When the Tubblet was at infant’s school, we'd get letters telling us about an outbreak of nits. We'd dutifully cover our hair with Nit O'Nuke and frantically comb. The nits would go away, only to return a few weeks later.
There are no words for how much I hate nits. They make you feel dirty and icky. When I was growing up, the nit nurse would turn up at school every term and pick through your hair. You'd sit there sweating as she picked at your head praying that she wouldn't find anything. No one wanted to be friends with the kid with nits.
Some parents at the Tubblet's school didn't treat. They didn't like using chemicals on their kid’s hair. The smell was nasty, the process was messy and it was a PITA. They were expressing their right of free choice. Which is fine. But their untreated child would re-infect everyone else.
The circle of nits - nits, treat, no nits, return of the nits.
Five years constantly scratching your head and picking bugs out of it is No Fun. Fortunately, children seem to grow out of it.
If you stretch a point, possibly to breaking point, the vaccination debate is like this. As a few anti-vaxxer posts have started appearing on my social media feed, I thought I'd say my piece.
The Tubblet is nearly 12. She was due for the MMR when the whole debate about whether it causes autism was at its height. Like all parents, we wanted to do the best for our child. We were worried about the potential risks but wanted to do the right thing, so we went through the issue with a family member who is a GP.
They pointed out:
- There are no differences in the number of cases of autism in countries where the MMR is compulsory and in ones where it isn't. There are some countries who say "screw parental choice". Vaccinations are compulsory and a condition for entering the education system etc.
- When the research came out linking MMR and autism, other researchers tried to replicate the findings. They weren't able to. It was all made up.
- Autism is usually diagnosed in children around the age of 3. The same time as children get their first vaccines. When bad things happen, we look for a reason or something to blame. Sometimes there isn't one. Stuff just happens.
- Good nutrition, improved hygiene and the like aren't the same as immunity and protection. You only get immunity and protection from a disease by a) being vaccinated or b) exposure.
- People don't get vaccinated because they don't fear the diseases. They should. Diseases like measles kill and maim. Although most people only get mild forms, a few don't. 1 - 2 children in every 1,000 will die. As a form of risk management, crossing your fingers and hoping it won't happen to you or someone you know isn't all that. None of us live in a bubble. It could happen to you or someone you know.
- The reduction in the number of people being vaccinated comprises the herd immunity. Some people can't be vaccinated. They're allergic to the vaccine; reacted badly to the first one so can't have a booster or have health issues. If everyone else has the vaccination, then it doesn't matter as they're still protected. If enough people don't, then they're not. This puts people who already have health issues at increased risk of disease. Again, poor risk management.
- The media will, in the interest of balance, show both sides of the pro-vax / anti-vax debate. Some things aren't debates. They're facts and opinions. Don't get seduced by style, look at the content. Anti-vaxxers may look good, speak well or be famous, but are voicing their opinion. They are not an expert and they have no medical training. The medical professional speaking on the pro-vax side is the expert and has facts on their side. However bad their hair.
- The Rant Mistress, has some additional arguments against anti-vaxxers. Made in a significantly ruder and blunter way than a middle class woman of a certain age who lives in the home countries can manage. She nails it with some killer quotes. My favourite: "But diseases such as measles and whopping cough are making a comeback. That is about as welcome as a new Dennis Waterman album. ... Spare me your lies about vaccination causing autism. It doesn't. And even if there was a connection, which there isn't, it is appalling that you'd rather have a dead child than an autistic child".
Parenting is about deciding what you're prepared to live with. Or choosing the least worse option. The Tubblet had her MMR. We decided risks of vaccination outweighed the risk of life changing health problems (or death). It also cancelled out the risk of her catching something, being fine, but passing it onto another child who wasn't.
If you decide not to vaccine and dress it up with pseudoscience, then I wish you luck. I realise that it's bad form to criticise other people's parenting choices, but I'm making an exception. It's not just your child you're risking, but everyone else's. The reason I don't respect your choice is because it's both selfish and crap. I pray it doesn't bite you or everyone else on the ar*e.
I repeat, if you believe that vaccines are a plot by Big Pharma and that diseases can be prevented by diet, exercise and hygiene, then you are just wrong.
OTH, if this really is working for you, then why the hell aren't you sharing the knowledge in a book that will sell by the bucket-load! It will make your fortune, enabling you to sod off to the Bahamas and stop endlessly posting nonsense on Social Media!