Parents who won't vaccinate their kids should pay higher insurance premiums

Writing on CNN, pediatrician Rahul K. Parikh suggests that parents who allow the irresponsible lies of publicity-mongers like Jenny McCarthy to scare them into not vaccinating their kids should have to pay higher insurance premiums.

I think this sounds like a good start, but I'd go further: I think that kids should have to show a certificate of vaccination to use public schools -- because vaccinations don't confer resistance on all people, we have to rely on "herd immunity" (that is, a preponderance of people taking vaccination) to keep all of us safe. Here in Hackney, London, we've got live measles, whooping cough and other terrible, preventable childhood diseases in the field, thanks to this kind of fearmongering. For those of us with kids who are too young to be vaccinated, it means that other parents' uninformed fear create a health risk for our families.

Refusing to vaccinate a child is dangerous not just for that child but for entire communities. It's precisely this point a colleague of mine was considering when he had the idea that parents who refuse to vaccinate their kids should pay substantially higher health insurance premiums.

It makes sense. Insurance, after all, is just a pool of money into which we all pay. In determining how much we or our employers pay, risk is taken into account.

The perfect analogy is smoking. If you smoke -- and want to turn your lungs black and spend a greater portion of that pot of money on your possible chronic lung disease or any cancers you'll get -- then you may have to pay more.

Make anti-vaccine parents pay higher premiums (Thanks, Fipi Lele!)

(Image: Measles and Scarlet Fever, a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from perpetualplum's photostream)


  1. I’ve actually heard the “not vaccinating == smoking” argument before, and it still seems wise.

    Ultimately I feel really, really bad for the kids.

    1. Here’s another good idea. let’a tax bloggers and people who write comments on blogs because they are too sedentary. It has been shown this is by far worse for your health than smoking.

  2. Compulsory vaccination sounds all good and well until you have to work through the red tape. With our child we elected to do two things – alter the schedule of vaccinations slightly (about 6 months) and not use the typical doses which combine up to 7 different components but, rather, use preparations combining 2 or fewer in one shot.

    Why spread them out? Because of an illness that was the recommendation.

    Why not mega-doses? We were concerned about allergic reactions and it is quite difficult to tease out which vaccine is causing a problem when 5 to 7 are mixed together.

    Pretty reasonable and all approved by our doctors. Problem? The school district freaked when our child’s vaccination records didn’t neatly line up with their expectations. They agreed that all the vaccinations had been done. They acknowledged our doctors recommendations. Still, we had to jump through several hoops, reveal much more medical information than is reasonable, submit a dozen letters, work it all the way up to the superintendent of schools.

    Remember, the slight deviation from the school’s expectations were completely approved by qualified doctors, were well within the US standard practices and didn’t omit any required components.

    After this several month red-tape hell I’d be loathe to impose any more restrictions on any other parent.

  3. Wow, Cory, I wouldn’t have taken you for the big brother type. I’ll take the risk of disease over the risk of having the government dictate my medical treatments any day.

    1. “I’ll take the risk of disease over the risk of having the government dictate my medical treatments any day.”

      That’s the issue, it’s not your risk. It’s my risk and the risk of my family. I’m not willing to let my nieces and nephews suffer and die needlessly so that you can wear your tin foil hat. The likelihood of suffering major heath impacts from not getting immunized far exceeds the likelihood of having a serious reaction to an immunization. This is not some government propaganda to carry out a nefarious scheme on the public, it’s disease prevention through research and science. It isn’t perfect and it isn’t risk free, but it significantly lowers overall risk to you and those around you.

      1. @shannigans

        How would your arguments sound when applied to TSA deniers, you know those tin-foil-hat loonies that think body cavity searches are just too much to bear for the state-allotted privilege of travelling? After all, plenty of experts confirm the risk blah blah increased threat levels etc.

        You’re right, it’s not only my risk. But fortunately America is still free enough that it IS only my choice. Incidentally, I have chosen to use vaccine drugs for me and my family in most cases where the government so recommends. I opted out for anthrax. I researched the issues and made a choice. That’s how it should work.

        There are bad people and bad organisms out there. People suffer and sometimes they die. That’s life. The best way to prevent it at home is to stay off the roads. The best way to prevent it overall is to help kids in poor countries who die of easily prevented causes and, if you live in a country that participates in such activities, stop your government from killing and maiming people. Nothing personal, I’m sorry that kids die but I have no more duty to protect your nieces and nephews than to any other child in the universe.

        The number of people killed by vaccine “opt-outs” in the developed world is TINY in comparison with how many people die of other causes. The risk posed by increased government power is HUGE. Which comes back to my original point as synthemesc pointed out: you really want the government to put a fence around public parks and start monitoring who goes in and what their medical history is?

        1. You are correct that we do need to be very aware and careful about what we allow to become government mandated requirements. But saying bad things happen, c’est la vie, is not a sound argument. There are a number of actions that are restricted or required by the government that are for the common good. For example, I’m not allowed to burn trash in my backyard because of the fire and toxic fumes risk. I’m also not allowed to bury it or let it pile up as these are also public health risks. I am required by the government to properly dispose of it, either by taking it to the dump myself or paying someone to do it. Most people don’t think this is the government overstepping it’s bounds, it’s the decision of the people to live in a community not plagued by smoke and fumes and vermin and rancid stink. Is the will of the people that we live in a society largely free from measles? I would argue yes.

          I don’t propose that we go so far as banning those who chose to not vaccinate from public spaces, or that they should have to pay higher premiums. I do agree that this falls onto the slippery slope area. I do think we need far more education so people like DaisyMay stop believing that living a natural lifestyle is enough to prevent disease. So much damage was done by Wakefield, undoing this damage will likely take a very long time and unfortunately it will result in unnecessary deaths.

          1. You are correct that we do need to be very aware and careful about what we allow to become government mandated requirements. But saying bad things happen, c’est la vie, is not a sound argument. There are a number of actions that are restricted or required by the government that are for the common good. For example, I’m not allowed to burn trash in my backyard because of the fire and toxic fumes risk. I’m also not allowed to bury it or let it pile up as these are also public health risks. I am required by the government to properly dispose of it, either by taking it to the dump myself or paying someone to do it. Most people don’t think this is the government overstepping it’s bounds, it’s the decision of the people to live in a community not plagued by smoke and fumes and vermin and rancid stink. Is the will of the people that we live in a society largely free from measles? I would argue yes.”

            Thank you shannigans for telling jonw in a very civilised manner, using a very effective analogy, what I would have badly communicated by telling him/her: “people with this sort of attitude to society are not fit to live in one. Please leave. You’ll be happier with your freedom and not having to pay taxes (and burning your toxic trash in the street and shitting on the commons) and the rest of us can get on with living in a civilise’ar, far politer than I wanted to be, but disemvowelment is not to be risked.)
            The ‘common good’ is not code for communism, or dictatorship, despite what some “I must be free of govt interference” anti-social libertarian types appear to think.

            If knowingly having unprotected sex with AIDS and not telling your partner is a crime, why isn’t sending your unimmunised disease-carrying child out into the world to infect as yet unimmunised younger children?

          2. Oops – a stray keystroke deleted some stuff. I meant to say:

            Thank you shannigans for telling jonw in a very civilised manner, using a very effective analogy, what I would have badly communicated by telling him/her: “people with this sort of attitude to society are not fit to live in one. Please leave. You’ll be happier with your freedom and not having to pay taxes (and burning your toxic trash in the street and shitting on the commons) and the rest of us can get on with living in a civilised society rather than the ‘devil take the hindmost’ free-for-all anarchy that the libertarian right appears to think passes for democracy. (Actually that was far, far politer than I wanted to be, but disemvowelment is not to be risked.) The ‘common good’ is not code for communism, or dictatorship, despite what some “I must be free of govt interference” anti-social libertarian types appear to think.

        2. You suggest that the risks of increased government control of health are huge. What are these risks, exactly? I see the “bad things will happen” argument all the time from people opposed to this in the US but when asked for specifics I get not much. Since there’s a good 40 nations with government run health care in the world you’d think there would be some evils to point at and yet.. nothing. Or Sarah Palin style babble about death panles, which have never existed anywhere.

          1. @ Baldhead “You suggest that the risks of increased government control of health are huge. What are these risks, exactly? I see the “bad things will happen” argument all the time from people opposed to this in the US but when asked for specifics I get not much.”

            Hmm, how about the risk that the poster following you is elected to be in charge of something? Social services intelligence tests before getting a license to reproduce anyone?

            But seriously, I didnt talk about government control of health. (Whether the government should make healthcare available is a separate issue from whether the government should mandate particular treatments). I talked about increased government power. Just to name a few specific risks of a more powerful government: they might use your money to get rich? imprison you for using herbs they don’t allow? prevent you from taking pictures of police? spy on you? fly you to another country to be tortured? I bet this stuff can happen even in a country with government-run healthcare.

    2. Well spoken, proud and brave libertarian!

      Now get away from the rest of the herd, ya damned plague beast.

    3. Shannigans has it right. It’s not just your health your are putting into question. If you lived alone and smoked all your life and got lung cancer that is on you (well technically we all indirectly foot the bill, but you are the one living with it.)

      However if your unvaccinated kids get MMR then that might only effect them. Or the worst case scenario, their infection allows the viral strain to mutate and makes the standard vaccine ineffective.

      This isn’t a single physically contained thing, these are environment born viruses. Given enough of a feeding ground and chance they will continue to mutate. ie: H1N1 or MRSA.

    4. The government won’t be dictating your medical treatments. They’d just be giving you options. Just like everything else in life. You have the option to own a gun or not and exercise you right to bear arms. Here you have the right to exercise the option of opting out of preventive medical treatment ergo you will pay higher for the higher risk you pose for the rest of us.

    5. But this is not just *your* risk. Through such behavior, you would also be risking the community at large.

  4. I just looked at my local school district website and found their immunization record still allows a belief-based exemption from immunization. Have school systems begun to get rid of these dangerous exemptions? Maybe that could be an area where people concerned with public health can direct their energies.

    I don’t think higher insurance premiums will be effective. Most insurance for children in the United State is either government provided or gained through a parent’s employer. I don’t see much incentive for a corporate HR department to include the issue in their policies.

  5. First, Cory, you are going off here. Nothing personal, but the same reasoning is used to justify all manner of injustices. “Do what is good for me, or you have no right to live.”

    Restricting people’s liberties because they are fearful is the wrong way to encourage compliance; you’ll just make them more fearful, validate their fears, and encourage outright dissent.

    Second, they already *do* have to show proof of vaccination before attending public schools.

    Which is probably why so many kids get “autism” when they are vaccinated, because they are shell-shocked by having been thrown into an educational system rooted in industrial age assembly lines and prisons.

    1. Anon, please tell me you aren’t implying that Autism isn’t a real disease. We may not know what causes it (most definitely not vaccines–the scientists that first published the study saying that it was have almost all recanted in recent years), but it is real. I have seen it up close and personal. Neither family member was enrolled in school when they began showing symptoms of the disease (one was barely a year old when I first noticed it and the other was about the begin Kindergarten when his parents sought help).

  6. Would there be an exemption for parents who truly can’t vaccinate the child due to a documented serious medical issue (egg allergy, compromised immune system, etc.)? If so, I’m fine with this.

  7. The CNN position is a very American argument (defaulting to “personal responsibility” and health insurance as a personal financial issue) and I don’t think it is the best solution.

    I agree with your broader position, which is based on overall harm reduction. These parents are not just hurting themselves or their kids. They are threatening the immunity of the entire “herd” to very dangerous diseases. Some form of social isolation is a logical consequence, but it makes me feel bad for the kids. Plus (and this is me being bigoted, I admit) aren’t the anti-vaccination parents more likely to be homeschoolers anyway?

    1. Uh no, you are mixing up your demographics. :)
      Homeschoolers are a pretty diverse lot these days, but the majority still homeschool for religious reasons, and tend to be fairly right wing.
      People who don’t vaccinate tend to be more left-wing, and upper middle class. They are much more likely to have little Bryce in an expensive prep school, rather than homeschooling little John. Not that some of the anti-vaccine crowd don’t homeschool, but most do not.

      FWIW, it is already a total pain to not comply exactly with public school expectations of vaccine schedules. My kid brother started middle school a month late, because one of his vaccines was split for some health reason that I don’t remember. He had his vaccines completed, but the school was confused about the changed schedule. And my mom is a doctor, so it was easier for us to deal with than most people.

  8. I get the intent, but really? You just suggested having to show ID or a certificate to use parks. Absolutely absurd.

  9. Slippery slope. Should parents or patients who use antibiotics for likely viral conditions be on the hook for more? Should there doctors? They’re diminishing the efficacy of antibiotics and engendering the rise of MRSA and other multidrug resistant bugs. Not a small problem.

  10. I don’t see why insurance premiums, schools, parks, etc should be effected. Why don’t we use existing laws concerning parents who abuse their children? That’s what we’re talking about here. Abused children who are unnecessarily threatened by potentially fatal medical conditions. When children start catching measles and whooping cough because their parents were ignorant it’s no different that the child being beaten or worse.

  11. My kids aren’t vaccinated, not because I am scared of anything, but because I have strong belief in a natural, healthy immune system which is not messed around with by any sort of drugs. My kids eat well, live a healthy lifestyle and are very rarely ill. I don’t think it is herd immunity. I think it is because I don’t mess with the way nature intended things to be.

    1. This is absolute hogwash. Yes, living healthy and exposure to disease help build a strong immune system, but even the most pure living are susceptible to disease. Your children didn’t get measles, mumps, etc due to a combination of health, luck and lowered exposure do to mass immunization.

      You’ve admitted your children do get sick, which means their immune systems are susceptible to bacteria and viruses despite their lifestyle just like everyone else. With greater exposure it could just have easily been a life threatening disease rather than a common cold.

    2. Yeah because natural healthy immune systems have done such a good job of protecting the 100s of millions of people who have died of the measles.

    3. I’m truly sorry to get personal DaisyMay, but you’re an idiot and you’re inflicting the possibility of horrible diseases on them and other children by not getting them vaccinated.

      “I think it is because I don’t mess with the way nature intended things to be.” – Really? Nature intends a lot of things for us: Polio, Measles, Rubella, Smallpox, Dyptheria, Maleria, Altzheimers’ Disease, Parkinsons’ Disease, Appendicitis – need I go on?

      The only thing that is protecting your children at the moment is herd immunity, and the more parents like you break down that herd immunity the more it affects the whole of society.

    4. Daisy, I hope none of your kids, and none of the kids your kids play with or share playground equipment with wind up sterile, deaf, hideously scarred, or dead. Unfortunately, your beliefs in a natural immune system won’t stop a wide variety of nasty viruses that naturally evolved to naturally evade and cause plenty of natural damage to the child (and by the way, vaccines merely forewarn the natural immune system of the child so it can be forearmed).

