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As Diseases Make Comeback, Why Aren't All Kids Vaccinated?
Popular Mechanics ^ | August 2008 | Glenn Harlan Reynolds

Posted on 07/31/2008 7:22:31 AM PDT by yankeedame

As Diseases Make Comeback, Why Aren't All Kids Vaccinated?

The measles, whooping cough and even polio have returned. Why? Because of a new breed of vaccine deniers who are ignoring campaigns for awareness, and ultimately might live shorter—not longer—lives.

By Glenn Harlan Reynolds
Illustration by Koren Shadmi
Published in the August 2008 issue.

Progress is easy to take for granted. When I was a child in the ’60s, polio was history, measles was on the way out, and diphtheria and whooping cough were maladies out of old movies. Now these contagious diseases are making a comeback.

Take measles, for instance. The disease used to infect 3 to 4 million Americans per year, hospitalizing nearly 50,000 people and causing 400 to 500 deaths. In 2000 a panel of experts convened by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention proclaimed that measles transmission had been eradicated in the United States, except for imported cases.

But that caveat is important.

An unvaccinated 7-year-old from San Diego became infected with measles while traveling with his family in Switzerland and ended up transmitting the disease back home to two siblings, five schoolmates and four other children at his doctor’s office—all of them unvaccinated.

Whooping cough has also seen a resurgence: A school in the East Bay area near San Francisco was closed recently when some 16 students fell ill.

The reason for these incidents—and for recent outbreaks of polio—is that the percentage of parents vaccinating their children has fallen, perhaps because some parents see no point in warding off diseases they’ve never encountered.

Religious or new-age beliefs may also factor into the decision: The San Diego outbreak spread in a school where nearly 10 percent of the students had been given personal-belief exemptions from the vaccination requirement. The East Bay outbreak started at a school that emphasizes nature-based therapy over mainstream medicine; fewer than half of the students were vaccinated.

Why would parents refuse to vaccinate their children against dangerous diseases? Many are skeptical of modern science and medicine in general. (And it is true that most vaccines carry exceedingly tiny—but real—risks of serious illness or even death.) But I think most are responding to the widespread belief that vaccines are linked to autism.

Recent studies have soundly disspelled that notion.

And a simple glance at health statistics shows that autism cases continued to rise even after thimerosal, the mercury-based preservative widely blamed for the supposed autism link, was largely phased out of U.S. vaccines by 2001.

Nevertheless, these unsubstantiated fears have led some people to say that getting vaccinated should be a matter of individual choice: If you want to be protected, just get yourself and your children vaccinated.

Only it’s not that easy.

While the measles vaccine protects virtually everyone who is inoculated, not all vaccines have the same rate of success. But even if a vaccine is effective for only 70, 80 or 90 percent of those who take it, the other 30, 20 or 10 percent who don’t get the full benefit of the vaccine are usually still not at risk.

That’s because most of the people around the partially protected are immune, so the disease can’t sustain transmission long enough to spread.

But when people decide to forgo vaccination, they threaten the entire system. They increase their own risk and the risk of those in the community, including babies too young to be vaccinated and people with immune systems impaired by disease or chemotherapy.

They are also free-riding on the willingness of others to get vaccinated, which makes a decision to avoid vaccines out of fear or personal belief a lot safer.

Of course it is the very success of modern vaccines that makes this complacency possible. In previous generations, when epidemic disease swept through schools and neighborhoods, it was easy to persuade parents that the small risks associated with vaccination were worth it.

When those epidemics stopped—because of widespread vaccinations—it became easy to forget that we still live in a dangerous world. It happens all the time:

University of Tennessee law professor Gregory Stein examined the relation between building codes and accidents since the infamous 1911 Triangle Shirtwaist factory fire in New York and discovered a pattern: accident followed by a period of tightened regulations, followed by a gradual slackening of oversight until the next accident. It often takes a dramatic event to focus our minds.

