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Vaccine moronitude

I was shocked to learn that of our office leadership team, three out of seven have decided not to get flu shots, H1N1 or otherwise, because they feel they could just tough any flu out that happens to come along. Despite repeated and concerted efforts to explain to them that that’s not the reason getting the flu shot is important — rather, immunity to the flu will dampen and slow its spread, and prevent the thing from gaining a foothold, mutating, and wrecking herd immunity — all I get in response is, “if I get sick, I’ll stay home.” Never mind that you’re infectious to others well before you start showing symptoms (and how often have you had your first cough of an illness while in a public place? Probably most of the time!). Never mind that these people are the leadership team of the site — and complain about absenteeism regularly and loudly. And never mind that they’re engaged in a concerted “wash your hands, know the symptoms, get vaccinated” campaign presently.

The first local, free (provincially subsidized) H1N1 / regular flu clinic came this past Thursday to our neighbor town, and apparently lineups were three hours long and ended in people being turned away for lack of doses. Residents from a number of neighboring communities, some as far as two hours drive away, despite having clinics soon in their own hometowns, took it upon themselves to drive out to ours and make a run on the supply. I was planning on going to the clinic on Nov. 2, but Jodi and Opal are both still slightly sick (with a cough… hmm) so it might be worth waiting til they’re feeling better. Besides, hopefully after the first one was such a giant cluster, they’ll ramp up their dose supply and hours of operation (and staff to unclog the lineups), so the future ones will be less problematic. I understand the desire to get vaccinated, but these are obviously not the high-risk folks doing this and willing to stand in the cold for three hours — just the ones that are paranoid and willing to cut in line to save their skins out of fear that H1N1 is the new plague.

Meanwhile, in the States, a bunch of news has been happening on the vaccination front. Another study powerfully rebukes the long mythologized link between autism and the ethyl mercury that, despite the frequency, urgency and timeliness of the antivax crowd’s complaints, hasn’t been used in vaccines in over a decade. And the antivax community, headed by Generation Rescue and J. B. Handley, has begun fighting back against a Wired article about the fearmongering tactics they’ve adopted — via misogyny against its author. Also devastating to not only Orac, but myself, is the fact that respected sci-fi actor Brent Spiner has been expressing antivax sentiments. I don’t blur the line between Spiner and his character, Data, as Orac does in his article — but I guarantee you that amongst his millions of followers on Twitter are people who think Spiner is an extension of his logical, emotionless character. Given that antivax sentiment is just that — sentiment, in opposition to cold, amoral science that proves vaccinations safe — there’s got to be something expressly immoral about casting unreasonable doubt on life-saving scientific research.

I’d rant into the ether more about this, but I have to go to a Hallowe’en party now. My costume has gotten a blood upgrade, and through the night, depending on how drunk I get, the tie might double as a headband per the battle-damaged Shaun in the movie. More pics will be forthcoming.

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