      The parents of unvaccinated children who attend a school or use a playground should be at least civilly liable and possibly criminally liable for harms done to vaccinated children by these diseases. There is clear negligence, clear harm, and clear causation.

    5. So back when people had “natural, healthy, immune systems” (before vaccines existed), how much of a problem was disease? People are somewhat better nourished now, and our dwellings are cleaner, thus removing several main sources of infection, but also because of vaccination. My uncle had his eyesight damaged by measles as a child. Polio crippled or killed many people and still does where there is no access to vaccines. The diseases that your child should be getting vaccinated against are ones that the immune system does not simply “fight off” in most cases, not without the body taking damage, even in a very healthy child. Now, spraying antibacterial stuff on every surface and giving antibiotics for every sniffle and keeping kids out of the dirt are probably going too far the other way, but doing something that is proven to prevent a serious disease is a rational and smart decision. As others have stated, the only reason the people who don’t vaccinate don’t become sick is because the virus causing the disease is not here due to the fact that no one else can carry the virus to infect your child because of the vaccine.

    6. Natural immune systems actually work very well in the long run. The only problem is, before your body develops immunity to a virus, it has to run into it and learn to recognize it. For some diseases that can prove deadly, especially for children.

      The solution is to give the immune system a chance to learn about the viruses in a situation where there’s no chance of a serious infection. That’s what vaccination is. It’s not an alternative to the natural immune system, it’s a training course to give it a head start.

    7. @DaisyMay — Why not go back to that wonderful time when everyone had a “natural” immune system and a huge swath of Europe died of the plague, or we wiped out those natural native Americans with small pox? Hey, let’s cripple a good number of kids with polio, or kill hundreds of thousands every year with the flu?

      After all, its natural and natural is always good!

      The reason why your kid is not in the iron lung is because unnatural vaccinations eradicated polio. The reason your kid didn’t wind up in the hospital this winter with a life-threatening case of the flu is because other parents vaccinated their children.

      You are simply relying on other people to keep your children safe and healthy, while smugly congratulating yourself for being superior. Shame on you.

      1. Maybe we should try to understand why the Native Americans did not have diseases, like smallpox… seems like their natural way of life did not promote disease in the same manner as the unnatural European lifestyle.

    8. “My kids aren’t vaccinated, not because I am scared of anything, but because I have strong belief in a natural, healthy immune system which is not messed around with by any sort of drugs. My kids eat well, live a healthy lifestyle and are very rarely ill. I don’t think it is herd immunity. I think it is because I don’t mess with the way nature intended things to be.”

      The Indians here in Massachusetts ate well, lived a healthy lifestyle, and were very rarely ill. Then a crewman of a French trading ship visiting them for furs, well, he sneezed at them and within a year 90% of them were dead, and the remainder had no choice but to allow the Pilgrims to come ashore and settle in Plymouth.

      A healthy immune system that has not been made aware of the existence of a pathogen can only fight it off when it has made a beachhead inside the body. For the common cold, that is no big deal. For other diseases, a healthy immune system can regroup after the initial infection and give you a very nice 20% chance of survival, but really, it’s better to make your immune system aware a priori of what the pathogens look like, so it can mount a response earlier and keep the invading pathogen out.

      You have a very wrong picture of what nature intended for us. Nature did not intend for us to live long past 30. Nature did not intend for more than half of all children to come of age. The lives we live today we would not be living if we respected nature’s intentions.

    9. That’s nice. So I assume you’d be cool with them being exposed to diptheria then. Because they have a healthy immune system and other kids who are not vaccinated and catch diseases then go to school with yours and touch them, and their things, won’t be a threat to your kids.

      And you’re also totally cool with the less healthy children yours will contaminate and kill due to their “weak immune” systems while your kids “healthy immune” systems are fending off any and all disease. And also the elderly people and health-compromised adult your kids will kill with the little bump that doesn’t affect them. Not to mention the families who are trying to have a baby who may have that pregnancy lost, or have a baby born with sever birth defects due to contact with your kids and their healthy immune system while it’s doin’ its thing.

      Because those people deserve to die. Right? So that you can blow your horn on blogs about it. Especially those people who don’t have great parents like you to brag about not vaccinating their kids. Kids whose parents didn’t raise them to have magic immune systems that defend them from everything should die because they have parents that aren’t as great as you are what with your impressive assumptions about the human immune system.

      I hope you live to be old.

    10. DaisyMay, do you allow your children to:
      Exercise to strengthen your muscles and bones? or maybe to strengthen their heart and lungs?

      Play with other children? interact with other adults? This helps them learn the norms of and how to interact in your society.

      Go to school? education strengthens the mind and facilitates all the above.

      If you answer yes to the three above, then why don’t you vaccinate? Vaccination strengthens the immune system enabling a strong body to fight off disease. Vaccinated individuals live long enough to go to school, learn and actively participate in our society.

      I can’t see how your conscious allows you to send your children out into society where they can more easily spread disease to others.

      I have one grandma left, keep your kids away from her. I have two children who haven’t received all their vaccinations and boosters yet, keep your children away from them. My wife is immuno compromised, keep your children away from her.

      Your children are healthy because I’m vaccinated, my parents are vaccinated (mom got her polio vaccination the hard way) and my children are vaccinated. The only thanks I want is for you to vaccinate your children too.

    11. Well, actually, no, it’s a pretty natural solution. It’s pieces of virus that your body recognizes and builds an immune response to. It’s the EXACT SAME RESPONSE you would have if you encountered the real virus, however, you don’t actually get sick. And, you don’t run the risk of:

      1. Infecting others such as immunosuppressed populations (pregnant women, babies, the elderly, HIV)
      2. Getting a secondary infection resulting from getting sick and have to take antibiotics
      3. Being hospitalized from your illness, taking up hospital resources, and possibly getting people in hospitals sick.

      Read some medical literature or even wikipedia to learn how vaccines actually work before you decide they’re not a “natural” solution. Why expose your child to (and the rest of us) unneeded risk of potentially dangerous childhood diseases? Think a little further than yourself.

  12. Back in the 70s my dad refused the whooping cough vaccine for me based on the possible seizure side effects of the vaccine and the effect of herd immunity.

  13. I’m not against vaccinations, but have you seen the official vaccination programme in the US? It’s insane and goes way too far.

    And I still think it should be up to parents whether or not to vaccinate. We’re not the health nazis.

  14. I support -safe- vaccines. There is a list on the ‘net which gives a break-down of the adulterants commonly found in, essentially, all major vaccines produced & sold today. Vaccines, inherently, aren’t dangerous. It is what is put (various stabilizers & preservatives, et al) in vaccines which makes them dangerous. This danger is no longer a matter of contention and has not been for some time. In fact, it is now only junk-scientists who tout the safety of modern immunization.

    I’m just going to leave these here:—japan.cfm

    Those who haven’t studied immunology, epidemiology, advanced biology, physiology, psychology, formal logic and/or consciousness-manipulation techniques probably shouldn’t place their trust in the hands of for-profit corporations & scientists.

    1. user23, (though you may already have stormed off) you need to update your research and read more closely. The autism/vaccine case settled last year involved an exceptionally rare mitochondrial disorder that *may* have been aggravated by vaccination. That was an edge case, not the MMR=autism argument that scientific luminaries like Jenny McCarthy and Jim Carrey put forth. And just a tip, relying on courts for their scientific acumen is pretty foolish. (Salon recently withdrew Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.’s article about Andrew Wakefield’s research. And Kennedy’s article you linked to is pretty inflammatory and unserious…NY Times is a blind mouthpiece for the vaccine lobby? Hunh?)

      But to your point, there is no such thing as a perfectly safe vaccine, and no reasonable physician or scientist would claim otherwise. All vaccines carry inherent risks–the point is that the benefits are expected to outweigh the risks (i.e., lives saved vs. lives lost or harmed). Most of the risks, by the way, have to do with the biological material itself–not the additives.

    2. Wrong. For the record, I’ve studied all of the topics on your list so according to your absurd requirements I’m qualified to hold an opinion on the subject. No vaccine is perfect (in that it is 100% safe and confers complete lifelong immunity) but they are all pretty damn close. The “toxins” in vaccines (I’m waiting for you to mention: aluminum, mercury, formaldehyde) are either present at such low concentrations that you’d get more of the chemical from eating a tuna sandwich (mercury), normal daily metabolism (formaldehyde), or have absolutely zero documented health risks at that concentration(aluminum). Refusing vaccines for these absurd reasons is fear-mongering, plain and simple.

      All of the articles you posted have been refuted 100’s of times by real scientists (Robert Kennedy as a source? Really?) and you can find the counterarguments in any given issue of the journal “Vaccine”, many articles in the journals “Pediatrics,” “Emerging Infectious Diseases,” “New England Journal of Medicine,” “Journal of the American Medical Association,” “MMWR,” and, yes, “The Lancet.” If you prefer blogs try “Respectful Insolence” or “Science-Based Medicine.”

      Stop with this non-issue already. Try learning the subjects you pontificate about before posting. /rant.

      1. Anon poster #221,

        Physicians will occasionally recommend to certain patients that they seek a vaccine without mercury or aluminum, for example. It is possible to obtain same, albeit it requires some persistence on the part of the patient and/or health care provider. The industry simply makes it difficult to do so, and is uninterested in making these available on a widespread basis to all. Do you know why? Why put substances in vaccines which are at all controversial if they can be made without? Please explain.

      2. Vaccines have less mercury than fish we consume, yes. However, our bodies have a digestive system. How much of that mercury gets into the blood? Very, very little. With a vaccine, you’re injecting the mercury right into your blood. Add that to multiple scheduled vaccines at the same time and you’re begging for seizures and brain damage.

  15. First of all, no, they shouldn’t pay higher premiums. This is actually a case where the “slippery slope” argument is valid. Where do you draw the line as to who pays higher premiums and who doesn’t? It’s very easy to decide when we can all stand back and point at someone else saying they should pay more, but when suddenly we become part of a group that has been singled out for higher payment we might think the practice a bit more unjust. Another way is going to be needed to get people to vaccinate their kids, something that is more ethically consistant and justifiable.

    That being said, people like DaisyMay need to have a long talking to. “I have a strong belief in a natural, healthy immune system which is not message around with by any sort of drugs.” I’m hoping you can bash these viruses to bits with that belief, DaisyMay, because you’re putting your children at risk and other children at risk. “The way nature intended things to be” is that your kids’ immune systems have a very poor chance, healthy or not, of fending off these very tough viruses. Your kids are “very rarely ill”, implying that they still sometimes get sick, even with their superhuman immune systems that good eating hand healthy lifestyles have given them. Throw measles at them and see how they do, and then realize, when they are more sick than they’ve ever been or will be, with possible life threatening complications, that you could have prevented it by getting them vaccinated.

    Funny that since we no longer see many people with these terrible, preventable diseases we’ve come to fear the medicine that prevents them more than the diseases themselves. Be afraid of disease, DaisyMay, not the cures, especially ones so clearly proven to be safe and effective.

  16. while I agree immunization is a good thing, I have to wonder about the roll of big pharma lobbies in what ends up being legal requirements

    living in california, there are over 50 immunizations that are required before kindergarten. This is quite taxing on a child’s immune system (and is intended to be).

    My concern is that the need and efficacy of some (by no means all) of these immunization requirements are justified by studies that are conducted by the same companies that produce the immunization and by and large the fda simply accepts their word.

    the most egregious of these as far as I can tell is the required hepatitis c immunization as you are statistically more likely to contract hep c from the immunization unless you are a healthcare worker or in some other high risk scenario.

    1. “I have to wonder about the roll of big pharma lobbies in what ends up being legal requirements”

      Big pharma is evil, but probably not with regard to vaccinations. What they want is for you to have a number of $40+ per month perscriptions. They are less interested in vaccinations to the point that there have been times where there has been risk of inadequate production.

    2. While stating that 50 immunizations is too much for a child’s immune system, let’s do a bit of math, shall we? The human immune system is the result of essentially a brute force method trying to find out which antibody corresponds to the antigen du jour. Research suggests there are over 1 billion possible antibody combinations that are valid (see Development of the immunoglobulin repertoire, by Fanning et al.). Now, the general consensus among immunologists (i.e., no one really knows for sure) is that the average 75 y.o. American has about 1 million antibody possibilities stored over a life-time, so about 1% of the total possible combinations. Let’s be really conservative and cut that number down to 100,000 (0.1% of the total possibilities) over the course of 75 years, or 1333 new antibodies developed every year of life. 50 immunizations even given over 5 years is ~5%. I’d like to think that your child could handle 5% more than what nature normally throws at him/her on any given day.

      @Blaine & allie: to be fair, thiomerosal is still used in some vaccines, specifically the multi-dose vials. Now, the only multi-dose vials I’ve seen are for flu shots, and generally even those aren’t used by most of the big pharma companies because a) there’s so much bad press out there and b) mutli-dose vaccines are not dramatically more cost effective than the single dose vials.

  17. before commenting on hackney through a californian aritcle and the reasons why conditions are so ‘locally’ prevalent, i suggest you get out more from your new cremer st orifice (wot, clerkenwell cost too much? shaftsbury avenue too mainstream?). i would suggest to you that the reasons why such preventable diseases are present in hackney have nothing to do with ‘uninformed fear’. would you be prepared to do some further ‘local’ historical reseach towards hackney and report back here? after which you may well perhaps be prepared to move your place of residence closer to your new office.

  18. Hey DaisyMay…do yourself a favor and look up videos of infants with pertussis. You just have to keep in mind that your children can be a “host” to that virus without having any symptoms. Your children, being unvaccinated, can pass this along to his/her classmates who have small infants at home.

    There was nothing so troubling as seeing my niece in the hospital (2 months old) struggling to take in each and every breath. Once I witnessed that, there was no question in my mind that I would ABSOLUTELY vaccinate my kids.

    Also your anecdotal/pseudo-scientific study on “herd immunity” and/or “natural wellness” isn’t based on any kind of science and you need to educate yourself to true intent of vaccinations. I have three healthy kids that have been stuck with so many needles that I lost count years ago. I put my trust in the “science”, because these people know what they are doing.

    Just look at what is happening in California (the epicenter of the holistic/natural wellness approach) and the EXPLOSION of pertussis; which has been the worst in 50 years!!! Good job, DaisyMay, it is people like you that have taken our country back to the dark-ages.

  19. I think it’s telling that you and the doctor singled out Jenny McCarthy – a woman, and one who has a child with autism and therefor had a vested interest in spreading the information she honestly believed about the link between vaccinations and autism – as a “publicity hound,” rather than the male doctor who actually perpetuated the fraud. A woman who speaks up vocally about an important issue, even if she ends up being wrong, is not automatically some attention-seeker, and I’m very disappointed in Mr. Doctorow for implying it. As far as I know, Ms. McCarthy has not issued a public retraction of her stance, and I can understand being frustrated at that. But it does not entitle you to single her out as the lone voice of what was in fact a very large group of celebrities and advocates.

