by not getting their kids immunized. Apparently upscale crunchy suburban parenting requires abstention from vaccines, or else one is a bad parent allowing toxins into children’s bodies. These are college educated people who have persuaded themselves that the risks of the vaccines are greater than the risks from the diseases. I understanding not feeling warm and fuzzy toward the pharmaceutical industry, but this is ridiculous.

I ran into a guy the other day raving about vaccines being a violation of personal sovereignty. To which I thought, how did we get to be such a nation of whiny hothouse orchids that vaccinations are a violation of personal sovereignty? I can understand the small number of people with genuine religious objections, but most anti-vaxxers are objecting on pseudo-science grounds. The long-discredited link between vaccines and autism is still believed, and the link is still being promoted on a lot of websites. Plus there are new scientifically unsupported theories about how the number of vaccines kids are getting is overloading their immune systems, or something.

If vaccines were a brand new thing this fear might be more understandable, but if you’re alive today you probably were vaccinated as a child. Not counting the original, primitive smallpox vaccine of the 1790s — which really was risky — people have been getting vaccinated for all kinds of diseases since the late 19th century. The U.S. issued regulations of recommended vaccine schedules for children and adults in the 1940s. It must have been a state program, but in the 1950s in my public elementary school, the school nurse from time to time lined up everyone in class in alphabetical order and give us our shots right there in school. Nobody was excused.  When I enrolled my kids in public school in the 1980s I had to send their immunization record to the school.

However, after all these years, a substantial number of people have decided that immunizations are (choose as many as apply) a government plot, a scam by the pharmaceutical industry, a threat to our health that for some reason nobody but some celebrities on teevee take seriously, or a harbinger of the One World Order, This is just weird.

Health fads aren’t new at all, but fads about diets have gotten so prevalent they’ve spawned a new term — orthorexia. Suddenly gluten is bad. Suddenly people have to de-tox. Like we didn’t have livers for that. Not that I’m exactly a role model of sensible eating, but I do run into people who are absolutely obsessed with only eating certain foods from a few trusted, and out of the way, sources. It’s like anything sold in a chain grocery store might cause sudden death.

My working theory for at least some of this craziness is that food and health fads have taken the place of religion for some people as a means for protecting themselves and their loved ones for the scary things out there. Prayer has been replaced by colon cleanses.

The measles outbreaks also reminds us that the things we do, or don’t do, really do affect other people in myriad ways. We can go around pretending that our personal choices are just our business, but it’s not always that simple.

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17 Comments

16 Comments

  1. moonbat  •  Feb 1, 2015 @12:08 am

    Detoxification really works (from personal experience). Our livers today put up with far more environmental toxins than in the past. Simply being around household plastics (which evaporate) and cleaners will stress your system, let alone air pollution, food additives and so on. None of this stuff existed previously. Some people are far more sensitive to this than others, and are sicker than others.

    I’ve heard that in Chinese medicine, they really don’t get started treating you until you go through a detoxification regime. At least one guru (Yogananda) recommended regular seasonal detoxification, several times a year. He also recommended fasting one day a week. He wasn’t particularly hung up on food or spent a lot of time on it, but he had some suggestions.

    Now there are hypochondriacs, where unfounded fears and beliefs run their lives and can even create physical problems. My favorite phobia are those people who don’t want their food scanned by laser barcode readers in the checkout line. Was at a Whole Foods Market some years ago where a checker explained that they have to accomodate customers like this, and I actually saw somebody in line, trying to shield their produce from “harmful” laser light.

    Another fear is the prevalence of hand cleaners as you enter a grocery store, which has become more common in the last ten years. Wipe down the shopping cart lest you get someone else’s cooties. It’s another expression of fear of the other in this culture.

    I ran into a guy the other day raving about vaccines being a violation of personal sovereignty. To which I thought, how did we get to be such a nation of whiny hothouse orchids that vaccinations are a violation of personal sovereignty?

    It’s not about being a whiny hothouse orchid, it’s about being a self-absorbed nitwit. Me, me, me, me.

  2. erinyes  •  Feb 1, 2015 @8:47 am

    Penn and teller have a very good skit about the stupidity of the anti vaccine movement.
    My daughter worked at a psych clinic that specialized in autism and aspbergers. I asked the nurse practioner about the autism / vaccine link, she told me about the autism “spectrum”, and how autism has been misdiagnosed or not recognized for a very long time. She doesn’t buy the vaccine link. The autism spectrum ranges from mild autism; the classic geek / nerd personality to those seemingly living in another dimension.
    Anyway, the cause is unknown and autism is not a new condition ; previous generations either hid autistic kids or considered them to have behavior issues and treated them accordingly.
    Ask an anti vaccine person how they feel about having their pets immunized against rabies, etc.
    On a side bar, iI do think the tetanus vaccine is a bit overused., but better be safe than sorry.

  3. c u n d gulag  •  Feb 1, 2015 @10:03 am

    To the people who don’t vaccinate their children:
    Your special little snow-flake interacts with people throughout the day in school – as you do at work.
    And the children and co-workers you interact with, interact with still more people.
    Etc…

    I think we should classify the parents whose refuse to vaccinate their children, as WMD’s.
    I won’t stigmatize the child with that label, because the child is, of course, a child. S/he can’t help it if the parents are self-righteous nitwits.

