1. says

    Vaccines like all issues, I think, need a middle of the ground approach. I am almost certain that the kennel cough vaccine they squirted up my dog’s nose killed her later in life. At the same time, many historical vaccines have cured major epidemics. I am a big believer in science, but always think twice before injecting foreign bodies into your body just because someone says it’s good, because often science overlooks things, either as a result of innocent shortsightedness or in many cases, corruption from profits. Ironically, thinking back to all the times I’ve seeked help from the medical establishment, more often than not they’ve done me harm and created more problems than any good they provided.

  2. says

    I don’t run into any anti-vaccers because most of my friends have half a brain. But if I do, I’ll probably say, “Ever have small pox? Measles? Mumps? Then thank vaccinations!”

  3. Doubting Thomas says

    My PCP did not want to give me a flu shot because of a bad experience I had in Basic Training some 45 years ago. Guess I’ll have to rely on that herd immunity thing. Please Y’all get yours if you can.

  4. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    But if I do, I’ll probably say, “Ever have small pox? Measles? Mumps? Then thank vaccinations!”

    Add polio to the list. It was a real problem though the 1950s until the Salk (1957) and Sabin (1962) vaccines became available, then it disappeared. From the Wiki article on Salk:

    Until 1957, when the Salk vaccine was introduced, polio was considered one of the most frightening public health problems in the world. In the postwar United States, annual epidemics were increasingly devastating.

  5. Scientismist says

    Disney Studios made an animated short about vaccination in 1943 that I remember vividly, as it was still being shown in schools in the late ’50’s. Ignorance and fear have always been a problem in acceptance of vaccination. The metaphoric images of machine guns and tanks Disney’s artists used during WWII, and that were still effective in the Postwar era, have changed into wolves in Maki Naro’s excellent comic, but the message is still pretty similar. But that sense of duty to the common welfare, while even better supported now by the science of herd immunity, seems to be harder to engender today.

  6. Beatrice, an amateur cynic looking for a happy thought says

    Anti-vaccination movement seems to have gained some hold onto my little part of Europe as well. I’m not sure how well it has spread in other countries.

    It’s worrying that younger generations, my generation, are buying quite heavily into “government shouldn’t tell me what I can do with my kids” argument when it comes to vaccination. A kid can’t be enrolled into kindergarten here unless it’s had all necessary vaccinations so it’s good that the government can in fact pressure you that way… but I’m not sure about rules applied to vaccinations given in elementary school.

  7. Beatrice, an amateur cynic looking for a happy thought says


    But that sense of duty to the common welfare, while even better supported now by the science of herd immunity, seems to be harder to engender today.

    Yeah, instead of being encouraged to vaccinate, they seem to have even more cavalier attitude to it, believing herd immunity will protect their kid while they keep it “pure” from “chemicals”.

  8. rq says

    Anti-vaccination is a thing here, too. Because it injects poisons into your child’s blood. And that whole BigPharma thing. Doesn’t help that a few supposed medical professionals have come out against vaccination, saying it deserves great thought and consideration before application.
    (Also, while kids technically can’t be enrolled in kindergarten if unvaccinated, parents have fought that on the basis of discrimination and/or personal medical/ethical reasons (read: bullshit), but I do believe they still stand strong FOR vaccination when enrolling in school. Not sure, though.)

  9. Beatrice, an amateur cynic looking for a happy thought says


    Doctors here seem to be pretty shocked about parents refusing vaccination, and most are strongly supporting vaccination.
    So there’s that, but many parents are of course much smarter than those doctors. I mean, they googled vaccination!

  10. rq says

    Well, it’s mostly an accepted thing, but I’ve read about 3 articles in popular internet news over the past couple of years being all ‘it’s okay to refuse vaccination’ but without the ‘already-compromised immune system’ part.
    Google is better than any university!!

  11. briank says

    I’m a nurse. I was working in a hospital in Michigan and got into a discussion about mandatory vaccinations for nurses during flu season.

    One of my coworkers, a fairly new nurse, was a rabid anti-vaxer. I printed out studies, articles, etc… Ive got to admit, I was a little disgusted she had passed her board exams and was a registered nurse.

    Anyway, her response to the studies was to print out pseudoscientific journal articles to support her points, but her most vehement response was to articles that took a “snarky” attitude towards her stance. They put her on an irrational defensive, making it harder to convince her.