    Also, this plan is incredibly sloppy thinking when it comes to government and public health policy. Setting rates based on behavior that you don’t approve of means that rates can be set based more or less arbitrarily; higher rates for smokers, or homosexuals, or surfers, or anyone who is profiled as “higher risk” to themselves or others. It opens the door to restricting behavior that the state does not approve of, and that is obviously the last road we want to be going (any further) down.

    1. “Ms. McCarthy has not issued a public retraction of her stance, and I can understand being frustrated at that. But it does not entitle you to single her out as the lone voice of what was in fact a very large group of celebrities and advocates.”

      Good news everybody! People who use their celebrity, and the trust that a large segment of the population ascribe to being famous, to advance unscientific and dangerous beliefs onto the public at large are not accountable for their actions!

      Look… Jenny McCarthy went out of her way to be a ‘face’ of the anti-vac movement. She “Singled Out” herself.

    2. @Abe Froman — It’s not a gender thing. McCarthy has done more damage than the moronic doctor who committed fraud and got this started. Without McCarthy marching around and spreading what has already been demonstrated to be false a lot of kids would be safer today.

    3. I thought McCarthy’s kid had been misdiagnosed with autism, and actually had Landau-Kleffner syndrome? While I certainly have sympathy for her and her child’s health issues, I think the fact that she put herself out there as a spokesperson for a movement based on irrationality, fear and desperation certainly does excuse someone singling her out. And I don’t think gender had anything to do with this criticism.

      I do think that US and British authorities should investigate the possibility of charging Wakefield with fraud, since there are now allegations that he had plans to profit from stirring up doubt over current vaccines with his “research”.

  20. If having children vaccinated is deemed to be part of the minimum standard of care, then parents or guardians who refuse to vaccinate their children without a valid medical reason (such as allergy to a particular vaccine) should face negligence or abuse charges and possibly lose custody of their children.

    It is also reasonable to make admission to schools, daycare, and similar places contingent on being properly vaccinated, unless there is a valid medical reason why a child cannot receive a vaccine, in order to protect other children who either cannot be vaccinated or on whom the vaccine happens to be ineffective.

    Parents make all kinds of questionable decisions in raising their children, but there is also a great deal of discomfort at the thought of turning over all decision-making to the state: most people acknowledge a basic right of parents to raise their children in accordance with their own personal values and beliefs. Deciding how to determine when a parent’s questionable child-rearing practice rises to the level of neglect or abuse and therefore subject to state intervention can be quite tricky.

    The larger problem is the widespread distrust of both government and drug companies — some of which is justified — combined with gullibility and trust for people who either don’t know what they’re talking about or don’t care that they’re being misleading. Combined with an appallingly low level of basic scientific literacy, this results in well-intentioned but fearful and ignorant people drawing the wrong conclusions and making bad decisions. It’s a difficult problem to solve, but I suspect that a punitive measure like higher insurance premiums is likely to backfire, because it plays right in to the distrust of government and the health industry and can easily be spun by pseudoscience peddlers as yet more evidence of a scary authoritarian government and it’s big pharma lackeys whose only two goals in life are to steal your money and poison your children.

  21. I don’t think you quite get herd immunity. Not everyone has to be vaccinated for it to be conferred on a population, though a vast majority of the population does have to be. That number varies based on the transmission rates and speed of the disease.

    So some kids not being vaccinated isn’t that big a deal. In fact, some kids with immunodeficiencies or illnesses or even allergies are incapable of safely getting vaccinations, but are protected because others do get vaccinated.

    So saying that anyone refusing vaccinations should not be allowed in school is a little draconian. An insurance penalty might make sense barring a contra-indicating situation, but the kids will still come in contact with other people in sports, malls, movie theaters, etc. It would be ludicrous to ban these kids from any public activity based on vaccination.

  22. I find it interesting that everyone’s bashing Daisy for underusing drugs, but I have yet to get an “amen” on the problem of overusing drugs.

    1. @Snig — Yes, overuse of antibiotics is a problem and does lead to the so-called superbugs. It is not a good thing, nor are all the antibiotic creams and soaps.

      However, it’s not the topic of the post, and maybe the reason no one is focusing on what you want to focus on is that you are off topic.

      1. An increased likelihood of childhood diseases because of the unscientific action of overutilizing a drug is completely different from the increased likelihood of childhood diseases because of the unscientific action of underusing a drug/vaccine. And there’s no one making money from fearmongering of diseases in order to sell antibiotics or antibacterial creams. Don’t know how I saw a similarity. Thank you for your help.

  23. I wonder if the author of the article also extends the “should pay higher premiums” to people who engage in any statistically significant risky behavior. Homosexuals, for example: should they pay higher premiums because traditionally AIDS is more common in that population?

    In general, I think the insurance premium/financial cost argument has been shown to be pretty specious. As an example, I remember when seat-belt laws were enacted. The argument was that people who drove without them were not only endangering themselves, but they were hurting everyone by causing higher premiums. Well, the laws were enacted, but –not surprisingly, really — the rates didn’t go down.

    This is just one example, but there are many others.

    What the author is suggesting could result in larger profits for the insurance companies, but you’d be a fool to think that any economic advantage would be passed on.

    1. @Ambiguity — Being a homosexual is not a high risk behavior, you homophobe. Having unprotected sex is. In Africa the vast majority of HIV infections are amongst heterosexuals, and in the United States the fastest growing population is straight women.

      1. I’m not a homophobe — I’m making a point. The fact that the fastest growing population with AIDS in the US is heterosexual women doesn’t change the statistical fact that even today gays are more likely to have AIDs than non-gays, so by this guy’s logic, they should pay more.

        There are other factors too. Poor people are less healthy than the affluent, so should poor people have to pay more too?

        The point I was trying to make — which may have been a little subtle and nuanced for an Internet blog — is not that gays should pay more for insurance, but that this “doctor’s” entire argument is flawed. But I guess your soapbox got in the way of seeing that!

        1. And then you blithely ignored huntsu’s other comment that in “Africa the vast majority of HIV infections are amongst heterosexuals”. So the statement that “even today gays are more likely to have AIDs than non-gays”* is of course not true. You made a false statement to illustrate your point. huntsu wasn’t on a soapbox, he was calling you on it.

          *Oh, and you can have HIV and still not have AIDS.

          1. And then you blithely ignored huntsu’s other comment that in “Africa the vast majority of HIV infections are amongst heterosexuals”

            That’s funny: I didn’t realize the original article was about vaccination in Africa and African insurance rates.

            And he was on a soapbox, as is evidenced by his “homophobe” comment. I’ll give you a little hint: he doesn’t know what my sexual orientation is.

            My statement wasn’t false — I was specifically speaking of the US, and that was clear from my posting.

            But both of you have now ignored the point I was trying to make, instead responding to the example I used to illustrate the fundamental flaw in this guy’s argument.

            According to the most recent CDC data, homosexual sex is riskier than heterosexual sex. This is not a moral judgment — it’s just a statement of the situation as it exists today. The original writer of the article, who seems to be a shill of the insurance companies, argues that people who engage in risky behavior should pay more. I happen to not agree, but I think the point should be made because a lot of people do seem to agree with them, and I don’t think they’ve really thought through what the implications of that agreement it.

          2. I see your point, and you should also point out that women who only have sex with women are much less likely to acquire HIV than heterosexuals with a similar number of partners. So they should get a discount, (or have heterosexuals pay a breeder tax) according to the flawed argument initially suggested.

          3. I see your point, and you should also point out that women who only have sex with women are much less likely to acquire HIV than heterosexuals with a similar number of partners. So they should get a discount, (or have heterosexuals pay a breeder tax) according to the flawed argument initially suggested.


            People are getting a little Pavlovian about certain examples — perhaps understandably — so perhaps a different course should be taken.

            The recently passed health-care reform — which, it seems, is pretty widely supported at BB — has as its lynch-pin compulsory participation, which is to say that healthy people are to be made to participate so that they can subsidize the unhealthy. Definitionally they will be required to “pay more than their fair share,” because if they were only “paying their fair share,” their premiums would only cover their associated costs (plus whatever profit participants are being forced to subsidize).

            The author of the article is arguing from a mutually exclusive point-of-view. Insurance isn’t seen as a “spreading of the risk:” it’s seen as a “fair share” thing, or perhaps as a stick with which to hit people with then they behave in a manner the author doesn’t think is good. This is also roughly analogous to arguing against progressive taxes: many (most) people think that progressive taxes, in which those who can afford to pay more do pay more, are more ethical than a straight or flat tax.

            I hope that people who think this guy’s ideas are good are against health care reform, and I hope that those who are in favor of health care reform think this guy is full of it, because at least there will be some consistency in their thought if they do. Societally we tend to get in trouble when we vote for both bread and circuses!

          4. We’re responding to your flawed argument. You stated “Homosexuals, for example: should they pay higher premiums because traditionally AIDS is more common in that population?” That’s assuming that homosexuals are still the highest risk group and that all homosexuals are potential HIV carriers. That’s a lot of assuming. huntsu was merely pointing out that making such a flawed argument on a comment thread makes you sound like someone who fears teh gays because they all have teh aids. No one gives a damn about your sexual orientation. You could be a homophobe or self-loathing. And he did clearly answer your original claim by stating that straight women are the most at-risk.

            So, the highest at-risk group in the US: straight women. The highest instances of HIV/AIDS globally: straight people in Africa.

          5. OK. Here’s the CDC stats:


            Men who have sex with men do still represent the largest percentage of new HIV cases in the US.

            However, huntsu’s original point was that HIV/AIDS globally is now a heterosexual disease and that women in the US are the fastest growing group.

            Personally, whenever I see someone making that gay=AIDS argument, it always raises a red flag (i.e. I will jump to a conclusion). That’s my bad and I will own up to it.

          6. However, huntsu’s original point was that HIV/AIDS globally is now a heterosexual disease and that women in the US are the fastest growing group.

            Yes, it is my understanding that these points are true.

            Personally, whenever I see someone making that gay=AIDS argument, it always raises a red flag (i.e. I will jump to a conclusion). That’s my bad and I will own up to it.

            I should have chosen a different example, owing to how emotionally charged this issue is.

            (But it’s actually hard to come up with examples that aren’t emotionally charged! For example:

            Obese people are less healthy than the non-obese, so should they pay more?

            Poor people are fatter than the affluent, so should the poor pay more?

            Intelligent people are more prone to depression, so should they pay more?

            It seems that all the good examples have some emotional content.)

      2. Being a homosexual is not a high risk behavior, you homophobe.

        He’s not being a homophobe. He’s pointing out that there was a long period of time when many Americans thought that gay men should be denied health insurance or pay higher premiums because we were a higher health risk.

        I disagree vehemently with this proposal because it’s the antithesis of socialized medicine or even of the idea of health insurance spreading the financial risk if illness. Raising the premiums would only punish the children of the idiots who refuse to vaccinate. I propose instead that anyone whose child dies of a communicable disease because of parental refusal should be charged with manslaughter.

        1. I propose instead that anyone whose child dies of a communicable disease because of parental refusal should be charged with manslaughter.

          Because, you know, the parent of a dead child hasn’t suffered enough.

          Why not just make sure they understand they had the option to protect their child and that their choice was a factor in their child’s death? Won’t that be enough?

          Every time I look at my daughter’s face and see the tiny scar next to her eye from chickenpox, I know that I refused the vaccine, and it tears off a little piece of my soul. Think what the parent of a child who died of pertussis feels. Try to let your own humanity admit to theirs.

          1. Someone’s child is dead because of their own bad decisions and they feel bad about it? Boo fucking hoo. Killing a child due to negligent idiocy deserves a lengthy jail term. Children aren’t possessions. They’re people with their own lives independent of their relationship to you. You don’t get to move on with your life after you kill them through negligence.

          2. You are probably going to 86 me, I’m sorry but here goes.

            There was nothing moderate about your moderator’s comment to Ito, yes I know it could argued that one is not inclusive of another but you set a standard for all of us here.

            Hope you don’t get angry with me, I mean no harm by it. It just seemed a little nasty to me. I could be wrong.

          3. Hurt feelings vs. dead children. No equivalency.

            Read the news and you’ll see case after case of parents who killed their children via neglect and got off easy because they were bereaved parents. It’s not a theoretical issue.

          4. As a parent I truly appreciate both your and Ito’s positions, however I find that yours is more akin to hyperbole and intolerant of Ito’s opinion. I mean, what are we supposed to say here? You are the moderator therefore, your opinion is not only right but excusably devoid of consideration of your commenters? But, I digress. Sadly, this is comment #176 on a topic that Cory is somewhat obsessive about. OK, we get it. Vaccines good, even godly. Non-vaccines tantamount to a epidemiological holocaust.

            I swear, nay I promise! To accept your word from here on out and to never doubt it again. Now what did you do to earn this obeisance from me?

          5. Did you have to push your fellow students around school in their wheelchairs because they had polio? Did your neighbors have funerals for their babies and small children who died of infectious diseases? People in the US actually used to get smallpox. Infectious disease was rampant, and children are almost always the victims. It’s not hyperbole. It’s an account of what life was like before widespread vaccination.

          6. I occasionally had to help out my aunt, who was crippled by polio as a child, but I don’t see that as relevant to the question of punishing people for not vaccinating.

            Some people want to educate others, and show them a better way, and some people want to beat the cursed infidels and make them bleed for their evil deeds. One chooses one’s path; in the case of vaccinations, I am with the persuaders & educators.

          7. You don’t get to move on with your life after you kill them through negligence.

            I believe that’s my point, not yours.

            Your idea, as I recall, was that one could pay for the death of a child by being imprisoned.

        2. “I propose instead that anyone whose child dies of a communicable disease because of parental refusal should be charged with manslaughter”

          I wonder if you want to punish the obedient subjects who vaccinate their children who happen to be allergics and who die of the vaccination as well.

          We are talking about risk management here, nothing else. I agree that the arguments against most vaccinations are stupid, by the way. I can still respect people who arrive at a different opinion when weighing the risks.

          And I don’t understand this aggressiveness. People who drive a car are statistically far more likely to kill a child than parents who refuse vaccination. Do you drive a car?

  24. I enjoy nothing more than goading my son’s pulmunologist into ranting about the anti-vaccine nutballs. The usual rant is that, inevitably, some fool like DaisyMay decides that she ought to do this ‘naturally’ and ends up with whooping cough for her and her kids and is horrified that there is no treatment for three months of coughing fits. ‘There is a treatment — it involves a time machine and the fucking vaccine we’ve been offering you since your baby was born’ — of course, his bedside manner is far too nice for this, but it’s fun to see his inner dialogue on display.

