TB more or less echoed Mandy Rice-Davis with "well she would say that", and elaborated her views on the precautionary principal [previo] and primum non nocere. There were too many cases in her memory / life-time when The Man had told us that there was nothing to see here only to be brought before a tribunal of enquiry 20 years later to explain how He had heedlessly screwed-over the lives of the innocent. For one: the contaminated anti-D scandal which I wrote about last month. Suspicion of The Man and embracing an anti-vax position goes down with gluten-free bread, lactose-free milk, 'herbal' teas, tree-hugging and home-education with many of our friends.
We've had two families and in the 18 years which separated them, we changed our position on vaccination.
- First we had The Boy, when we were young&foolish . . . and immortal. We decided not to get him immunised against MMR [measles, mumps, rubella] because we couldn't face the thought that, by an active intervention now, we'd precipitate an adverse change in our precious. We'd take our chances with what fate delivered later. Two years later, fate delivered measles, which was no fun, but he didn't become one of the 300 children who die every day from measles nor experience "blindness, encephalitis, severe diarrhoea and related dehydration, ear infections leading to deafness, or severe respiratory complications". When we enrolled him in a health-care plan in Boston 4 years later, the doctor looked at us like we had bones through our noses: "Measles? don't you have MMR in Ireland?". So we know that the consequences of not vaccination can be survived.
- 18 and 20 years on, we had Dau.I and Dau.II in quick succession and took a community-health herd-immunity position. The Boy had come through the measles because he was well-fed and well-cared for in a warm dry house [we went to stay with my parents] and we had the best medical back-up if necessary. The girls were in the same status [except the warm house - it was heated only be open fires and bloody freezing] and much more fortunate than the poor and dispossessed who lived round the corner from our farmhouse. By getting them vaccinated we would help boost the take-up to levels where the measles virus couldn't find sufficient unprotected children to propagate through the population . . . end of measles, it worked for smallpox , and has eliminated polio from the Western World. 13 years later, Dau.I contracted mumps, so we know that vaccines are not 100% effective.