The problem is that modern society requires constant, not episodic, attention to keep it running. In his book "The Escape from Hunger and Premature Death 1700–2100" Nobel Prize–winning historian Robert Fogel notes the incredible improvement in the lives of ordinary people since 1700 as a result of modern sanitation, agriculture and public health.

It takes steady work to keep water clean, prevent the spread of contagious disease and ensure an adequate food supply. As long as things go well, there’s a tendency to take these conditions for granted and treat them as a given.

But they’re not: As Fogel notes, they represent a dramatic departure from the normal state of human existence over history, in which people typically lived nasty, sickly and short lives.

This departure didn’t happen on its own, and things don’t stay better on their own. Keeping a society functioning requires a lot of behind-the-scenes work by people who don’t usually get a lot of attention—sanitation engineers, utility linemen, public health nurses, farmers, agricultural chemists and so on. Because the efforts of these workers are often undramatic, they are underappreciated and frequently underfunded.

Politicians like to cut ribbons on new bridges or schools, but there’s no fanfare for the everyday maintenance that keeps the bridges standing and the schools working. As a result, critical parts of society are quietly decaying, victims of complacency or of active neglect....It’s not just vaccinations or bridges, either....

What do we do about this? To some degree, we have to do what the reformers of the 19th and early 20th centuries did: Hector people about the importance of paying attention to our society’s upkeep.

Alas, our main allies in persuasion will probably be the epidemics and other disasters that take place when too few pay attention. Sometimes, people have to trip and fall to be reminded that it’s important to watch their step.


TOPICS: Health/Medicine; Miscellaneous; Society
KEYWORDS: hippies; luddites; medicalluddites; pleasedieb4youbreed; vaccinedeniers; vaccinetruthers
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1 posted on 07/31/2008 7:22:31 AM PDT by yankeedame
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To: yankeedame
The Mexicans are not vaccinated.
2 posted on 07/31/2008 7:24:20 AM PDT by angcat (Obama is Pimping Bushs ride)
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To: yankeedame

Stand by for a load of mindless anti vaccine drivel and pseudo science that is headed your way.


3 posted on 07/31/2008 7:24:21 AM PDT by Kozak (Anti Shahada: There is no god named Allah, and Muhammed is a false prophet)
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To: yankeedame

There are so many conspiracy theorists who think such treatments cause other problems and scream anytime anyone mentions such things. I don’t know if you can elect to have your children immunized but I’d do it.


4 posted on 07/31/2008 7:24:50 AM PDT by CodeToad
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To: long hard slogger
ping


5 posted on 07/31/2008 7:27:28 AM PDT by socialismisinsidious ( The socialist income tax system turns US citizens into beggars or quitters!)
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To: Kozak

I’ll start: Fear of autism.


6 posted on 07/31/2008 7:27:53 AM PDT by sarasota
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To: Kozak

A site to consider

http://www.909shot.com/


7 posted on 07/31/2008 7:29:09 AM PDT by kailbo
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To: angcat
“The Mexicans are not vaccinated.”

The problem is not Mexicans. The problem is liberal trust-funders who consider immunization declasse. The last two measles outbreaks were caused by globe-trotting upper-middle-class couples who took their unimmunized children places where there were active measles. And these were places like Switzerland — not Swaziland.

8 posted on 07/31/2008 7:29:28 AM PDT by No Truce With Kings (The opinions expressed are mine! Mine! MINE! All Mine!)
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To: yankeedame

As much merit as Glenn Reynolds point has, the pharmaceutical companies also have to be held liable for their lobbying of politicians to stack vaccine requirements onto children that aren’t needed.


9 posted on 07/31/2008 7:29:59 AM PDT by Calpernia (Hunters Rangers - Raising the Bar of Integrity http://www.barofintegrity.us)
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To: sarasota
“Fear of autism.”

Yup. That's longterm. I guess some parents feel it better for their kids to die of diphtheria or polio. At least that way the problem is over fast.

10 posted on 07/31/2008 7:31:33 AM PDT by No Truce With Kings (The opinions expressed are mine! Mine! MINE! All Mine!)
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To: yankeedame

Illegal. Immigration.