  25. “I’m sorry Mr. Jones we’ve determined from your genetic profile that your future risk of autoimmune diseases means that in order for you retain insurance, you will be required to contribute approximately 500% more to the insurance pool than the average contributor. It’s only fair. Yes, we know you have no control over your genetic makeup, but your risks require greater contributions than those without them.”

    Certainly more extreme than consciously deciding to not immunize, but the same logic for increased risk follows this path, does it not? Where is the line drawn?

  26. By pushing people to vaccinate their kids, in order to protect YOUR kids, you convince a lot of people that there is some other motive behind vaccinations. The more the plutocracy pushes this so openly, the more they convince people it’s a plot.

    Forcing people to get unwanted medical treatment, shouldn’t that be illegal?

    1. @allie — You’re right. We should not do the right thing for millions of people because some idiots might make up a conspiracy theory.

      It’s not about MY kids, it’s about ALL kids.

  27. love how my comment was censored.

    could BB mods explain how huntsu’s last 2 posts ‘advance the topic?’

    done with BB.

    1. love how my comment was censored. could BB mods explain how huntsu’s last 2 posts ‘advance the topic?’ done with BB.

      Your comment was held by the system due to too many links. But since you’re done with us, I’ll just turn off your unused account so that you needn’t be bothered by it. I wish you luck in all your future endeavors.

  28. Ridiculous, because: The moneypots (both pharmaceuticals and insurance companies) are privately owned.
    – bike riders are more vulnerable in traffic. higher insurance?
    – same goes for pedestrians.
    – the costs related to alcohol abuse are higher than those related to smoking, so higher premiums if you drink.

    The discussion about vaccination is flawed because of the financial interests of private companies. What we need is a public programme, with publicly owned production of vaccines and public funded research. Until this happens this discussion will be pointless.

    Remember the ridiculous measurements taken with the flu last year; some people made a lot of money with that scam…

    1. well, it wasn’t a scam. you’re tooting the horn of these a**holes who desperately try to discredit vaccinations, generelly to enlargen the market for homeopathic treatments (which are a scam, indeed), i’m sorry to say.
      the swine flu last year was a h1n1 virus. h1n1 killed an estimated 50-100 million people in 1918/19. there were other outbraks (like in russia in the 70s, but i can’t find fatality numbers right now. everything but reacting on that possible threat would have been utterly irresponsible.
      that last year’
      s h1n1 strain quickly became rather harmless was pure luck. it didn’t look that way in the beginning.
      as you might not know, flu vaccines don’t consist of some chemicals you mix together. viruses have to be bred in chicken eggs, harvested, killed and then converted into a vaccine.
      so in addition top the normal flu vaccine pharmaceutic industry had to build up new resources for producing this vaccine, and quickly. the price for a vaccination here in germany was about 7 euros. that, given the effort needed to produce it, was rather cheap. (yes, the pharmaceutic industry charges outrageous prices for some medicines, but not for this one.)
      on a personal note, i used to be an avid critic of the pharmaceutical industry, i belived that genetic engineering should be forbidden, and was one of these morons who thought everything natural is good (if you belive this, go and eat some death caps, and you might live just long enough to see your error). then i became a (type 1) diabetic. to put it short, without the pharmaceutical industry i would have died in 1998. thanks to genetically modified yeast i can live a normal, healthy life.

  29. While I do believe that vaccination records should be required for public school use, I don’t think higher health insurance premiums should be applied to anybody: smoker, non-vaccinated, rock-climber, sky-diver, or the obese. Maybe that’s just because I’m Canadian.

    1. I agree with this 100% – but I’m a 23 year old living in the US, who has had cancer twice, and is doomed to be fucked up the ass by health insurance premiums for the rest of my life here.

    2. You obviously misunderstand insurance. Insisting that nobody pays higher premiums for indulging in risky activity, means that those who don’t so indulge, pay higher premiums than they would otherwise need to. So your “nobody should pay higher premiums” means some do. Paradoxical, eh?

      Insurance is a pooling of risk, but unless you want the pool to be “everybody, for every risk” (in which case commercial insurance is irrelevant and it might as well default to a state scheme, like social security, but with equalised contributions) then premiums MUST vary.

        1. Yeah – sorry – I was talking about insurance in general. Not health insurance in north America. I live in a civilised society where access to basic healthcare is not dependent on wealth. My bad (not taking into account the uncivilised madness of US healthcare policy)

  30. The anti-vax crowd was dealt a stunning blow when Andrew Wakefield was exposed as an utter fraud. It’s time to follow that up with reasonable, factual, public discussion of the risks vs benefits of vaccinations. There’s no need to resort to fear mongering when you have the facts on your side.

  31. I love posts like these. They are like a lightning rod for every sociopathic libertarian-a-like that wants all the benefits of living in the modern world whilst contributing nothing back.

    The article has the right idea, but it’s even more simple than that. Raise their taxes if they want to stay anti-vaxxers and watch their ‘deeply held concerns’ evaporate in the face of their greed. Their ideology of extreme selfishness shouldn’t be allowed to risk everyone’s health and safety.

    As for Ms. McCarthy, there really aren’t any words harsh enough for a person that profiteers from harming children. Still, managing to be less dignified and respected by putting on her clothes is certainly an achievement of sorts, I suppose.

  32. Humbly report, anon found this on teh internets, so it must be true:

    “There have been already discovered five times in history and in different countries that when a vaccine was introduced that contained aborted fetal cell lines, and thus lab propagated human DNA residuals, there was a marked increase in the diagnosis of autism.”

    The tl;dr version is that autism is God’s punishment for using vaccines derived from ZOMG ABORTED BABIES.

    A Dr. Theresa Deisher appears to be behind this. Apparently the prolifers are about to start refusing vaccination.

  33. I remember when I was a kid (in Portugal), we had to give copies of our vaccination certificates (a little booklet where all vaccines were registered) upon registration at the start of each school year. The idea was exactly this, a kid wasn’t allowed (in theory) to go to school without all vaccines that were needed. I’m 33 now, so this was throughout the 80s/early 90s.
    I have no idea how widespread this practice is nowadays, both in Portugal and elsewhere, but what I know is that Portugal has had one of the most drastic reductions in child mortality in the world in the past three decades, and it has stayed low. Say what you want about the socialist economic dumpster the country is nowadays, but facts are facts. Kids can die from these apparentl harmless diseases, and a parent that does not vaccine their children is not worthy of being a parent, period.

  34. I’ve had measles, whooping cough, and chickenpox, that I remember. I’ve probably had all of what used to be called “childhood diseases”. That used to be typical for most kids. And very few kids died of those diseases. The result? I have one small chicken pox scar and when I have a cold I have a really hacking cough which my family claims is due to whooping cough.

    Since I no longer trust whoever makes these vaccines, I no longer take flu shots. I don’t want a shot full of mercury or formaldehyde. The drug companies have lied so much (I could give you a list) that I no longer trust them. I try to get my doctor to only prescribe medications that were approved more than 10 years ago. If the thimerisol in vaccines is harmless, why did the drug companies get the Republicans to secretly insert a provision into the Homeland Security Act protecting them from liability for harm caused by vaccines. Sounds like they knew something we didn’t. When they act guilty, we think they are guilty.

    Frist Inoculates Drug Makers for Any Vaccine Liability

    1. Allie, please, for the love of GOD, do the due diligence and get the record straight. Could you possible spew any more pseudo-science and myth in one post than you just did.

      Please realize that drug companies profits from vaccinations is a VERY SMALL percentage of their profits. As for Frist sticking up for the drug companies; I tend to agree. He noticed the influx of anti-vaxers (like yourself) who think doctors, scientists, statisticians, chemists (with their highfalutin college degrees) know nothing about how the human immune system work and you do. I’m betting that your education barely spans past high school, but I’m just generalizing.

      Moreover, Allie, having whopping cough (pertussis), measles, or chicken pox as a child or adolescent is not as serious as a newborn infant contracting those maladies. Please, ignorant people like you are why these diseases are making a comeback in our nation. Just think, we almost had polio TOTALLY eradicated from the population, but hey GUESS FUCKING WHAT??!! Yup, it is making a comeback. Hmm, I wonder why?

      Please start reading the medical journals and get your nose out of the tabloid magazines or turn off Oprah for two minutes and do some due diligence.


      1. Moreover, Allie, having whopping cough (pertussis), measles, or chicken pox as a child or adolescent is not as serious as a newborn infant contracting those maladies.

        Infants are protected by the passive immunity they acquire from their mothers, which lasts several weeks or months, and longer if the baby is breastfed. That is why childhood diseases usually don’t occur in infants.

        I was not convinced that vaccines might be harmful by some article in a British Journal or by some minor Hollywood celebrity. I was convinced by the drug companies demanding and getting legal protection from liability. They clearly didn’t want to depend on evidence in court. They wanted laws to shield them regardless of the evidence. Why did they need that if they weren’t putting out a harmful product.

        1. Please please please I beg you, if you’re going to make a decision on a scientific issue (and this is very much a well studied and well explored scientific issue), please use actual science and not your own speculation about the intent of legislators.

          The actual science is clear: while some vaccinations have a tiny, miniscule risk of complications (NOT RELATED TO THIOMEROSAL) the benefit to yourself and society far outweighs the potential harm.

        2. When I was younger, a family member who was a breastfed baby almost died from pertussis. I have months of medical treatment to thank for his life, not passive immunity, which apparently isn’t enough. I suspect some research would find this is not unusual; the main reason babies don’t get pertussis is because it is not common, because other people take measures against it.

    2. Your ignorance of reality beleagers belief.

      1) There is no thiomersal in vaccines in the US.
      2) There is NO thiomersal in vaccines in the US.
      3) THERE IS NO thiomersal IN VACCINES IN THE US.

      This is, of course, besides the point that the World Health Orgainization has conclusive studies that there are no ill affects from thiomersal.

      As for why they added the provision in the homeland security act:

      “This will reduce the ability of anti-vaccine litigation to undermine the provisions of the NCVIA and imperil the U.S. vaccine supplies.”

      Because morons like you don’t even KNOW what is in the vaccines you would demonize.

      1. Blaine, you need to check your facts. According to the CDC, there were over 75 million doses of flu vaccine made with thimerosal distributed in the USA in 2010. According to my friend the pharmaceutical inspector, thimerosal was pretty much taken off the market due to the autism hysteria, but it was re-introduced during the H1N1 hysteria because it makes manufacturing and storing vaccines cheaper, which in turn increases the profits of the drug zaibatsus.

    3. “I’ve had measles, whooping cough, and chickenpox, that I remember. I’ve probably had all of what used to be called “childhood diseases”. That used to be typical for most kids. And very few kids died of those diseases. The result? I have one small chicken pox scar and when I have a cold I have a really hacking cough which my family claims is due to whooping cough.”

      So what, because it didn’t kill YOU, it’s ok? Only a few kids died so it’s ok? I had chicken pox as a child too and ended up just fine. My little brother, however, had it in his LUNGS and came very close to dying.

      I guess there really is no way to fix stupid….

    4. why did the drug companies get the Republicans to secretly insert a provision into the Homeland Security Act protecting them from liability for harm caused by vaccines

      Because the government was the one mandating people use these vaccines, so the drug companies should not be liable, the govt should?

      I’m not saying that’s what is the legal situation at present (and I am not even in the USA, so don’t go citing all sorts of US laws at me) but the general principle is sound, even if the HS Act was not the right time and place (and I know nothing about the “secretly” allegation).

  35. Okay, this always bears repeating:

    The immune systems of children in the US are not “being overwhelmed” with immunizations. Your immune system doesn’t know or care how many separate injections are given, or how many diseases they protect against – it only knows how many antigens are being presented to it.

    Never mind that the immune challenge from immunizations is dwarfed by the constant barrage of antigens that we are encounter from our contact with the outside world. The current vaccine schedule presents far far fewer antigens than the vaccine schedule of a generation ago. Replacing the whole cell pertussis vaccine with the acellular pertussis vaccine slashed the number of different antigens presented by vaccination. In the reality-based world of a pediatric clinic, we also saw a tenfold decrease in the rate of fevers the night after vaccinations.

    The current vaccine phobia among otherwise educated and affluent parents does have one bright spot – the gap in immunization coverage between poor and rich is closing, albeit by dragging down the latter’s coverage as much as by increasing the former’s.

  36. Thanks for researching the biochemistry of this topic so thoroughly as you do for other topics. Oh wait, you didn’t.

  37. While I’ve chosen to have my son vaccinated with the full US schedule (which is, I suspect, a little over-cautious, but this is a different point than I want to make), I wonder whether there are some legitimate reasons an individual would not want to vaccinate besides religious conviction against vaccination itself. For example, there are nearly a billion people in the world (more than a million in the US, half a million in the UK) for whom cows are sacred animals, but according to the US CDC, bovine materials are widely used in the manufacture of vaccines ( and others). Further, there are a large number of non-religious vegetarians who would prefer not to support the slaughter of animals — and this is to say nothing of vegans who would also prefer not to have vaccinations grown in egg-based media. Finally, many individuals pay high premiums for organic/biological foods and textiles to avoid feeding their children preservatives and/or contributing to their manufacture, while preservatives are necessary to the manufacture, distribution, and storage of vaccinations ( and others). This is not the tired old point about thiomersal/merthiolate, which no longer appears in pediatric vaccines in many industrialized countries.

  38. Parents who won’t vaccinate their kids should be reviewed by social services for their intellectual inability to be competent parents. They obviously lack rudimentary medical knowledge.

  39. Today a child who is fully vaccinated receives anywhere from 37-50 vaccines during their early years (which is a lot for a developing immune system to handle especially considering these diseases are rarely encountered all at once in the natural environment as they are in combined vaccinations). The DPT vaccine alone forces an immune response in children to diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis in the same day. There are NO studies or scientific research on the effects of multiple viral and bacterial vaccines given simultaneously or in close succession. The contamination of vaccines is also of concern (see SV40 virus found in tainted polio vaccines 1950’s through 1963). Merck has also admitted that their vaccine (Recombivax HB) which is recommended for administration on the first day of life has, in fact, only been tested on 5 and 10 year olds. Merck further admits that systemic complaints occurred in 17% of all injections. David Kessler, head of the FDA throughout the 1990’s contends that 90-99% of adverse reactions to vaccinations are never reported as such. Take a look at the US smallpox vaccination program of 2003. Death rates from those receiving the vaccine were actually 80 times higher than what the CDC had anticipated (And told the public to expect) and serious adverse reactions were 7 times higher. According to a 1990 Journal of American Medicine Assoc. article “Although more than 95% of school-aged children in the US are vaccinated against measles, large measles outbreaks continue to occur in schools and most cases occur among previously vaccinated children.”
    What is needed from today’s parents is not blind acceptance of what either side of the ‘vaccine’ debate purports but an active involvement in obtaining a thorough understanding of the diseases they are exposing their children to. What we need less of? The likes of Merck and Jenny McCarthy spouting claims that are largely misrepresented or altogether wrong.