    Lesson learned on my part? Psychological studies regarding propaganda have shown that when people feel attacked, they double-down on their stance. This happens even when people were instructed to defend beliefs they didnt initially subscribe to, like “the moon is made of cheese”. Ie, insulting people makes more enemies than conversions.

  12. Ariaflame, BSc, BF, PhD says

    Part of vaccination’s problem has been its success. The parents having children now didn’t live in a time where they or their friends were at risk of death or permanent damage from measles, mumps, polio, etc. Because they didn’t experience all the bad stuff that happened they have downplayed how bad it could be, and because human beings are really bad at risk assessment on the whole, they overestimate the potential problems from vaccination (though I bet they take medication with a whole *list* of potentially bad side-effects without a moment’s thought except for the extreme Bad Pharma conspiracy theorists, but those go the other way and pay large amounts of money for water and possibly contaminated ‘herbal’ remedies)

  13. JPS says

    At a routine doctor’s appointment a couple of years ago my MD said that after the visit she was going to send me over for a couple of vaccinations. I put on a mock horror expression and said “I don’t believe in vaccinations!”. She knew me well enough to realize that I was kidding and she replied in kind.
    Then I asked her if she’d run into anti-vaxers. She put down her pencil, got very serious, and told me that just a couple of weeks before a child had died in the emergency room from a “completely preventable” disease.
    I let the subject drop.

  14. ibyea says

    The permanent elimination of smallpox, a disease that killed millions, one of humanity’s greatest achievements.

  15. gussnarp says

    And we were so close to eradicating polio, then the fucking CIA had to go and actually do the kind of thing that Islamist theocrats and American antivaxxers accuse doctors of doing: use a vaccination program as a cover to try to find Bin Laden. Like killing the washed up head of a terrorist organization was so important. On the grand scale of human achievements, which will matter to history, killing one terrorist or eradicating a disease that has killed or left permanently disabled millions of people through history?

    You know how Republicans always want to eliminate any agency that makes a few mistakes? Like the EPA or the DOE? How about we eliminate the CIA? I’m not at all convinced we need them anymore, or that we can’t build a new agency that makes more sense in a post cold war world and doesn’t include any war criminals.

    Oh, and Maki did great work on this comic, I love his stuff.

  16. gussnarp says

    A while back I had an interesting vaccine experience. I had recently learned that the DTaP (or whatever order those go in now) vaccine needs a booster every ten years or so and most adults don’t get it. So at my next doctor visit I asked for one and got it. My doctor said he was glad I asked because there was no official recommendation for it. I wasn’t sure why he couldn’t recommend it regardless, but I didn’t ask for more details, because he’s a busy guy. Days later we decided that the little cough my infant son had should have gone away and took him to the pediatrician. He tested positive for pertussis. He’d had his first shot, but not the second yet, so onto the antibiotics he went. My wife was sent in for a booster. Son was fine, no serious issues, thankfully.

    So now it’s four years later and a friend of mine’s wife was pregnant with her first child and he told me the doctors immediately sent her and him in for a DTaP booster after the pregnancy was confirmed. And I keep seeing billboards urging pregnant women to get a booster. So I assume there’s been some policy change somewhere, likely in response to recent outbreaks. Has anybody heard anything about a change in policies or recommendations, or even what kind of “recommendation” my doctor would have been talking about?

  17. HolyPinkUnicorn says

    @gussnarp #18

    Looks like the CDC made its last recommendation update for pregnant women and Tdap shots in August 2013. Their recommendation: “Pregnant women should get a dose of Tdap during each pregnancy, preferably at 27 through 36 weeks gestation.”

    Pertussis/whooping cough can be deadly in children; glad to hear it wasn’t too bad for your son. Apparently, a lot of physicians and emergency workers have never seen it in person–a testament to the efficacy of widespread DTaP/Tdap use–and its outbreaks don’t get the fearmongering-level coverage of Ebola, so cases will probably keep popping up every year.

  18. says

    I went through measles, chicken pox & mumps as a matter of course as a kid, back in the dark ages. (Measles was was the worst hands down) – but scariest of all was TB. We had to have a six-pronged skin pop injection to see if we had natural immunity to tuberculosis, then those kids that didn’t, had to have the injection, which was widely known to to be the biggest needle you’ve ever seen, & the school nurse would stick it right through your arm & out the other side, apparently. :) I can’t thank vaccination enough, none our next generation have had any of it- NZ still has TB (300 a year so less than 0.1%) but we don’t have Polio. I can’t help thinking if the anti- vacc people had lived in the fear we had in the past, especially of Polio, they would have a different view.