Immunization FAQs, and some nice stories

By Phil Plait | January 17, 2010 8:00 am

COkids_thanksathonI’m a fan of the Colorado Children’s Immunization Coalition, whose purpose is to make sure my home state’s kids are healthy and not susceptible to preventable diseases (they’re on Twitter, too!). Last Thanksgiving, they had a "Thanks-a-thon", letting Coloradans post their messages and stories about their kids. It’s a great read, with lots of heart-warming — and some harrowing — stories.

And while I’m at it, here is a great immunization FAQ posted by the American Academy of Pediatrics. In it you’ll see something very hard to find on the web: actual science-based facts about vaccinations, without the scare tactics employed constantly by the antivax (what some people call the pro-disease) crowd. If you’re wondering about getting yourself or your kids vaccinated, please check out that site and read it carefully. You may be saving not only your child’s life, but the lives of other children as well.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Alt-Med, Cool stuff

Comments (14)

  1. Great stuff… thanks…

    Such kind of information is not really available here in Romania.

    The pro-disease camp is very vocal and agressive, while the govt. institution do not really recognise the need to set up convincing PR campaigns to give the people accurate information.

    The result is that all the vaccination campaigns are facing mounting oposition from the population… even if my country seems to be “first” in the EU when it comes to many diseases and preventable deaths.

  2. DLC

    “It’s the Toxins! keep the Tocks in away from our kidz! ”
    Oh, and the ticks!
    And the Too Much Too Soon!

    but seriously, Phil. good idea to keep reminding people of the better resources on the web.

  3. David McCaffery

    Keep up the good work Phil. I’ve posted this to Dana’s facebook page and the STAVN facebook site.

  4. @danezia

    I was recently on vacation in the Middle-East where the anti-vaccination message is spreading for the same reasons, in addition to the particular propensity in the region for conspiracy theories to proliferate (I have a theory on what causes that-but that’s for another time)

    It doesn’t surprise me at all that anti-vaxxers have been busy outside the US, both the UK-US autism-causation crowd as well as the anti-vax crazies already native to these countries. The big fuss kicked up over both avian and swine flu has made people view both official disease and vaccine claims with a certain unfortunate level of cynicism. Why wouldn’t anti-vaxxers want to capitalize on this?

  5. Floyd

    I have never understood the antivax mentality. Do they WANT their kids to die of mumps, measles, polio, or other preventable diseases? Our kids were all vaccinated at the proper ages, and had no problems.

  6. Dan

    There is something about the anti-vaccination propaganda that many of us may overlook, particularly those who have not had recent experience with vaccination. There are in fact side-effects of many vaccines, and they can scare the uninformed. Two of my children had reactions to vaccines in recent years. One ran a high (40 deg) fever for about a week, and another had substantial swelling and redness at the vaccination site that lasted several days. Both reactions were normal and common, but could have scared someone either not expecting them or unable to access resources reassuring them that there was nothing to worry about. The point is that the common, ordinary side effects of certain vaccinations are substantial enough to scare worried, overprotective, or uninformed parents, and to reinforce the message of the anti-vaccination propagandists (who fundamentally exploit the well-earned reputation as untrustworthy of largo corporatist institutions). Adequate information about vaccinations has to not only explain why vaccination is important from a social point of view, but also what can occur and how to distinguish it from something to worry about. In doing so, one has to keep in mind contexts like the US (or worse) in which access to medical care and information is limited, costly, or difficult for other reasons. The kid is vaccinated Friday. Saturday the kid has a high fever and the medical center is closed. It’s too little to go to the emergency room, but enough to get some parents worked up. They look online, and cannot distinguish easily between the available authorities – there are reputable sites, those of public health and hospitals, and there are anti-vaccine hysterics – but the scared parent’s mind is prepared to accept the latter.

    Finally, a remark about what is the anti-vaccination mentality – they are what economists call free-riders. They save their children from very small risks of side effects, and face no risk from the failure to vaccinate because most everyone else does get vaccinated. The social problem comes when the density of these free-riders is such to undermine the efficacy of their choice.

  7. Ken

    @Chemist: You mean you’re a conspiracy-conspiracy theorist?

    @Dan: Around here parents are informed of the likelihood of elevated temperature, redness, etc. It’s even on a paper handout parents are given if they bother to read it.
    I think a big part of the problem though is the news media in this country loves to spout doom and gloom and “shocking truths” and doesn’t give a rat’s tail feather what effect it has on parents who don’t religiously follow topics like this and know where to get real info.

    BTW, note that thermometers have an error tolerance. We have two infrared ear thermometers, same brand (different age), they read about a degree apart.

    104F for a week sounds extreme to me though (not a doc but am a parent). I’d venture something else was going on. I would not have gone to the emergency room, but I would have been giving the pediatrician a call.

  8. Speaking of antivax…

    Antivax figurehead Joseph Mercola is currently placing 2nd in the Annual Shorty awards under the category #health.

    You can help correct this.

    I’m asking everyone with a twitter account to help rational medicine by voting for @DrRachie, Doctor Rachael Dunlop of Australian Skeptics, a tireless campaigner for science-based medicine, in the #health category.

    If you want to vote for your favourite science-based medicine writer, that’s fine too, but help us knock the quacks off the top spots.

    http://shortyawards.com/category/health/1#

    Come on, it’s a small thing, but let’s get it done.

  9. Thanks for the link, Dr. Plait. Will take a look and add it to antiantivax.flurf.net.

  10. neil

    scare tactics employed constantly by the antivax (what some people call the pro-disease) crowd

    I’m no anti-vaxer but you have to admit that’s ironic.

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