  40. @DaisyMarie – while I highly doubt you’re still reading this because of all the negative comments, if you happen to be a masochist then please understand that I’m the person you’d murder with your “Healthy immune system” children.

    You see, at 40 years old I have spinal arthritis (Yay me!) and the medicine I take to help me cope suppresses my immune system to keep it from attacking my own body. This also means that I am highly susceptible to infectious disease. If I even THINK that I might have come in close contact with someone that has tuberculosis I’m to report to the hospital immediately.

    I urge you and anyone else reading to talk to your grandparents (or people over 70) Learn from them what it was like to have their friends disappear one by one over the summer and never return to school. No one tells a child their friend is dead if they can avoid it.

    The worst part of vaccines is that they’re a victim of their own success. They WORK and you never had to deal with the horrors of Whooping Cough (now epidemic in California) etc. So you think to yourself “Why bother to get my kids vaccinated? Stuff like that doesn’t happen anymore”

    And to the guy that thinks that Polio was eradicated, it’s not, not by a long shot…

  41. I’m not sure I understand why people would be worried about unvaccinated people going to public places, if you are vaccinated then doesn’t that protect you, or am I missing something.

  42. People who ski / use tanning booths / perform home motor repair also need higher insurance rates. In fact, someone ought to follow you around noting every dangerous thing you are currently free to choose to do wrong.

    in other words, this idea is bollocks.

  43. There have been an alarming number of anti-vaxers in this comment thread. It amazes me that anyone who chooses to read boingboing regularly can hold such obnoxiously ignorant views on epidemiology. I think I need to go to for a lie-down.

  44. I think it is because I don’t mess with the way nature intended things to be.

    You’re absolutely right that vaccinations are unnatural. What’s natural is children dying of polio.

  45. Well, vaccinated for what? Everything that can get through FDA approval?

    Consumer Reports magazine (highly regarded data oriented product testing magazine) says that vaccine reactions are under reported by at least 4x.

    What about people who shouldn’t get vaccines? My wife’s family has a history of severe and abnormal reactions, from an infant who screamed for 36h and then died after being vaccinated to my wife’s current reaction to getting a tetanus shot (swelling and weakness for days afterwords, just on the edge of abnormal).

    The anti vaccine book “A Shot In The Dark” just wanted doctors to read and follow the insert on the vaccine, and to not give further shots of the DPT vaccine (a 4 shot series) if the child showed side effects after any of the injections, just as directions say, but far too few doctors do.

    Vaccines are not harmless, and we can predict with a useful degree of accuracy who will be more likely to have issues, we should make use of that knowledge.

    Oh, and what are we going to do about misuse of antibiotics? We’ve had doctors give them to our kids despite our being clear that we only wanted them if the doc thought it was not a virus, and yet we have had them give us prescriptions for things they thought were viral (but hey, the doc is doing something).

  46. I find it fascinating that in the “Developed” world people with heads full of psuedo-science bang on about their “rights” to raise children at increased risk of damaging and deadly diseases.

    You know, in the “Developing” world people line up for DAYS on end to get these life-saving vaccinations for their children?

    So, who loves their kids more?

  47. says the guy who speaks out against the “three strikes and your internet is gone” laws as an over reach of power by government.
    Surprising how enlightened a person can be in one aspect of the world but not in another.

    I see two major problems with vaccines: First, they have not been around so long as to say they are not having a negative effect on humans along with the more obvious positive effects. Second, there is not a lot of easily accessible INDEPENDENT research being done to say what the effects positive or negative actually are.

    There are reasons that there was a “don’t vaccinate your children” bandwagon for celebrities to jump on and for this Dr. Fraud to exploit. If you’re going to hate on something, why not that?

    1. says the guy who speaks out against the “three strikes and your internet is gone” laws as an over reach of power by government.
      Surprising how enlightened a person can be in one aspect of the world but not in another.

      Challenging a government does not equal thinking there should be no government. While it isn’t perfect, Governments are essentially organizations that carry out the will of the people. The people can simultaneously tell the government the three strikes rule is not okay while telling the government we need to require vaccination. We can also tell the government which diseases to require vaccinations for, and if we really had the will we could dictate where those vaccines are researched/developed/produced. Are special interests a concern? Yes obviously, but baby and bathwater and all that.

      I see two major problems with vaccines: First, they have not been around so long as to say they are not having a negative effect on humans along with the more obvious positive effects. Second, there is not a lot of easily accessible INDEPENDENT research being done to say what the effects positive or negative actually are.

      Epidemiology isn’t wizardry. I can’t comprehend what your definition of independent is based on the body of research by various organizations that exists. The science is actually in.

      There are reasons that there was a “don’t vaccinate your children” bandwagon for celebrities to jump on and for this Dr. Fraud to exploit. If you’re going to hate on something, why not that?

      The reason for that bandwagon was an unexplained increase in autism coupled with a fraudulent study. This does not give the anti-vaccine movement credence. Only further proof that we are gullible.

      1. I understand how democratic governments work. I just found the POV that showing a vaccination certificate to get into a public park a bit shocking when it comes to Mr. Doctorow based on his views regarding government control of the internet. Don’t control this aspect of everyone’s life because I understand how it could be heavy handed and harmful, but do control this other aspect because it won’t affect me and what I think is right. That has nothing to do with democracy.

        There are issues with the science of vaccines- just because the “science is in” doesn’t mean it is perfect. From what I have gathered, there is not a lot of independent research done by organisations that do not stand to benefit from vaccines being seen as miracle drugs. Not enough to fight the view that there are only positives to vaccinations, clearly.

        Nothing is only good, for every action there is a reaction. There have been spikes in juvenile auto-immune diseases, asthma, SIDS, infant-diabetes etc. (in the US) not just autism since vaccines have come on the scene. Are vaccines the cause of this? We don’t know because there are not study results to say yea or nay… insert bandwagon and exploitation.

  48. I’m not against the risky life style == more cost for insurance idea. It’s logical and fair. However, if something like this were going to be implemented, then I think that logic and fairness should be the first and most important consideration, and ALL forms of risky lifestyle should be included. This includes rock climbing, motorcycle riding, skiing, snowboarding, driving in general, and your diet. There’s a sense of “moral purity” that I find a little gross that typically surrounds this discussion, that uses this argument as rationale to discriminate against smokers, or people who participate in a lifestyle that you disapprove of. As long as fairness is not being used as camouflage for discrimination, then I don’t have a problem with it.

    1. This is preposterous.
      You’re really not trying to conflate a rock climber with someone who risks spreading disease, are you?
      It’s not even close to the same thing. Not even on the same fucking planet.

  49. We’re all on our high horses and are going in circles. When someone’s horse looks vulnerable, we beat it way past death. Some of us tilt at windmills. Most of us are claiming the other sides are actually on sacred cows, are one of the riders of the apocalypse, or both. We’re all stubborn as mules. Some of us are just horsing around. Same thing that always happens on the internets.

  50. Each vaccine should be a balance between the risks of contracting the subject of the vaccination and the severity of symptoms versus the risks of complications from vaccination in the first place. With regards to MMR, the balance of the equation happens to favour vaccination. However, this is not at all clear for all vaccinations, and this determination needs to be made on a case by case basis, and is also subject to prevailing conditions. For instance, when swine/bird flu was reportedly on the verge of epidemic status, the balance shifted further towards vaccination given this risks of contracting the flu were substantially increased.

    A flat rise in insurance premiums would likely allow for governments to shift the balance of their equation for vaccination, which, in contrast to the purely self-interested equation above, also includes cost of vaccination and public perception of action or inaction against a health threat or scare. I expect this would make the work of doctors whose interest lies purely in the most efficient way to prevent disease much more difficult.

  51. I saw what you just did there.

    The medical-industrial complex is running the country into the ground. Between big pharma and for-profit insurance, actual standards of public health are the least important angle, far less important than making money and keeping people in line.

    yet while I’ve never heard you defend the fairness or efficiency of the medical insurance industry/racket, you’re happy to place one more burden of social control onto this house of cards. Yeah, right. because clearly, people who aren’t getting enough medical care need to see their rates go up before they’ll take the problem seriously.

    Cory, do you have any idea how crazy that sounds?

    This sounds a lot like what we saw when Sicko came out. Never mind what Micheal Moore is saying, just point out that he’s fat, and imply that most of our health problems are because we’re all too lazy to go out and get some exercise.

    It’s cheap and easy for a medical professional to stick a needle in someone and give them a one-size fits all dose of medicine that benefits everyone, way out of proportion to the financial cost. Why isn’t it so easy for an adult in this country to get a check-up, before they actually need help?

    You want to blame someone for these avoidable epidemics, why not look at the ones throttling our access to dental care, and regular check-ups?

    We need socialized medicine in this country, *and* we need better vaccination rates. I don’t think we can get one without the other.

      1. Imagine a health care system as if it were the library, or public roads… Some small bit of education and training are necessary to make best use of this public good. Lessons in using the card catalog, driver’s licenses… you get the idea.

        The way to train people to use a health care system responsibly, is to get them into the system, actually give them some health care.

        If the authorities can’t be bothered to help us take care of our adult bodies during the day to day, then how do you expect us to suddenly care that our children might get someone other children sick?

        Vaccination is the tip of the iceberg. You can’t blame a sunken ship on just the part that was showing.

  52. Same stuff on this topic as usual.

    Some vaccinations are a good idea for some, and potentially most people.

    Some vaccinations should never see the light of day. A good friend of mine was instrumental in the development of the anthrax vaccine, and he said that no one should touch it. And it was his baby. That’s one example. Polio? Probably a good idea for most, the non-oral variety, anyway (helps prevent live viral shedding). Tetanus? Likely the same. Measels? Mixed feelings on that one. Chicken pox? Maybe not. Etc. etc.

    A minority can be hurt by certain vaccinations, some of those people severely, and a few die. If it’s your kid who has autism, for example, and you believe in a causal relationship, you too might turn into Jenny McCarthy. It’s a mom (and pop) thing.

    No one from Pharma cares to do the research as to who might be hurt by which vaccinations. If they (and we) knew (and understood the mechanisms), then we could act accordingly with respect to who to vaccinate (and with which ones) and who not. There’s no money in that, tho’. It’s a different form of “herd immunity” — vaccinate with billions of vaccinations and have the government-mandated compensation program pay off the potential victims. Ugly, but that’s how it now works.

    Herd immunity is an interesting concept. Mixed effectiveness, and circumstantial.

    Mandate higher health insurance premiums? I think enough people hit the mark on that one in the comments.

    Healthy living and a strengthened immune system? It’s a great thing. I also think that several vaccines are worth the risk (and they are always a risk, albeit a very small one for many or most of us). But, again, no one (or perhaps no one) truly understands the mechanisms of safety or injury here.

    Bottom line, people: nothing is “always”, or “never”. I have a serious issue with people like Wakefield, because (if the evidence as to his guilt in fabrication is correct) he’s sullied the argument, not forwarded it. Whether he has any sort of a case under any circumstances or not is now lost in that noise. As for history, remember, PLEASE remember how often Gov’t has told us what is right for all of us, and how well that has worked out. Talk about a mixed track record.

  53. Just curious, does this include ALL vaccines (eg-HPV and flu) or just common vaccines? ALso, if my child has the antibody already (and thus immunity) though not the current on the vaccine schedule would you still require the higher rates?

    Also, I think the CDC should require vaccination records for all international travelers…. including infants that are breast fed, as this does not guarantee immunity.

    In fact, it is non-immunized children/infants that have contracted the disease overseas, who are most often the source of infection of mini-epidemics in western countries where immunization is essentially prevalent.

    Wasn’t there someone here (the BB community) who was outraged when their infant got sick and was blaming the non-immunized community when their own infant was traveling internationally though was not immunized? That seemingly hypocritical outrage has always befuddled me.

  54. With regards to the statement about public schools, as someone who has worked in a public school where a non-immunized child resulted in the entire school population having to be re-vaccinated and several students contracting measles, I wholeheartedly concur.

  55. All of the hatred in these comments makes me sad. Seriously, the tone of this discourse is shameful. This is like reading the comments off a Drudge or a Gawker link.

    1. True, reread mine to hope they read as snarky over hateful. It’s an intersection of people’s kid’s health, people’s love of science, dislike of weak/flawed science, the wish to prove your own science is pure by pointing out hokum, and initial suggestion that raises issues of restrictions on personal freedoms. Heady mix.

  56. One thing I ran into recently…is that my insurance company only covers $500 of preventative medicine per year. This means that for a new-born, who receives at least $1K in vaccines in their 1st twelve months, that my insurance company won’t cover the CDC recommended vaccine schedule. So, I’m already paying $500 this year, out of pocket, for vaccines. So, there’s a double standard here if the very entity who provides my health insurance, will then turn around and make me pay a higher premium for something they won’t even cover in the first place.

    I have Blue Cross Blue Shield.

  57. I’m old school — I caught measles, mumps, and chicken pox when I was in elementary school, before there were vaccinations. When I started my Master’s, I had to take a blood test that confirmed I had the antibodies present, as I wasn’t vaccinated. I was vaccinated for rubella in 2nd grade, and polio as an infant. As a public servant with exposure to children, I also had to take a TB test.

    One of my friends caught chicken pox in his 20s and nearly died from it. You betcha I’m an advocate of vaccination, at least for childhood diseases that are commonly quite dangerous.

  58. Seriously fck y ppl who think living “natural” is healthy. The only reason you live the way you do, the reason you will live past 70 is because the way we have “unaturally” shaped the world and our health. Unless you denounce everything we take for granted for these days it’s one of the biggest hypercritical stances I’ve ever heard. A decade ago 3% of the world died from this disease. If we never vaccinated and something similar happened today that would be around 210,000,000 people dead.

    Your the reason we’re seeing resurgences in child hood diseases and the sad thing is all the diseases we drove to near extinction lets you live in your fantasy world where natures way is the best way. this is about as natural as it gets with an animal that lives in large communities experiences disease.

  59. Cory’s uncharacteristic suggestion of taking a bad idea further seems to indicate how being a parent can make you think with fear rather than reason. I’m not against vaccines, but I am against creating blanket policies that get in the way of my ability to decide intelligently what I want to do. The day a new vaccine is introduced that hasn’t been studied properly or is pushed for reasons that don’t benefit most of us, I would like to be able to tell my school “tough shit- my kid isn’t taking that thing, thank you very much.”

    As for health insurance premiums, if we’re going to use that logic, let’s start by charging a premium for those who eat fast food, watch tv, and drive cars- all things that tax our system in visible and invisible ways. That list can go on forever, too.

