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.
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.