  4. paradoctor  •  Feb 1, 2015 @1:19 pm

    Viruses are ruthless, adaptable enemies of humankind. Antivaxxers allow fear of imaginary dangers to make them show weakness in the face of real danger from the viral enemy. That is the definition of cowardice.

  5. goatherd  •  Feb 1, 2015 @2:07 pm

    “The measles outbreaks also reminds us that the things we do, or don’t do, really do affect other people in myriad ways. We can go around pretending that our personal choices are just our business, but it’s not always that simple.”

    I wonder how many events like the Ebola and measles outbreaks it will take for this to come back into the minds of our rugged individualists.

    Sometimes you have to look at human behavior and the way our minds function with a deep sense of wonder at the survival of our species. It’s hard to imagine how we got this far, or how things like “civilization” ever endured. Over the course of time, the cooperative effort not only helped us to survive, but shaped us into something better than we were. If we allowed more freedom, more liberty to others and wrote it into law, it was because we were becoming more empathetic, or so I hoped. Of course to some, regard for others or a sense of interdependence is a character flaw rather than a virtue.

    Is a “Darwin Award” ever rewarded to an entire country?

  6. c u n d gulag  •  Feb 1, 2015 @3:06 pm

    “It’s hard to imagine how we got this far, or how things like “civilization” ever endured. Over the course of time, the cooperative effort not only helped us to survive, but shaped us into something better than we were.”

    goatherd,
    And over the millennia, every step forward was accomplished despite the whining and crying of hate and fear-filled, bigoted, conservatives at that time, hanging onto the leg of those trying to make some progress.

    Liberals move forward. Or, at least try to.
    Conservatives like things the way they were in some mythical and pure past – which never, ever existed!

  7. grannyeagle  •  Feb 1, 2015 @3:21 pm

    Moonbat: Any health care provider will tell you the best way to keep from getting the common cold, flu, or possible annoying diseases is hand washing. Since one cannot wash their hands when they’re out shopping a good substitute is the hand wipes and I appreciate stores providing. Many people handle the carts and there can be all kinds of “cooties” on them. When I was in the hospital recently, there was cleanser outside and inside my room and the nurses used it coming in and out of my room. So there may be fear involved among some people but it is a good practice.

  8. Bonnie  •  Feb 1, 2015 @6:29 pm

    During the summer between high school graduation and entering college, the college had a rule that every one entering had to have a new set of vaccinations. I did that. Don’t think I have suffered any in the past 50 plus years because I had vaccinations as a baby and as an 18 year old.

  9. Tom_b  •  Feb 1, 2015 @11:22 pm

    NC has had over 100 flu deaths this season. We all got our vaccines FOR FREE, thanks to the ACA back in November. Both my kids came home last week with flu symptoms, but neither one was laid up for more than a day, thanks to the shots. I can only shake my head in dismay at the unfit, uninformed parents subjecting their kids to measles and worse because they are too stupid to consult with their pediatricians.

  10. dianne  •  Feb 2, 2015 @6:49 am

    I remember how we were all so grateful for the polio vaccine back in the fifties. I wonder if this were a polio outbreak instead of measles, would the anti-vaxers be so adamant in not getting their kids vaccinated.

  11. grannyeagle  •  Feb 2, 2015 @11:17 am

    Dianne: I remember being very grateful for the polio vaccine even though I was only 11 or 12. But the reason was very selfish. Up to that time my mother would not let me go to the swimming pools in the parks because she had heard that pools was where the polio germs hung out. So once I got the vaccine I could go. I never learned to swim properly but I had a lot of fun in the water. Maybe those were unreasonable fears on my mother’s part but she was protecting me the best way she knew how and that’s what mothers do.

  12. moonbat  •  Feb 2, 2015 @1:25 pm

    @GrannyEagle – thanks for the explanation. I once visited a commune in Oregon, and was amazed at how they had four sinks in the large communal dining area. They very much emphasized washing your hands – this was in a cold, rainy environment where a lot of people were living without much heat and I’m sure colds and such were rampant.

  13. Ed  •  Feb 2, 2015 @8:25 pm

    But vaccines cause autism, and this website explains how in clear, non-technical terms that anyone can understand.
    http://howdovaccinescauseautism.com/

  14. maha  •  Feb 2, 2015 @8:56 pm

    Ed … lol!

  15. erinyes  •  Feb 2, 2015 @9:16 pm

    Right to the point, ed !

  16. uncledad  •  Feb 3, 2015 @3:23 pm

    “understanding not feeling warm and fuzzy toward the pharmaceutical industry, but this is ridiculous”

    I think that is a good point, for sure many of these anti-vaxers are just plain stupid, scared, don’t trust gubmint, but perhaps some of this is a reaction to the myriad of big pharma ads on the teevee. I think these ads have eroded trust in the healthcare industry as a whole. Combine that with the dimwittedteabaggers eroding trust in gubmint and we get what we have?

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