    File under “fear” indeed!

  60. Dear the people who mentioned slippery slope,

    The slippery slope argument is ALWAYS invalid. It is a logical fallacy by definition. You are wrong to bring it up and pollute rational discourse. Please stop.

    1. I be the people who mentioned slippery slope.

      Because things are always black and white vs. grey? I think it’s case by case. Corey believes in mandating a health care intervention because he think’s it’s universally called for. I pointed out an equally valid evidence based health practices that is not instituted, and all too often ignored. While I believe in mandated vaccines for most diseases, I have questions about Hep B being used at a young age. The American medical institution doesn’t believe it’s universally beneficial to immunize for tuberculosis. Should Americans not be able to use the playgrounds in Europe?

      I believe I have valid points, and I like the expression. I like skiing. I like running down slippery hills. I think suggesting that someone else should stop talking because you don’t like a phrase they used is being pedantic and in itself dilutes the thread. But I won’t tell you to shut up because censorship, well, is a slippery slope…

  61. When I went to grad school in the US, immigration restrictions required that I had a chest X-ray to prove that I didn’t have TB.

    My NHS doctor (bless him) wrote to my school saying that I plainly didn’t have TB and that as my doctor he forbade me to have gratuitous X-rays. (I never did have the X-ray … the school eventually “forgot” to follow up with harrassing me about it.)

    On a later occasion, I had hell of a game trying to get various people at the NHS to send me (in the US) documentation of immunizations I actually did have twenty years previously for the edification of, again, US immigration.

    … all I’m saying is, don’t imagine that these controls could never be unduly onerous or a tool of state oppression.

  62. @Cory… As a fellow tech-geek, I got nothing but mad crazy love for you, bro. But, damn, I just can’t get on the “everything scientific = good” bandwagon. I think that much of the science that directly affects our physical *bodies* (e.g., pesticides, GMOs, and even some vaccines) constitutes a potentially dangerous experiment on humanity. Science changes over time & we sometimes eventually learn that what we thought was good was actually pretty bad (e.g., Agent Orange). But anyway, under your new insurance scheme, I certainly look forward to the **VEGAN DISCOUNT** on my own policy!! (Come on, Xeni, can I get an amen there??)

    @DaisyMay Just sending some happy vibes your way, brave sister.

  63. My friend did not vaccinate her baby who then at six months of age caught whooping cough. The child almost died. As a parent, she had done the research and thought she had made the right decision. To think that she had based it on falsified claims is devastating. Unfortunately, it will take years to undo the negative campaigning around childhood vaccinations and parents will continue to set up camp on either side of the argument, each side believing they have the best interests of their children in mind.

  64. “my wife’s current reaction to getting a tetanus shot (swelling and weakness for days afterwords, just on the edge of abnormal). ”

    Actually that’s not on the edge it’s right damn in the middle of NORMAL. Any doctor will tell you that. Hell it’s common knowledge for most people. That’s why they hate getting it regularly. But I’d rather have my non dominant arm stiff for a few days than lockjaw. But that’s just MY choice.

  65. Our kids weren’t allowed in public school until they were vaccinated. I don’t know if there was a waiver we could have gotten, but I’d kind of hope not.

    Personally, I’d be OK with them saying “OK, all non-vaccinated kids can go to public school, but they’ll be segregated into separate facilities. Then when one of them gets measles or something, they’ll all get it. At least then they’ll all be immune, the ones that survive. I don’t think it’d take that that happening and being on the news (“300 kids in one school, none vaccinated, all get measles, 15 die”) very many times before a lot of people on this bandwagon quietly take their kids in for their shots.

  66. Aaah, the good old anti-vaccers!

    I recently started a new job at a very large not-for-profit health center as an administrator (no patient contact) who works closely with research assistants (LOTS of patient contact).

    Most of the assistants are young kids in their 20’s; this is their first gig out of college. I remember during the extensive orientation we went to get blood titer tests in huge groups. Some of the kids had never been vaccinated but had to be as a condition of employment.

    In some years, they make flu vaccinations mandatory and in some not so. This year, it was optional, but the attitudes of some of the kids who opted out was astonishing.

    Typical response: “I don’t get the flu, I never get sick, why should I get it?”

    Me: “Um, because you may be CARRYING it and someone with Stage IV cancer probably has NO immune system left and you could kill them by close contact?”

    Them (30 seconds of pondering): “Oh.”

    I feel very grateful that I had the chance to be tested to see if my childhood vaccinations were still valid. In fact, I needed an MMR reboot, which I got, and 30 days later I was protected.

    I live in a neighborhood full of immigrants from 3rd world nations who have never been vaccinated for anything and who-guess what–have pocket outbreaks. I’m glad that I’m protected because the people who work in every restaurant out here, handle the produce, run the laundromats, and clean up the offices could be carriers or their kids could be carriers.

    And Daisy, to beat a dead horse: Ask the hundreds of thousands of Native Americans whose 100% organic healthy lifestyles magically protected them from measles and smallpox so that they had the numbers to resist Westward expansion in the US. Oh, wait, they’re all dead from communicable diseases, sorry.

  67. The argument is self contradictory.

    IF vaccines really work, then how exactly does failing to vaccinate harm ENTIRE communities, which are presumably mostly vaccinated???

    1. ” The argument is self contradictory. IF vaccines really work, then how exactly does failing to vaccinate harm ENTIRE communities, which are presumably mostly vaccinated?”

      For starters, vaccines really work. There is no ‘if’ about it, so lets get that out of the way right off the bat.

      Next up, kids aren’t born immunised/vaccinated. In fact, some years can pass before they receive the vaccination for some diseases. During that period they’re depending on herd-immunity to keep them safe. Similarly, there are groups of people – young and old – who have valid MEDICAL reasons for not being vaccinated or whose immune systems no longer function. They too depend on herd immunity to keep them safe.

      Finally, herd immunity depends on the vast majority of the herd being immune, so that the disease can’t hop from one un-immunised person to the next. As more and more people look around and go ‘oh, everyone else is vaccinated, therefore I don’t need to bother’ the whole underpinning basis of herd immunity falls away. There become more and more people around who the disease can happily hop and skip between.

      Those people are fucking selfish wankers. To coin a phrase.

    2. It’s important because vaccines don’t always provide full protection right away. This is why there are multiple shots for some diseases on the schedule. I think the failure rate is somewhere around 25% or so for many vaccines, which means that both vaccination AND herd immunity are critical to protect a population.

  68. Wow, what a depressing debate.
    There are some people who don’t TRUST the pharmaceutical industry, and what is the solution for this behaviour?
    Apply a penalty. Force them.

    1. (and @Thebes) Think of it in the language of the NRA:

      A community of 500 adults owns 1000 guns and practices with them regularly. The government sends a posse of 50 well-trained soldiers with 50 guns to oppress them. The community easily beats them off with it’s superior firepower.

      A community of 500 adults owns 100 guns and hardly ever uses them. The government sends a posse of 50 well-trained soldiers with 50 guns to oppress them. The community is decimated.

      Guns ‘n liberty = vaccinations ‘n survival pardner!

  69. Unfortunately we’re all taking antibiotics, whether we want to or not, when we get any form of meat from any of the mass edible (I hesitate t call it food,) marketers.

    You don’t get to vote on how much you get either.

    There’s 85,000,000 pounds of antibiotics, produced by big pharma and distributed by big agro, in the animals slaughtered every year.

    YOU are susceptible to disease-resistant pathogens because its in the very food you eat, whether you want it or not.

  70. I’m really tired of the ignorance of my fellow Americans that blindly believe and accept whatever people, institutions, or governments tell them. Yes, it’s sad when people don’t get any immunizations because of some alarmist reaction not founded in science. But, I think it’s even worse when people go and assume that everything the CDC tells them has been scientifically vetted.

    If you take the time to look through the CDC documentation, you’ll see that they contradict themselves continuously. On their quicksheets, they give a whole battery of immunizations and schedules that go against the detailed medical reports or are more dangerous than the effects of the disease.

    For example, the CDC recommends that all people should be immunized for Hepatitis-B, starting from the date of birth. They fail to mention, and most doctors don’t even know, that if you have a yeast allergy there is a 99% chance of death or paralysis as a side effect. Are you testing newborns for yeast allergies? How many newborns have died from complications of the Hep-B vaccine?

    The one that really annoys me is that the CDC recommends a battery of immunizations for Menigococcal starting at age 2, but then state in the detailed medical reports that this immunization is ineffective if administered before the age of 11.

    There are plenty of other examples where the vaccines are minimally effective (less than 80%) and have the potential for serious side effects.

    I’m not saying that we shouldn’t get immunizations. I am saying that you should exercise your right to think and utilize the power of the internet to get real, scientifically vetted information. Don’t assume that what people tell you is correct, not even the CDC, since their own marketing pamphlets contradict the official reports. We should always have the right to choose whether we want vaccines or not. After all, if you have been vaccinated and I have not, you shouldn’t have to worry about getting sick from me.

    1. Dr. Honeydew, your comments are the most illuminating I have read here.

      My children have attended four schools; all of them required proof of vaccination against diptheria, pertussis, tetanus, polio, measles, mumps. and german measles, as well as screening for tuberculosis and lead poisoning.

      When I was a child, compulsory vaccinations were actually administered in the public school system; I remember standing in a long crying line in the lunchroom waiting for my rubella shot in first grade.

    2. Dr. Bunsen Honeydew, you’re either being disingenuous or you haven’t read the CDC’s materials.

      The CDC’s site lists severe allergic reaction as a possible side-effect for 1 in 1.1 million:

      Don’t believe them?

      Vaccination of yeast sensitive individuals: review… [Vaccine. 2006] – PubMed result

      This doesn’t appear to cover newborns, but a review found few reactions and no deaths. I’d say it’s an overblown concern.

      And your assertion about the CDC’s Meningococcal vaccine recommendations is flatly wrong. They only recommend it for 2-11 year olds if they fall into a high-risk group.

      Funny you should spout off about about ignorant Americans when you yourself apparently haven’t read the material. Fairly pathetic, bub.

  71. Quick: what has led to the greatest increases in human longevity?

    It’s not vaccines.

    It’s basic hygiene and running water.

    1) This means that “natural” remedies, immunization, etc. are a sure path to childhood death. Running water is a relatively recent advance.

    2) This does not mean that vaccines are ineffective. After all, you wouldn’t argue against fixing broken bones, would you?

    When my son is old enough to attend school, I will make sure that they have a policy that all children must be vaccinated. If they don’t, I’ll sue them.

    Oh, and I agree with the premise of the post. People who knowingly incur (or cause in their children) an elevated risk of disease should pay more to insure against the consequences.

  72. JonS,

    Thank you.

    Also recall that the more hosts that a disease has to skip merrily between, the more of a chance that it has to develop into a strain that is not affected by current vaccinations/immunities.

    That’s a big part of why we don’t have a cure for the common cold–a million causes, a zillion hosts, constant mutation.

    Also, did anyone actually go read the linked article? Here’s a quote:

    That family exposed 839 people, resulting in 11 additional cases of measles. One child too young to be vaccinated had to be hospitalized. Forty-eight children too young to be vaccinated had to be quarantined, at an average family cost of $775 per child. The total cost of the outbreak was $124,517, about $11,000 per case and substantially more for the hospitalized child. That was just in the money the county and state spent to clean the mess up, and doesn’t take into the account the costs to private insurers.

    Got it? One person’s “natural citizen/I am an autonomous human being who can outsmart viruses with the magic power of my MIND” choice endangered almost a thousand people and could have killed 11.

    These people need to be held accountable.

  73. We didn’t notice it happening, but we now notice it has happened. Americans have completely lost their “herd sanity” as a group. And with that, completely lost the ability for rational debate, seemingly forgotten the sorry state of the world in the times before the enlightenment. The days where we had no soap. Where we had no vaccines. Where we had no people lobbying the brainless to actively campaign against their own self interests.

    As for “jonw”. your argument is intellectually no better than a 5 year-old’s “i know you are but what am i” retort.

    1. Hmm. Can we stay away from the personal attacks? “lectis” may be a nice person, but I don’t want somebody running the country who thinks I need to pass an “intellectual competence” test to be allowed to have children. And I pointed out a few specific and real risks of giving government too much power. I didn’t pull those out of thin air, why do you think somebody went to the trouble of creating the bill of rights? Based on what I’ve read by Cory, both in print and on this site, I am genuinely surprised to hear him propose that access to public spaces should depend on government screening, and I believe he’s made an emotional statement without considering the full implications of what he’s saying.

  74. Let me try to understand this : people who have, at odds with all wealthy industrial nations, and many much poorer ones, never had the political will to institute a free, nationally managed, universal healthcare system, are attacking people like DaisyMay because she’s not taking public health policy seriously.

    If you’re arguing for solving public health care issues by making private coverage a punitive instrument, then you’re driving the state of health care towards higher costs, worse outcomes, more inequity in standards of care and ultimately far greater mortality than a few non-vaccinators could ever do.

    Either you are aiming at better overall healthcare, and are prepared to be guided by science and statistics, or you aren’t. National health systems work by distributing risk evenly, and have better outcomes; Private health systems work by punishing risk factors, and have worse outcomes. It’s simple.

    So, while you may kid yourself that at a local level, some tiny justification for the highly questionable rationale for punitive / private insurance based approach might exist ; but these benefits are dwarved by the adoption of a real, responsible, distributed risk public health system. Since the two approaches are mutually exclusive, arguing for the former means you are not really to be taken seriously in this debate.

  75. In many countries, citizens believe that they are entitled to absolute freedom in their actionsThis belief is most profound in the US where it is touted as some unique national trait, but rather it is more like the wool pulled over the eyes of the populace to make them think they are “free”. But I also see it in Australia where I used to live. I call this a “belief” because it is exactly that. Our ability to exercise our every whim in society is limited by the law, which dictates what activities we are allowed to do, and those that we are not. Nobody lived in a country where they are “free” to do whatever they like, because myriad are precluded by the law.

    For example, in the past it was legal to run a private fire fighter company in the US, where you would only put out fires for your paying members. It was later decided that it would benefit everyone more to make the fire departments a government run service which everyone contributed to, and to provide every person with the benefits of that service. So now it’s illegal to have a private fire fighting company……but where are all the people now crying out in opposition, up in arms that their fundamental rights to establish a company on this service have been limited?

    I consider allowing vaccination of your children to be a personal decision is equivalent to allowing whether you drink drive or not to be a personal decision. If I was to choose to drink drive I would be making a selfish decision (increase in personal convenience) but putting myself and everyone else around on the roads at considerably higher risk of serious harm. Sounds analogous to the consequences of not vaccinating. It should not be an option to skip vaccination, dictated by law….just as it is not an option to drive drunk, along with uncountable other irresponsible activities.