When I had to take my children back to the doctor to get vaccinated for three more viruses, I asked why they added them. The doctor said too many immigrants from Mexico were bringing in old diseases that needed to be stopped. I said spefically Mexico and he said yes, that is what the memo from the CDC said.


11 posted on 07/31/2008 7:32:22 AM PDT by autumnraine
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To: sarasota

Maybe we could get the ‘evil rich’ to pay the Federal excise taxes on poor peoples’ vaccinations?


12 posted on 07/31/2008 7:33:22 AM PDT by RangerM (Barack Obama: CHANCE.....We Can't Afford To Take!)
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To: No Truce With Kings

A friend of mine whose kids aren’t immunized says that their doc advised them to get the shots if they go to third world countries. I posed the question: What about Disneyland/World?


13 posted on 07/31/2008 7:33:40 AM PDT by sarasota
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To: yankeedame
Religious or new-age beliefs may also factor into the decision: The San Diego outbreak spread in a school where nearly 10 percent of the students had been given personal-belief exemptions from the vaccination requirement.

Religion isn't that common of a reason to not vaccinate BUT people know they can use religion as a way to become exempt so they lie.

It's like anything....headlines scream half truths to sell papers and most people don't have the knowledge or inclination to read past the hype. Fear sells papers and people react to it.
14 posted on 07/31/2008 7:34:37 AM PDT by socialismisinsidious ( The socialist income tax system turns US citizens into beggars or quitters!)
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To: No Truce With Kings

You are talking about vaccines that were already in place, this is talking about new ones added due to newly increased numbers of things like Hepatitus (sp), TB, and one other I can’t think of.

Oh yeah, and that Chicken Pox vaccine. I scoffed at that one, but my daughter had the vaccine and still had an outbreak that almost put her in the hospital. They told me if she hadn’t have had the vaccine, she would might have died. She was the type case the vaccine was made for. As bad as it was, the pox only lasted four days instead of the usual 7 to 10. So in that case it helped.


15 posted on 07/31/2008 7:35:51 AM PDT by autumnraine
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I have in-laws who didn’t vaccinate their kids, figuring they didn’t need to vaccinate since they home school. They ended up with a houseful of Whooping Cough (pertussis).


16 posted on 07/31/2008 7:38:02 AM PDT by Justice4Reds
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To: sarasota

The component of the measles vaccine that was blamed for autism has been removed from the vaccine. Next?


17 posted on 07/31/2008 7:41:48 AM PDT by knittnmom (...surrounded by reality!)
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To: autumnraine

“Chicken Pox vaccine. I scoffed at that one, but my daughter had the vaccine and still had an outbreak that almost put her in the hospital. They told me if she hadn’t have had the vaccine, she would might have died...”

If you believe that line, your naive.


18 posted on 07/31/2008 7:41:52 AM PDT by kailbo
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To: yankeedame

because we have allowed ourselves to turn into a third-world country with an influx of mexicans and those from south of the border...we are having a big problem here in DFW because of foul water in swimming pools...it is getting worse...proportional to the influx of mexicans


19 posted on 07/31/2008 7:44:04 AM PDT by devane617 (we are so screwed)
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To: kailbo

You might think I am niave, but I know how bad she had it.

So you are saying people don’t die from Chicken Pox? I really would have hated to see how bad it would have been without the vaccine.


20 posted on 07/31/2008 7:51:12 AM PDT by autumnraine
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To: sarasota

The autism scare is junk science worthy of the Al Gore global warming baloney.

Brought to you by people who make money selling books and suing companies.

I will not get into a substantive debate on the Internet; it is futile.

I will say I am a MENSA member, MIT and Texas A&M graduate, and successful businessman, extreme conservative, and after much study and review came to the conclusion that anyone who does not vaccinate their children is an idiot.


