Logic Fail, of epic proportions.

I do wish people weren’t quite so tempted to display their utter lack of intelligence on national radio.

As you may or may not know (or, indeed, care), there has been an increase in measles cases in the UK, with just over 1,300 cases last year, and one death.

Most of the cases could have been avoided if people had given their children the MMR vaccine, but because one idiot with an axe to grind falsified his research results, the public are worried that if they give their child the vaccine, they will develop autism. The link between the two has been disproved, comprehensively and thoroughly, but people still worry. Fair enough, autism is horrible and if there are ways of reducing the risk of developing it, go for your life. Unfortunately, avoiding the MMR vaccine is not one of them.

Me, I never had any of my childhood vaccinations, because the doctor refused to give me them – I was covered head to foot in eczema of unknown cause, my brother was severely asthmatic, as was one of my grandfathers. No vaccines for me when I was a kid, so I caught everything, sometimes more than once.

(As an aside, get my mother to tell you of the living hell she went through when I caught whooping cough and, being a nice kind generous soul, gave it to my brother and my dad. We were going through cough syrup by the gallon for about six months. Rosadaddy was very, very ill indeed).

And, despite having it twice, I have no natural immunity to measles, which is normally fine, because there’s this wonderful thing called herd immunity that protects me – basically, when the percentage of vaccinated people in a community is sufficiently high, the chances of me coming into contact with an infectious carrier is slim to nil, even on the fetid, germ-infested horror that is the Tube. However, the vaccinated population of London is now so low that there is no herd immunity, and so my GP pinned me down and stuck needles in me.

“We’re vaccinating everyone who’ll sit still long enough,” he said.

“Ow,” I said.

Anyway.

There was a man on the radio this morning who “wasn’t prepared to take risks with his children’s health.” “Aaaaah, how sweet,” I thought.

“So we didn’t have them vaccinated with the MMR,” he said. “The only reason I can think of for giving three vaccines at once is a cost-saving measure.”

“Did you have them vaccinated with the separate vaccine?” asked the presenter. It is available, just not on the NHS, so you have to go private and pay – logical to assume that if your beef is with the three-in-one jab, you’ll give them six separate jabs instead.

“No. We let them catch measles.”

I’m not sure what he said after that, as I was shouting so loudly at the radio that I scared the bluetit, and probably next door’s cat as well, but there was something about “they’ll come out stronger for it,” at which point I lost it completely and nearly e-mailed the Today Programme to point out that we stopped exhibiting lunatics to public mockery and scorn over two hundred years ago.

A man who wasn’t prepared to take risks with his children’s health let them catch measles, a disease that has a three in 1,000 risk of death, and a one in 100 risk of serious complications like blindness, pneumonia and encephalitis, all because of a long-discredited link with autism.

[Edit: I believe I have my risks wrong – it’s not clear, but the BBC seems to think the risk of death is 1 in 2 to 5 thousand, Wikipedia 3 in 1,000].

Oooh, epic logic fail.

12 thoughts on “Logic Fail, of epic proportions.

  1. Your shouting led you to miss the best bit, when he said that catching measles boosted his children’s natural immunity – (and I paraphrase, so may he expose me to his contagious children if I misquote his midguided mind) and it was ‘probably’ better than immunising them.

  2. Even our anthropological family doctor vaccinated me for the measles! (I didn’t get the rubella shot and various other cocktails because they weren’t harvested during the right moon phase – remind me not to get pregnant).

    Those poor children. And I was thinking my dad is weird for playing self-invented card games all the time. At least he doesn’t do it on national radio.

  3. Punches fist in air! Yeah! What rosamundi said.

    I do realise that people have legitimate concerns. But Wakefield’s research linking autism is so flawed that you can drive steamrollers through the holes in his conclusions.

    I think I should divert my research towards discovering a vaccination against stupidity.

  4. Jack – I think the solution lies in Darwins theory of evolution. At the risk of sounding very harsh and uncaring, surely a man like that will end up having no children left after they’ve contracted every infection under the sun and he will not be passing on his genes to further generations.

    You should check out the Darwin Awards (www.darwinawards.com) for further evidence of this.

  5. You know, I heard that very same interview and turned to my dad said, “he’s neither a medical doctor nor a statititian.” Though when the actual doctor was saying it’s very illogical what he meant was “it’s stupid”!! ;o)

  6. *headdesk*

    I, also, have had whooping cough, due to the local medical establishment deciding for two years not to give out the pertussis vaccine.

    I broke a rib from the coughing.

    I now work in a hospital, and even though I don’t have patient contact, I have to get a tuberculosis test. While I was there, they asked if I had updated tetanus.

    “Probably not.”

    “Ok, well, we have a new tetanus that’s also got diptheria and pertussis, because people lose their immunity over time…”

    I rolled my sleeve up right then and there and said, “GIMMIE!”

  7. Can I just say that, as a parent, it still isn’t clear to me that we made the right decision by arranging for our children to have the MMR. It was the government who put parents between a rock and a hard place – either you have the triple vaccine, or not at all. Blaming parents is easy, but parents have had a difficult decision to make. When it’s your own child, the logic isn’t quite so simple …

  8. Chas, it depends why you decided not to give your children the MMR, and if you made alternative vaccination arrangements (and if anyone mentions homoeopathic vaccines, I will hunt you down and make you eat your own feet, just saying), because you can get the single vaccines, you just have to pay for them.

    Measles kills people. Measles blinds people. Measles wrecks their lungs and damages their brains.

    The MMR vaccine doesn’t do any of these things.

    I rely on herd immunity to protect me from measles, and will do all my life – the MMR vaccine, or my natural antibodies from catching measles again will only provide temporary immunity.

    The effects of adults catching measles are, much like when adults catch chickenpox, much worse than in children, and even in children there is a 1 in 5,000 risk of death (best case scenario).

  9. The risk of autism is also pretty high from measles.

    The single vaccines (Jack will correct me on this I expect) are AIUI not as effective as the triple vaccine, partly because not everyone gets all the boosters as it’s a pain to come back 6 times.

  10. Oooh, don’t get me started. This total non-understanding of herd immunity, so the guy thinks his decision not to vaccinate only affects HIS children. Gah! Combine that with people’s general inability to assess risk and you have a potential disaster situation.

    Didn’t realise London had got to the point where there is no herd immunity. Scary.

  11. Amen. I get more than a little peeved at people who choose to put everyone else at risk because they choose not to vaccinate. There are legitimate reasons not to vaccinate, to postpone or follow an alternate schedule. There are not, however, ever legitimate reasons for being irresponsible.

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