  76. In that spirit, I’m a lifelong vegetarian – so I’d like a break on health insurance for that. I also exercise vigorously five days a week, I’d like a further break for that, too. How about taking into consideration my daily green tea intake? What about my textbook-perfect blood pressure and cholesterol? Shit, I should pay $10 a month, max. But no, I have to subsidize the medical care of every couch-potato Type II fast-food idiot out there. And now I’m helping pay for the treatment of these kids getting these otherwise easily preventable diseases because of the ridiculous and zillion-times-over-proven-false mass delusion about vaccines and autism.

    Also, I’ll never have kids, so I think I should pay less taxes than people with kids. That people get a tax break for having kids has always seemed so completely backwards to me. But I digress.

    Never mind childhood vaccinations – ADULTS are freaked out by something as simple as the yearly flu shot. I always get them. And as a result I never get the flu. Yet a surprising number of people, even those that I would otherwise consider intelligent, say “oh god, I never get the flu shot, the last time I got it, I got SO sick.” Correlation is not causation, you twits.

    1. @155 Come on, Anon. “I always get them. And as a result I never get the flu… Correlation is not causation, you twits.” Is contradicting yourself correlated with being a twit or does it cause it? CDC estimates flu shots are only 90% effective. This thread illustrates the fact that for some reason it’s trendy in America to disregard nuances and take polarized sides on things.

      Say there is x chance of catching the flu in any one year. Over a five year period there is (1-x)^5 chance that you never catch it. Getting a shot changes x by making it 90% smaller. So, if you got a shot five years in a row you would have (1-x/10)^5 chance of never catching the flu in those years. It’s possible that your flu-free streak is a “result” of your flu-vaccine streak, but there’s a fair chance that you just got lucky (in fact greater than 50% if x>.14). It’s pretty unlikely that shots saved your life, since flu is usually not fatal, and even more unlikely that you saved someone else’s life. All that to say, it’s not as clear as you make it out to be scientifically, let alone ethically. Even more fuzzy when I point out that schoolkids are the main vectors and old people are the main victims, so optimal epidemiological health policy would say to poke needles in schoolkids to protect old people. Who should parents be more concerned about?

      By the way, many vaccines are more effective than the flu vaccine, and many diseases are more dangerous. Nothing I say here should be taken as argument against getting vaccinated, just against ENFORCED vaccinations.

  77. Sometimes I think Cory’s vaccine posts are merely troll trolling. I also at times wonder if the editors are remunerated, or at the very least competitive, with regard to the number of comments they get (in a week? or is it gauged by post?).

    I can’t even get jacked up on this issue, its old school. I mean, at least the bananas are funny.

  78. How many children die as a result of a vaccine preventable disease?
    A lot less than die in car accidents:

    Vaccine preventable diseases don’t even register on the top reasons for child mortality:

    If we follow the line of argument presented in some comments if your child dies as a result of a car accident the parent should go to jail. They put their child at higher risk by driving with them in the car. They endanger other people by driving in their car. By simply making the car illegal we can save more lives than are saved by forcing everyone to vaccinate and save the enviornment. Clearly a win win solution. At any rate, some time we will give people freedom even if that increases the possibility of us getting hurt because the other option means total control over every individual’s actions.

    We need to get some perspective here and have some reasonable scientific basis for our decision making. I’m hearing some pretty wacky arguments here for and against vaccination. The herd immunity phenomena is a question of how infectious the disease is vs. what percentage of the population that is immune. It is also dependant on many other factors. Certain diseases can be stopped with 50% immunity while others will spread with 95%. It’s not binary.

    1. If we follow the line of argument presented in some comments if your child dies as a result of a car accident the parent should go to jail.

      Funnily enough, if your child dies in a car accident because you failed to properly restrain her in an appropriate car seat/seat belt/etc, you should and will go to jail. That’s the law. And this is the correct analogy.

  79. As a mother and owner of a dog, who works in the pharmaceutical industry I am soooo sick of hearing about “evil pharma” like only devil spawn work there. Everyone I know who works in drug research is normal with normal morals.

    Without innoculations my husband, myself, my kids and my dog could all be dead of any number of horrible diseases, or disabled like my mother who contracted polio when she was a child before the advent of the polio vaccine! Maybe my daughters won’t end up with early cancer of the cervix (successfully caught and dealt with) like me because they are innoculated against the virus that causes it!

    I am a proud, informed member of the herd and agree that it’s a good idea for people who choose not to innoculate to pay higher insurance premiums.

    Jenn in Sydney, Australia

  80. Wow.

    Went out and read a bunch of stuff that the CDC writes about vaccines. Some of this is a real eye-opener.

    That’s from the CDC, too, and they are a serious proponent of vaccination. Much of what people are fighting about (yes, you are, some of you) can be answered from the CDC material alone. And it’s not pretty.

  81. What you’re seeing with the anti-vax’ers is merely a symptom. It’s a symptom caused by a lack of trust with the medical community, and with the US government. Corruption of science, industry, and government is coming together with tools for disseminating knowledge (the internet) to convince people that the medical community (and pharma) is not to be trusted. This isn’t really new (, but thanks to the internet allowing more information (and misinformation) to get around, it’s becoming more and more widespread.

    Can you really blame people for this attitude? If you want to change opinions, attack the root cause; don’t add additional laws and other silliness to address symptoms.

    Note: my partner is an immunologist, and I have full faith that she’ll select appropriate vaccines for our kids (that are safe). However, for the average parents out there who aren’t research scientists, I can’t imagine how difficult it must be to wade through all the bullshit.

    1. I think the anti-vaccination movement comes out of a pretty understandable reflex against having different substances injected into our children–it makes sense that people feel protective about it.

      People can overcome that fear when they’re convinced that there’s a risk associated with not doing it, but it gets increasingly tough to convince people as our collective memory of the risks disappear. For example, few people know anyone who ever caught whooping cough.

      It’s the awful paradox of vaccination–the more successful it is, the more people question why we do it. I suspect people were less likely to argue when the polio vaccine first emerged.

  82. You Americans really are a caution. Insurance payments? Why should this come down to giving any more or less money to insurance companies? Here in New Zealand the people who have health insurance are mainly those who want private hospital rooms with fresh flowers every day, or those who aren’t citizens. The rest of us rely on our state-funded system which simply allocates tax money to doctors and hospitals with a minimum of bureaucracy and form-filling.

    So the state paid for my coronary artery graft (aka “triple bypass”) and my girlfriend’s liver transplant and subsequent medication, and my 84-year-old mother’s artificial hip, delivered without recourse to “death panels” as imagined by some fantasists in the US.

    It also paid for terminal care for my father, whose years of cigarette addiction gave him inoperable lung cancer. It never asked him to contribute extra for being the cause of his own death.

    On the other hand, it has progressively increased the tax on cigarettes to a point where $20 for a pack of 20 is expected to be brought in with the next budget. Good job. The money raised goes into health care. It’s a shame we can’t penalise non-vaccinating parents, but such are the breaks. We encourage vaccination with public education.

    If you had a proper public health system arguments about health insurance just wouldn’t happen.

  83. 173 comments and the word Aluminum is not mentioned once.

    1.Babies who follow the CDC immunization schedule are injected with nearly 5000mcg (5mg!) of aluminum by 18 months of age.

    2. Aluminum is a well established neurotoxin.

    1. Maybe you should take off that tin hat? If you knew anything about science you would know that EVERYTHING is dangerous in large doses, hell O2 is a caustic poison, pure water in large volumes will kill you, AL is the most abundant metallic element in the Earth’s crust @ 8.3% per volume, so chances your child will eat a gram or two a year just playing outdoors.

  84. It follows that, foremost, individuals who drive should pay the highest premiums. As well as more taxes.

  85. In Mexico, to get into an elementary school, you need to have your vaccination sheet in order. Though, the vaccines are free here, unless you want a brand that the government does not supply. Then you have to pay for that vial. Usually they provide with good brands.

  86. I live midway between two large farming communities with quite low vaccination rates, the Pennsylvania Dutch and the Delaware Amish. We aren’t having any epidemiological holocaust here, despite a generally higher rate of preventable disease (including a major whooping cough outbreak in 2004) among the non-vaxxers. I view this idea of “herd immunity” with great skepticism. The vaccinated people here are far more likely to be harmed by car accidents than by Amish germs, so we are more interested in stopping texting while driving than we are in oppressing the Amish.

    1. Again, epidemiology isn’t wizardry.

      We aren’t having any epidemiological holocaust here, despite a generally higher rate of preventable disease (including a major whooping cough outbreak in 2004) among the non-vaxxers. I view this idea of “herd immunity” with great skepticism. The vaccinated people here are far more likely to be harmed by car accidents than by Amish germs.

      Where to begin with this.
      1)The area you’re talking about is pretty sparsely populated and the two groups you mentioned don’t tend to do a lot of traveling far from home. Both of these lower risk of contracting infectious disease as it lowers exposure events. These groups choosing not to vaccinate is okay in my opinion as it is a collective group decision and they largely isolate themselves. Some would argue that it’s not okay for the parents to put the children at risk regardless, but I’m a little more tolerant of community choices that don’t force undue burden on their neighboring communities.

      2)Vaccinated people are at lower likelihood of contracting the disease, but there are many people in every community such as newborns and people who can’t be immunized for medical reasons who are at high risk when an outbreak such as the one in 2004. Luckily for the community whooping cough has a low fatality rate, but the next outbreak may very well be measles, a much less forgiving disease. As more people around the world decide not to vaccinate the risk of exposure increases.

  87. Ito,

    But how much contact do the Amish et al have with the outside world, and what’s their population density?

    Put a bunch of unvacccinated folks in a densely populated area for a while and you get…well, the Black Death killed 1/3 of Europe.

    That’s what happens in a world without vaccines.

    1. I have contact with Amish and Mennonites at least once a week, and there are thousands of other “english” people interacting with them at the farmers market I go to on Fridays. I routinely buy food, and sometimes hand tools and fine furniture from them, and occasionally shake hands. I believe that in each parish, every member has contact with the other parishioners of a Sunday. That’s why they occasionally have severe disease outbreaks.

      I have to go build a machine now, but I didn’t want to ignore your question. G’night, all!

  88. sorry, corry. usually like your posts, but this is just impractical to an obscene degree and highly unethical. vaccines have to be looked at based upon personal risk/gain. allergies, diseases and seriousness of the particular virus must be taken into consideration.

    also, if we are to make the parents of unvaccinated children and cigarette smokers pay more for their lifestyle choices, the list could not ethically end there… obese or overweight people due to lifestyle choices rather than disorders, adult-onset diabetes, hiv/aids gained thru consensual sex/needle sharing, any other form of drug use which compromises the immune system or leads to disease or disorder(alcohol, caffeine and OTCs included)should lead to increased insurance costs… hmm… that’s only at least 3/4 of the american population and likely far more (after all 2/3 of americans are medically obese or overweight, roughly 8% of americans have adult onset diabetes, and roughly 21% of americans smoke as of 2008 according to the cdc)

  89. Being obese doesn’t kill other people, and they have laws in place to prevent smokers from poisoning others with secondhand smoke.

    *watches straw men go up in flames*

  90. @ jenonymous:

    as someone that lives near a smaller amish population than ito (i’m live near the largest population of amish in western pennsylvania), i can still say more interaction than you think… in case you haven’t noticed, amish are being forced more and more to deal w/ we ‘english’ folk. most of them gain their money from working for or selling to non-amish. you’d be quite sad to see them losing their lifestyle more and more… seeing them in a walmart or mcdonalds. not trying to idealize their stereotypical lifestyle (any society has baggage and bullshit properly associated w/ it), but they’re losing many of the better parts of their culture and economic independence that they used to have.

  91. Oops, somewhere along the way the original post was edited to remove Cory’s suggestion that the unvaccinated be banned from public parks. Any moderator care to add a quick note about the edit so a reader can see what the early posts referred to?

  92. This is a social not a legal issue. Because a certain (and unknown unless you get your kids’ antibody levels tested) number of people will fail to have the appropriate or expected reaction to an immunization, unvaccintaed people do pose a threat. So even if I WANT my child vaccinated and GET my child vaccinated, it doesn’t mean that they are in fact protected from dangerous viruses. (Neither my mother or my grandmother reacted to smallpox vaccines: perhaps they have natural immunity, or perhaps a partial immunity that would require a full hit of the virus before the immune systems responded. But though both of them were stuck, neither are vaccinated.)

    But as I said, this is a social issue. And we need to SHAME the hell out of these nut job parents. I find out your kid is un-vaccinated, I announce it to the whole playground, grab my kid and haul them off in a loud and horrified huff. I inform the other parents, in a voice a cable pundit would use to decry pedophiles, that you are a dangerous, unscientific lunatic. I wonder aloud if you believe in prayer healing, crystal therapy and aliens who stop by earth to visit. I mock you at PTA meetings, question your sanity regularly, and refuse to invite your kid to cupcake decorating parties for all the vaccinated kids. This is a social problem and there is a social solution.

    Complete and utter social annihilation.

    (Because measles can stay alive for three hours in a room after someone infected has been in it. Because children die. Because I know someone who was blind from his mother having measles while she was pregnant [she grew up on a ranch in the days before vaccines]. Because if you don’t vaccinate your kids, you are a bad person.)

  93. It’s official – having kids changes you, apparently. Their safety predominates all other issues.

    As a childless folk who thinks immunization is on the whole a goodness, still it comes down to this — do you own your own body or don’t you? Because if you don’t, you really can’t claim to own anything. The chance, incidental, possible harm you might cause from lowering the “herd immunity” shouldn’t overshadow the true harm of being forced to undergo medical treatment you don’t want or have issue with.

    Not being facetious, but honestly, what’s the difference between forcing immunizations and the forced sterilizations – to improve the gene pool and the good of society – in the early 20th. The slippery slope and mission creep are real things…

    1. do you own your own body or don’t you?

      You’re asking the wrong question. The applicable question is, “Do you own your children’s bodies or don’t you.” Without that mean old government intervening, many parents wouldn’t bother to educate their children. They’d use them for free labor. They’d sell them. They’d hire them out as prostitutes. Parents have traditionally treated their children as chattel property and still do in many parts of the world. Fortunately, we have some laws in place to protect children, but it’s still somewhat legal to murder your children by refusing medical care on their behalf. The parents follow their conscience, but it’s the children who do the dying.

      1. You’re making me laugh now Antinous.

        Without those mean old parents interfering, governments would use children as a dumping ground for surplus corn and soy. They’d gather them together and make them swear allegiance as soon as they’re out of toddlerhood, then send “recruiters” to these places to convince them to go kill other kids on the other side of the world. They’d feed them two meals a day of fast food to ensure lifelong customers for the food and drug businesses that dominate our economy. Good thing I’m just being sarcastic and none of this is real.