21 posted on 07/31/2008 7:51:52 AM PDT by MeanWestTexan ("Jesse Jackson was an important figure; paving the way for Osama bin Laden to appear" -- Dan Rather)
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To: angcat
Yeah. But hat couldn't be the problem. Right?
22 posted on 07/31/2008 7:52:20 AM PDT by isrul (Help make every day, "Disrespect a muzzie day.")
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To: angcat

It’s not the Mexicans.

http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/2043616/posts?page=21#21


23 posted on 07/31/2008 7:52:54 AM PDT by elc
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To: Calpernia
I know that doctors want kids to have a lot of shots while they are infants. A lot.
24 posted on 07/31/2008 7:54:59 AM PDT by isrul (Help make every day, "Disrespect a muzzie day.")
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To: kailbo
In order to register for college my daughter got the menigitis B shot which is supposed to be give in a series of two or three (can't remember which) vaccinations. The first one almost killed her so she did not go back for the others. The doctor signed the required form that she had completed the series but told us that she should never be exposed to that vaccine again.

Never again.

25 posted on 07/31/2008 7:55:33 AM PDT by texgal (end no-fault divorce laws return DUE PROCESS & EQUAL PROTECTION to ALL citizens))
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To: autumnraine
That truth must not be told. It's those damn liberals who went to Switzerland.
26 posted on 07/31/2008 7:56:37 AM PDT by isrul (Help make every day, "Disrespect a muzzie day.")
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To: isrul

We have a number of investigations in our state (NJ) about some doctors being on a separate pay arrangement with the pharmaceutical companies to promote many programs and refer too.

So, I’m not sure if it is doctors, per say, wanting all of those shots.

Like a said, the author of this article does have valid points. But, I would like to see equal pressure put on the pharmaceuticals as well.


27 posted on 07/31/2008 8:00:25 AM PDT by Calpernia (Hunters Rangers - Raising the Bar of Integrity http://www.barofintegrity.us)
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To: MeanWestTexan
well this idiot has very healthy kids!

In fact my son came down with mono- lasted less than a WEEK! That week was over Spring Break. He is in his 2nd year of college, and has never missed a day of school due to being sick.

I like being an idiot with happy and healthy kids.

My drug of choice comes in a silver can!

;-)

28 posted on 07/31/2008 8:03:19 AM PDT by eeevil conservative (GIVE ME A PLACE TO STAND AND I WILL MOVE THE EARTH....Archimedes)
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To: angcat

My boss isn’t having his new daughter vaccinated. He says it causes brain damage .... I really hope they don’t have to pick out a baby coffin and funeral clothes rather than new toys and bottles.


29 posted on 07/31/2008 8:03:56 AM PDT by utherdoul
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To: autumnraine

People do die of Chicken Pox. Persons who are immunosuppressed or sick in some other way. A normal healthy child, with no other complications won’t die of the disease if, when acquired, is appropriately care for.

However, my point is, if anything, the vaccine may have contributed to the virulence of the strain your daughter had. I’d be curious as to how soon after the vaccination your daughter became symptomatic.


30 posted on 07/31/2008 8:04:46 AM PDT by kailbo
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To: yankeedame

Thanks for you post. At the age of ten(1946)I had 2 buddies age 6 & 8 who had Polio. One was in an iron lung for a year or so. The other was in a full plaster body cast for almost a year and had a bad leg the rest of his life. Their recoveries were slow and painful.
Since the Polio vaccines were effective, millions of people have completely forgotten about that terrible disease.
My two sons and two grandsons have always taken the reccomended vaccines and have never had any adverse reactions. Because there are some small percentage of sad stories (re; Don Imus)the modern liberal ideas are don’t take the shots and all will be well. That is a new form of Russian roulette.


31 posted on 07/31/2008 8:05:55 AM PDT by GOYAKLA (My Tee shirt for 2009-2012:" I voted FRED don't you wish you did")
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To: MeanWestTexan

“I will say I am a MENSA member, MIT and Texas A&M graduate, and successful businessman, extreme conservative, and after much study and review came to the conclusion that anyone who does not vaccinate their children is an idiot.”

