An Irish woman's social, political and domestic commentary
Monday, May 16, 2005  

Second life

Re-read yesterday's post and realised I didn't describe the second life (first being important newspaper columnist....) I restored sense of achievment by making a cake. A classic victoria sponge as instructed by Delia. It didn't rise enough. Under the 'what went wrong' section I think I used the wrong tin. Still, it tastes lovely. Am now domestic goddess.

btw, here's yesterday's article. One woman has already called the ST looking for me. I suspect she's one of the bad parents and wants to abuse me. I'm afraid to return her call. Why are people soooooooooo touchy?

Jabs are for all not just for you

There is no more irrational creature on earth than the concerned parent. You’ll find them complaining about mobile phone masts, even though their little darlings have mobile phones; their houses are filled with wide-screen televisions and computer games, but that won’t stop them screeching about ESB pylons.
Normally the rest of us can ignore this illogical behaviour. But last Thursday’s National Immunisation Conference in Sligo, which highlighted Ireland’s alarmingly low rate of MMR vaccination, indicated why some parents should have statutory lessons in logic.

In 2000, three children in Dublin died during a measles outbreak. This disease remains a threat to tiny babies too young for immunisation and vulnerable because their older siblings have not been vaccinated. The fault lies with their remarkably stupid parents who believe that vaccination is a personal choice.

Theoretically, it should be harder to persuade parents from lower socio-economic groups to bring their children for vaccination. This is not the case. The bad parents come from the over-educated middle classes with access to the internet. They will leap on discredited pseudo-scientific papers that claim to expose the dangers of immunisation. The vaccine is invariably linked to a condition with an unknown cause. Never questioning the sources or qualifications of the online author, these parents choose to ignore the advice of health professionals and decide immunisation is not for them.

Infamously, Andrew Wakefield’s 1998 study in The Lancet told the world that eight out of 12 autistic children he examined showed symptoms within days of getting their MMR injection. To this day there are concerned parents will quote this “scientific paper” as the reason they are terrified of the MMR vaccine. The conclusions were disputed by leading researchers internationally, but the damage was done. MMR vaccination rates dropped, with devastating results.

Ireland, being particularly susceptible to the contagion of ignorant rumour, suffered most. In 2002 the rate fell as low as 73%. Given that a rate of 90% is necessary to provide protection for everybody, health professionals were alarmed.

It took an investigation published in this newspaper last year to expose the flaws in Wakefield’s paper. His study was based on evidence of parents already embarking on legal action against vaccine manufacturers. In fact, at the time of the Lancet publication in February 1998, the parents of nine children had obtained full legal aid certificates to sue — a figure which eventually rose to 11. Since 1996, Wakefield had been paid by the solicitor of five of the children in the study to examine the link between MMR and autism.

Despite all this, some people persist in the false belief that a risk exists. What they fail to realise is that their personal choice has terrible consequences for everybody else.

The principle of global immunisation is that you don’t have a vaccination so much to protect your child as to protect all children. The goal of immunisation is to reduce the incidence of the disease in the entire population.

Anybody old enough to have a child should remember those health promotion ads featuring the nun shouting “boh” behind the deaf baby. The baby’s mother had caught rubella and when pregnant mums get rubella the results are abortions, miscarriages, stillbirths, and birth defects. So when a mother tries to convince me against vaccination, I ask how she would feel if she contracted rubella from one of her own children while pregnant. Invariably, I am subjected to a lecture about the benefits of a natural immunity.

Natural immunity failed to prevent a huge epidemic of diphtheria in Russia, causing more than 125,000 cases and resulting in 4,000 deaths in the mid-1990s. Russia used to have a well-established vaccine programme. After the dissolution of the USSR, shortages of vaccine led to a dramatic fall in coverage.

In a rich society such as Ireland, we only associate polio and diptheria with poor countries. Measles and mumps seem relatively benign. I am quite sure that if one of my children got measles they’d be over it in a week. But I will not be responsible for my children giving it to the child with the weak heart who could die as a result.

The incidence of measles has been reduced due to the responsibility of most parents. However, in 2001, there was only one case of measles in Northern Ireland where the vaccination rate is 91%. The same year in the republic there were 1,600 cases.

One day we can stop vaccinating, when every country has eliminated the disease. As long as the hysterics exercise their choice not to, there is no hope of Ireland joining the list of disease-free countries. This is the legacy of the bad parent.

posted by Sarah | 17:24 4 comments
More power to you Sarah! Nothing I hate more that flat earthers! In my blackest moments I wonder is the attitude against vaccinations in Ireland is just another manifestation of "Me Fein'ism"...?
These over-educated middle-class types have constantly relied on news that isn't widely broadcast and not consumed by the great unwashed. For example, they'll read some positive news in the FT about some blue chip, buy shares and make a killing. The readers of The Sun won't have access to this information.

Similarily with this issue. The intellects hear that the MMR jab could cause autism in some journal etc ...

However, not being a parent myself precludes me entering any discourse on the matter. Not having that paternal fear means I don't know what it's like to make the decision on whether to vaccinate or not.
Rubbish Sarah,

As aparent my responsibility is to look after my own wonderful children. I will not go around turning them into autistics so some other snotnosed brat doesn't get mumps.

More to the point why not give 3 jabs instead of one.

No answer... No answer Carey...

Am back in ireland give me a ring goddamit
Jaysus, it's gone to the girls head. "Important newspaper columnist" - an oxymoron dahling...

As for the MMR, I'm half-deaf in one ear from catching measles as a kid, so I completely agree with you. These fucking loonies can wave all the crystals they want, but when they start endangering their kids with their nonsense something has to be done about it.
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