        1. You’re laughing so hard you entirely missed the boat.

          not governments. PARENTS will and do all those things Antinous mentioned. Not governments.

          jon, your slippery style and intentional mischaracterizations bore me. badly. Fortunately, the space-bar is my vaccine against your ill-informed solipsistic logics.

          1. Hey, thanks for reading and taking the time to respond. I think we all can learn a lot by respectful discussion. It seems you have misunderstood me, so maybe I wasn’t clear. The commenter (Antinous) used a mocking reference to the “mean old government” together with examples of bad things that can be done to children by parents, in order to belittle the idea that parents can reasonably be skeptical of the government. I used a similar form of phrasing to reverse the example, and point out bad things that are done by the (USA) government to children. I did this because it bears pointing out that the danger posed by uncontrolled government to children is just as real as the danger posed by uncontrolled parents to children (I would not expect this to be controversial among boingboing readers, especially of Cory).

            I think most folks agree children should be protected from deliberate harm by adults, including their own parents. What’s really the issue here is when parents do what they think is best for their children, and somebody else thinks it is not best. As much as possible (in the USA at least) we have made a legal system that supports parents doing what they think is best for their children, not only with regards to medical care, but also education, housing, religion and so on. I can feed my kid a diet that gives him diabetes, I can make him study tennis or Latin or violin or ninjitsu, I can teach him that god “X” hates people who are not like us, the spaghetti monster loves all his children, whatever. You can let him do things that I think are dangerous, and as long as there’s no direct harm and you have good intentions it’s pretty much none of my business. It’s well known that every set of parents has different ideas about what’s safe, reasonable, and appropriate, and we appreciate this diversity.

            I’ll risk repeating myself in case anyone else found my argument “slippery.” While I am an active duty military medical scientist, it needs no special education or research to say this: there is not universal agreement, even among scientists, about what is the optimal vaccination schedule. That is why different countries, and even different regions within a country, have different recommendations. Some vaccines are higher or lower in their cost/benefit ratio than others, some diseases are higher or lower in their transmissibility and danger, some people are more likely than others to be protected or damaged by vaccines. My argument is not extreme: I believe that this decision, just like 99.9% of child-rearing decisions, is one where the status quo is appropriate: educate the public, point out the dangers, and leave the final decision to parents, with a little extra paperwork if they want to do something unusual. If you really are concerned about reducing public hazards, start a campaign to lower speed limits or prevent child abuse. The amount of risk posed by vaccine opt-outs is negligible, and deserves about as much attention as lightning strikes or terrorism.

      2. “You’re asking the wrong question. The applicable question is, “Does the government own your children’s bodies?”

    2. “The slippery slope” is just about the most goddamned annoying, debate-destroying concept I have ever seen.

      1. Almost as annoying as authority continually expanding a project beyond its original goals, for which there’s ample historical evidence.

  94. I’m just curious as to how many of the previous posters are up to date on their inoculations? How does that relate to herd immunity?

    Check the CDC: unfortunately, the pertussis vaccine does not appear to prevent transmission (subclinical infection goes undiagnosed in inoculated individuals, and/or those who have been inoculated can still act as a conveyance for the bacterium). Why are immune compromised individuals or those undergoing treatment such as chemotherapy that significantly reduce or nullify immune response cautioned to stay away from recently vaccinated individuals? Clearly, sources of contagion can sometimes be pinpointed accurately (measles outbreak mentioned above), but who really constitutes the risk here? How does one decide that “I had chickenpox as a kid, and I didn’t die/become disabled” argument is any more or less that the “I had the chickenpox vaccine and I didn’t die/become disabled;” and who died and made Cory Doctorow God? I know you love your little one(s?), pumpkin, but they won’t benefit from your insecurities, except to see you surpass them. Till then I’d happily avoid your preferred parks.

    (Also, Cory, this is totally an aside, but CIO: not such a nice thing to do. The increased cortisol that results from an innate stress reaction that a human infant has to being isolated and helpless causes lifelong changes to brain function. Self soothing babies would be nice. So would self feeding and self cleaning babies.)

  95. It should be noted, also, too, that the VAERS legislation went into effect in 1986, effectively removing the burden of liability from vaccine manufacturers over two decades ago. The concept of herd immunity is a theory, based on bovinae, not hominidae.

  96. I love it when people who promote a public health hazard get all righteous about it.

    Anti-vaccine crowd, it’s your turn. Please join the smokers by the loading dock.

  97. Dr. Bunsen Honeydew in reply to eeple

    Thank you for pointing out a few publications that I hadn’t seen. Of course, you missed the significant ones that are buried within the CDC website. Sorry that I cannot provide links. I had read them previously been cannot seem to find them again (which I know sounds like a lame excuse). The VIS sheets are just marketing sheets based upon scientific reports, and that is where the contradictions occur.

    A possible side effect of 1 in 1.1 million is just based upon their statistical projections, which every statistician will tell you is never an exact reflection of reality. Without publishing the details of their projections, their is no way that this can be taken seriously.

    1. Dr., if the contradictions in the CDC’s materials aren’t obvious (and you can’t locate them for us), and there are no documented deaths from vaccine/yeast-induced anaphylaxis, what’s your point exactly?

      If you’re going to accuse the CDC of making an irresponsible mess of the science, you’ll need something better than manufactured contradictions and hubris.

      1. (Sorry for being so slow about getting the hyperlinks. I generally don’t spend too much time online on the weekends.)

        Thankfully, I had kept most of the documents, which I’d forgotten of. So the two that really concerned me were the:


        and Hep B:

        You may read differently into them than I did, but I thought that my interpretation was pretty straight forward.

        In the end, I’m glad we’ve agreed (implicitly) that we need to think. Sure, we may come to different conclusions, but at least we’re using our brains.

  98. It isn’t the government that comes up with these recommendations. They are developed by the medical and scientific communities. The recommendations are based on years of research and scientific data. In other terms they know a hell of a lot more than Jenny McCarthy and the general public. Unfortunately, we live in a modern society in which the average person is convinced that they are highly intelligent in all walks of life — they are not.

  99. Some things I’m noticing in this thread:

    There’s a powerful reluctance to mistrust doctors. They’ve got an enormous amount of power, and if we imagine that power might be misused, it’s very discomforting.

    Different vaccines present different risks. If I’m unwilling to get my kid vaccinated against hep b, that has nothing to do with my insistence that he be given the pertussis vaccine. A lot of parents are frustrated that we can’t bring up the distinction without being branded, “anti-vaxer”.

    The drugs that we most resent Big Pharma for, have really high profit margins. Vaccines don’t cost nearly as much – per unit – but since the volume is so much greater, the overall profit is still significant.

    Americans frequently cannot disagree with each other in good faith. If you have an idea that contradicts my idea, you must be an ignorant yokel, or maybe even evil. As more controversy generates heat and noise, it’s easier it is for government to say that citizens can’t be trusted to make informed choices about our own medical care.

    Herd immunity sounds a lot like herd mentality. One is a well established scientific principal, and the other is something that I would *never* let myself get caught up in- it’s my opponent that’s caught in its clutches.

  100. Haha – of course a write-up on BB about vaccination would result in over 200 comments. Why am I not surprised?

    If you don’t vaccinate your kids for certain illnesses you are selfish, ignorant and should have to pay more. Plain and simple. The extremely low incidence of negative effects which are attributable to vaccination are greatly outweighed by the overall benefits to society that vaccination provides.

    Get informed, not fooled:

  101. The vituperation in some of these comments is odd.

    I find the phrase in Cory’s article “For those of us with kids who are too young to be vaccinated” interesting. In acknowledging the fact that these medicines are seen as potentially toxic in their viral load or the side-effects of their preservatives, one cuts to the heart of why administering them according to a government-mandated schedule is a quandary for some parents. At that point the question is more about what age and level of development a child’s immunity needs to reach before it is ready to take on board these vaccines which, I’m glad some people have acknowledged, vary in their composition.

    One does no need to be a simpleton to be cautious about some medicines. While decrying the ignorance of the benighted masses is, I appreciate, something of a sport for the boingboing reader (myself included), the bludgeoning adherence to orthodoxy that I’ve seen in some of these posts has been really off-putting. Surely if some children are not responding to the beneficial effects of the vaccines, there is also some room left in the herd immunity for those few oddballs who adopt a more cautious regimen than the very aggressive one taken by some countries.


    Chris Weitz

  102. Someone who doesn’t understand the importance of having choices when it comes to what immunizations to give your child is someone whose never had a tragedy strike your family. My one and only son received the DPT immunizations when he was 2 months, 4 months, and 6 months old. The shot caused epilepsy, and severe brain damage to my child. He was also blind. He never walked, had to be diapered, and passed away when he was 15 years old. The government admitted that the shot caused the damage, even though his doctor never would and we received small sum of money for all of our loss. I don’t believe that the good of the community should ever override the rights of one person to live a full life.

    1. “Someone who doesn’t understand the importance of having choices when it comes to what immunizations to give your child is someone whose never had a tragedy strike your family. My one and only son received the DPT immunizations when he was 2 months, 4 months, and 6 months old. The shot caused epilepsy, and severe brain damage to my child. He was also blind. He never walked, had to be diapered, and passed away when he was 15 years old. The government admitted that the shot caused the damage, even though his doctor never would and we received small sum of money for all of our loss. I don’t believe that the good of the community should ever override the rights of one person to live a full life.”

      Unfortunately, this is a case where one in a million pay the price for saving the lives of others. There’s not really much to say about it other than that. I’m sorry for your pain, but on a policy level it’s the price we pay for avoiding the deaths of thousands.

      1. “this is a case where one in a million pay the price for saving the lives of others.”

        There’s a name for that kind of thing- I call it medical cannibalism. It’s the sort of moral trade-offs that justify things like the Tuskegee syphilis study, and the market in which people can sell their own organs to others.

      2. Unfortunately, this is a case where one in a million pay the price for saving the lives of others. There’s not really much to say about it other than that. I’m sorry for your pain, but on a policy level it’s the price we pay for avoiding the deaths of thousands.

        No, it’s not. It’s a price dhewitt paid, every day for fifteen and a half years, and every day since. “We” did not pay it. “We” did not have to live through that. “We” were the ones who were paid, in reduction of epidemics, and not the ones paying with the lives of our children.

        Constant, dhewitt, I’m so sorry.

  103. On aluminum and mercury:

    FDA has determined that there are no safe levels of lead for the human body. Why any other metals, then? I wonder if there would be a “safe” level of lead in the body if they were a vaccine component? That’s a churlish statement on my part; I just get angry.

    Anybody know why there continues to be any aluminum or mercury in any vaccines? I have read that they are completely unimportant to the efficacy of a vaccine dose. So, why? Answer: it’s all about shelf-life. Why is shelf-life important? Because it increases the upside (bottom line) on the product. That’s a cold, hard fact. So, rather than removing all metals from all vaccines and thus silencing the “get the metals out of my vaccines” crowd (and the risk, whatever they may or may not be, of having them present potential injury risks to anyone at all), they leave them in. In fact, aluminum was added after the mercury was pulled (from many but not all vaccines as was noted above).

    OK, once more: not anti-vaccine. Pro responsible vaccinations.

    Here’s a thought: if people with compromised immune systems are told to avoid vaccinations, where is that line drawn? And who decides? If you had a baby with a partially compromised immune system and did not know it (and how would you? Are they tested prior to vaccination?), then could your child be injured or killed by a vaccination? Could your child be injured or killed by a series given together, in a situation where he or she might have survived or been injured less seriously if they were administered serially?

    It is these types of situations which lead to problems and issues for all, parents of the “let’s just vaccinate the hell out of all of ’em all the time” and the “no vaccine will ever see my child’s body” clubs. There are no black and whites here, which is pretty much true for everything we’re involved in in our lives, so why would anyone expect differently?

    Although there has bee some pretty scathing stuff thrown back and forth here, we should all understand that, for the most part, it’s coming from an honest place from people. Cory, now a parent, cares deeply for his daughter and whether he is right, wrong or somewhere in the middle his position is colored by his love for his daughter and his concern for others’ children. Well, guess what? The same is true for Jenny McCarthy. If she screams about vaccine damage, it’s because she truly believes that her child was injured in this way. There may or may not be a causal link, but the fact that she believes it drives her passion in this argument.

    We’ll know most of the story in about 100 years, a bit at a time.

    At least, those of us who have not been killed off by plagues or vaccines :-).

  104. The trouble with any arguments pro or con at this particular time is that we do not presently have the computing power nor all-encompassing information matrix to come up with the correct rate at which people should be charged, given their particular “circumstance”…

    We need incredibly detailed metrics about EVERY aspect of a person’s life before we could possibly say “oh, this particular practice/vice/circumstance/bio-metric/hereditary factor [et al] indicates that you should pay this and that into your insurance plan…”

    Of course this is not an argument for the status quo in America health insurance practice, which is justified by metrics concerning annual shareholder yield, as opposed to anything regarding the cost of keeping human beings healthy and viable members of society.

    Presently, we MUST and SHOULD resort to crude statistics that are differentiated by “orders of magnitude” designations. This is similar to our legal system which at any given time, resorts to the [statistical/temporal-culutral] biases of a jury or interpretation of precedent by “unbiased” judges. The hopeful outcome is that statistically, the majority of cases are given fair and just and rational treatment.

    Good luck with all of that.

  105. Walking around with a higher level of risk to serious infectious disease is not similar to overeating at all, in much the same way that it is more problematic when I drive a car the wrong way down the dual highway to kill myself rather than take an overdose at home.

    We (through the govt) should get to intervene in your selfish behaviour in not vaccinating because you are very literally threatening others with many unnecessary risks of death.

  106. Does no one appreciate the irony of saying “the government shouldn’t make your choices for you” in response to a suggestion about who should be allowed in public schools?

  107. Cory- Thanks for posting this. Now that I’ve actually got a kid of my own, this whole movement of irresponsible schmucks refusing to vaccinate their kids has suddenly become real and scary to me, not just something theoretically stupid.

  108. This is such bullshit. My favorite living author due to his great fiction and belief in digital rights just wrote a completely authoritarian article.
    My niece had a seizure 10 minutes after getting the MMR vaccine at age 5. She went from healthy child to not being able to walk, and losing almost all verbal skills. This is not some far-out fantasy. These problems have been documented over and over and over again.
    The ideas behind vaccination are sound. It’s the specific vaccinations we have that are the problem. There is no reason to have mercury, or squalene in vaccinations.
    Not to mention, I dare people to go back and look at the charts for diseases. Look at how common polio was before and after the vaccination was released. Make sure the chart shows at least 10 years before the vaccination came out.

  109. I agree that insurance companies should price the risk of not vaccinating children. It will be most interesting to compare their calculations based on hard statistics with the opinions of the medical profession.

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