Let’s all bow to the “Mensa member”

Thank you your highness for steering us idiots back on track.


32 posted on 07/31/2008 8:07:08 AM PDT by kailbo
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To: eeevil conservative

Good luck. God loves fools, sometimes.

Hope your son doesn’t get measels while his wife is pregnant with your grandchildren . . . . or mumps before, so you have no grandchildren.

Your choice. Just wish you weren’t dangerous to the rest of us. Maybe you could go segregate yourselves somewhere to get away from the rest of us evil vaccinators. After you all die of some disease, I’ll buy the land cheap.


33 posted on 07/31/2008 8:08:07 AM PDT by MeanWestTexan ("Jesse Jackson was an important figure; paving the way for Osama bin Laden to appear" -- Dan Rather)
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To: kailbo

Yes, you should listen to your betters.


34 posted on 07/31/2008 8:09:15 AM PDT by MeanWestTexan ("Jesse Jackson was an important figure; paving the way for Osama bin Laden to appear" -- Dan Rather)
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To: kailbo

It was two and half years later. She was vaccinated at 6 and developed it at 8.

Although I do question if there aren’t other strains of the Chicken Pox that the vacccine doesn’t cover fully.

Their biggest concern was her eyesight as she got the pox blisters under her eyelids. That was the scariest part for me as a mom and the most horrific thing to see on a child.


35 posted on 07/31/2008 8:10:49 AM PDT by autumnraine
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To: MeanWestTexan

LOL

are you always so overly dramatic?

But the pharmecutical Gods truly love you!!!!


36 posted on 07/31/2008 8:11:08 AM PDT by eeevil conservative (GIVE ME A PLACE TO STAND AND I WILL MOVE THE EARTH....Archimedes)
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To: kailbo

I have a son who had the chicken pox vaccine as a toddler (about 2 yrs old). He got chicken pox at age 6 or 7. I had the vaccine as a child also. His chicken pox virus gave me shingles. Sometimes vaccines just don’t work.


37 posted on 07/31/2008 8:11:36 AM PDT by DJ MacWoW ("Make yourself sheep, and the wolves will eat you" Benjamin Franklin)
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To: yankeedame

I think people who don’t vaccinate their kids against dangerous diseases are stupid - I got pretty much all the vaccines, nothing bad ever happened as a result except some mild symptoms after my flu and pnuemonia shots. Granted, I didn’t get a chicken pox vaccine, either because it didn’t exist when I was that young or I got it before I would have been vaccinated (I was well under a year old), and I’m holding off on the HPV vaccine until it’s been around for longer, but otherwise I got everything and I’m perfectly healthy.

The thing I’m confused about is the college vaccines. My brother and I both got Hepatitis B shots, but only my school required a TB test, and only his school required a meningitis vaccine... I really didn’t get it.


38 posted on 07/31/2008 8:13:33 AM PDT by Hyzenthlay (I aim to misbehave.)
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To: elc

It’s not the measles either.

This isn’t about Measles, it’s about virulent TB and Hepatitus.


39 posted on 07/31/2008 8:13:33 AM PDT by autumnraine
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To: texgal

That’s the other one I couldn’t remember.

Both my daughters got so sick from that shot! My oldest couldn’t move her arm for almost a week and had high fevers and vomiting. Same for the other one, but not as severe.


40 posted on 07/31/2008 8:14:36 AM PDT by autumnraine
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Don’t they implant the chips during the vaccination process?

//tin foil hat off


41 posted on 07/31/2008 8:14:51 AM PDT by Vermont Lt (I am not from Vermont. I lived there for four years and that was enough.)
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To: eeevil conservative

Then you are a very lucky person to have not had your children come into contact with diseased people.


42 posted on 07/31/2008 8:15:17 AM PDT by autumnraine
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To: eeevil conservative

I don’t think she is being being overly dramatic. It is true that mumps can make you sterile. And if your son gets the measles, it can be passed to the unborn child, even if the mother has been immunized herself.


43 posted on 07/31/2008 8:17:20 AM PDT by autumnraine
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To: utherdoul

I have an aunt (in-law) who got measles encephalitis before immunizations were available. she has been institutionalized for over 50 years. The immunizations are at least a hundred times less likely to cause this than the disease.


44 posted on 07/31/2008 8:18:21 AM PDT by js1138
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To: yankeedame

Two Words.........

ILLEAGLE ALIENS !


45 posted on 07/31/2008 8:18:28 AM PDT by austinmark (** Never Underestimate the Power of Stupid People in Large Groups ! **)
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To: eeevil conservative

Phama companies don’t make squat on routine vaccines.

The patents ran out long ago.

Anti-vaccine whackos, however, get sick and make a lot of money for the phama industry.


46 posted on 07/31/2008 8:18:43 AM PDT by MeanWestTexan ("Jesse Jackson was an important figure; paving the way for Osama bin Laden to appear" -- Dan Rather)
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To: Kozak
Stand by for a load of mindless anti vaccine drivel and pseudo science that is headed your way.

(I LOVE your about page, and don't worry about missing ND, I drove through it. There's a Wal-Mart in Fargo and that's about it. Nice people though.)

Second, I hope you will allow for some of us who are neither unabashedly pro-vaccination nor anti. We take each type of vaccine on a case-by-case basis.

First, there is no need to get nine vaccines in one sitting. We prefer to spread it out.

Second, with a stay at home mom (no day care), there is no urgency in getting all of the vaccines before age two. Again, we like to spread it out.

Third, we do not want to be the first on the block to try one. The first version of the Hepatitis B vaccine had real serious problems and had to be pulled from the market. The HPV vaccine may be even worse. The Lyme Disease vaccine has a bad track record of effectiveness, and sometimes causes side-effects disproportionate to its usefulness.

Fourth, if the resulting disease is only very rarely serious or if the protection of the vaccine wears off after a while, we'd rather just get the disease and be truly immune. The custom of purpose acquiring chicken pox when very young and being quarantined works well (except for the most sickly children, who may well have problems with the vaccine). There is a real problem with the first generation of chicken pox vaccine receivers acquiring it in college, when it is more serious. On the other hand, tetanus shots have a good track record, and we get ours along with boosters as needed, as we live in the country and are at somewhat higher risk.

Fifth, we prefer variations of the vaccine that have NO (as in en-oh) chance of spawning the disease. Only a few years ago the ONLY cases of polio in the U.S. were caused by the live cell polio vaccine. The U.S. has since followed most of the rest of the world and now goes with the more expensive and somewhat less effective dead cell version.

Sixth, all things being equal, we would rather get a vaccine that where the original human donor was not purposely aborted for purposes of the vaccine. This is not an absolute requirement.

We may have other considerations, but they are not mindless, and it is not pseudo-science. We think of it as prudence.
47 posted on 07/31/2008 8:19:02 AM PDT by Dr. Sivana (There is no salvation in politics)
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To: yankeedame
I am generally in favor of vaccintion with one hard exception for myself and that is influenza. The only serious cases of flu I have ever had followed the only two flu shots I ever had. I won't măke that mistake again.
48 posted on 07/31/2008 8:20:56 AM PDT by arthurus
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To: autumnraine
I said spefically Mexico and he said yes, that is what the memo
from the CDC said.


I can't help but wonder if some brave person at the CDC put their
career on ice (or lost it) by telling the truth.
49 posted on 07/31/2008 8:21:10 AM PDT by VOA
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To: autumnraine

where do you think he got the mono from?

folks, I will not bash anyone who does vaccinate their children, ever.

But I did my research on this issue, and I am very happy with my own decision- my children are very pleased also.

If you all are pleased with your decision, then God Bless you. I offer no words or thoughts of ill will whatsoever, and no assumptions on your IQ.


50 posted on 07/31/2008 8:21:22 AM PDT by eeevil conservative (GIVE ME A PLACE TO STAND AND I WILL MOVE THE EARTH....Archimedes)
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