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Whooping cough victim blasts anti-vaccination crackpots

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Julia Ioffe of The New Republic is battling a case of pertussis, commonly known as whooping cough, and she’s mad as hell about it.

The targets of Ioffe’s wrath fully deserve it, as we see HERE:

Pertussis, named after the elegantly latinate bacterium Bordetella pertussis, starts the way of any cold or mild flu. Then, a week or two later, the coughing starts. That’s because B. pertussis glom onto and paralyze the cilia, the lash-like filaments in your airways that clear it out of mucus, the stuff your body uses to trap and get rid of the infection. The bacterium also emits various toxins, some of which mask the infection and don’t allow your immune system to recognize and attack it. It therefore takes longer for your body to clear it and leaves your trachea so inflamed that it is sensitive even to things like water and air…And while my having pertussis at my age seems absurd, it can also be tragic: In babies, the infection can easily be fatal.

There’s a reason that we associate the whooping cough with the Dickensian: It is. The illness has, since the introduction of a pertussis vaccine in 1940, has been conquered in the developed world. For two or three generations, we’ve come to think of it as an ailment suffered in sub-Saharan Africa or in Brontë novels. And for two or three generations, it was.

Until, that is, the anti-vaccination movement really got going in the last few years. Led by discredited doctors and, incredibly, a former Playmate, the movement has frightened new parents with claptrap about autism, Alzheimer’s, aluminum, and formaldehyde. The movement that was once a fringe freak show has become a menace, with foot soldiers whose main weapon is their self-righteousness. For them, vaccinating their children is merely a consumer choice, like joining an organic food co-op or sending their kids to a Montessori school or drinking coconut water.

The problem is that it is not an individual choice; it is a choice that acutely affects the rest of us. Vaccinations work by creating something called herd immunity: When most of a population is immunized against a disease, it protects even those in it who are not vaccinated, either because they are pregnant or babies or old or sick. For herd immunity to work, 95 percent of the population needs to be immunized. But the anti-vaccinators have done a good job undermining it. In 2010, for example, only 91 percent of California kindergarteners were up to date on their shots. Unsurprisingly, California had a massive pertussis outbreak.

It would be an understatement to say that pertussis and other formerly conquered childhood diseases like measles and mumps are making a resurgence. Pertussis, specifically, has come roaring back. From 2011 to 2012, reported pertussis incidences rose more than threefold in 21 states. (And that’s just reported cases. Since we’re not primed to be on the look-out for it, many people may simply not realize they have it.) In 2012, the CDC said that the number of pertussis cases was higher than at any point in 50 years. That year, Washington state declared an epidemic; this year, Texas did, too. Washington, D.C. has also seen a dramatic increase. This fall, Cincinnati reported a 283 percent increase in pertussis. It’s even gotten to the point that pertussis has become a minor celebrity cause: NASCAR hero Jeff Gordon and Sarah Michelle Gellar are now encouraging people to get vaccinated.

How responsible are these non-vaccinating parents for my pertussis? Very. A study recently published in the journal Pediatrics indicated that outbreaks of these antediluvian diseases clustered where parents filed non-medical exemptions—that is, where parents decided not to vaccinate their kids because of their personal beliefs. The study found that areas with high concentrations of conscientious objectors were 2.5 times more likely to have an outbreak of pertussis. (To clarify: I was vaccinated against pertussis as a child, but the vaccine wears off by adulthood, which, until recently, was rarely a problem because the disease wasn’t running rampant because of people not vaccinating their kids.)

So thanks a lot, anti-vaccine parents. You took an ethical stand against big pharma and the autism your baby was not going to get anyway, and, by doing so, killed some babies and gave me, an otherwise healthy 31-year-old woman, the whooping cough in the year 2013. I understand your wanting to raise your own children as you see fit, science be damned, but you’re selfishly jeopardizing more than your own children. Carry your baby around in a sling, feed her organic banana mash while you drink your ethical coffee, fine, but what gives you denialists the right to put my health at risk—to cause me to catch a debilitating, humiliating, and frightening cough that, two months after I finished my last course of antibiotics (how’s that for supporting big pharma?), still makes me convulse several times a day like some kind of tragic nineteenth-century heroine?

If you have an answer, I’ll be here, whooping, while I wait.

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11 Comments

  1. She was vaccinated as a kid…and didn’t realize she needed a booster. So she even tried to turn that around to blame non-vaxxers saying that if we vaccinated our kids she wouldn’t need a booster. She’s clearly a moron. You can’t argue for vaccine herd immunity if you are clearly not a part of the up to date on your boosters vaccinated herd. As for me, I don’t believe vaccines work. My kid will stay vaccine free.

  2. This person is a moron. Blaming non vaccinated children for her catching something when she wasn’t up to date on her booster. What a hypocrite. Educate yourself before you post something like this that makes you sound like a total ass.

  3. Emma Hutt

    Can I just confirm, were you vaccinated or not? From the article above it would appear that of course you have been vaccinated, but if so, how on earth did you ‘catch’ whooping cough?
    Many thanks.

  4. Emma Hutt

    Thanks, you took the words right out of my mouth. My daughter is unvaccinated and will stay that way, she’s 15 and very healthy.

  5. So the vaccine you recieve didn’t work and now it’s somehow someone elses fault you got sick? Riiiiggghhht. And you expect people to inject themselves and their children and themselves with toxins that prove time after time to fail. Poor you. Now stop throwing blame and having a pity party and start taking a couple thousand mg of vitamin c and some elderberry syrup and get well. In the meantime, research further than the propaganda. You definitely have time since presumably you won’t be going out to infect other people.

  6. I hope the proud parents of the “vaccine free” will be forgiven by their children if they get sick from an entirely preventable disease. I just hope the children aren’t permanently damaged, or even worse, die from a preventable cause.

    http://www.jennymccarthybodycount.com/Anti-Vaccine_Body_Count/Home.html

  7. Emma Hutt

    My daughter has had measles, caught I can only assume, from the boy she was hanging around with who had measles but who was fully vaccinated, he has autism but she doesn’t. She was and is fine, she’s had German measles, and of course chicken pox, all fine. Strangely she’s the only one in her peer group with no allergies, no asthma or skin conditions, and never had antibiotics.
    I know many parents who have lost babies to vaccines, many many more who have vaccine damaged kids.
    I made my decisions way before people like Jenny McCarthy were brave enough to speak out, there’s been opposition to vaccination dating way back to when this barbaric practice began.

  8. Emma,

    Antecdotal evidence doesn not equal science. Your claim that you…. “know many parents who have lost babies to vaccines, many many more who have vaccine damaged kids.” … statistically must be a lie.

    Here is the science:
    http://www.cdc.gov/vaccinesafety/index.html

  9. shawnnews

    I go and over in my mind with this.
    I’m not for mandatory medical procedures by law. Mandatory ultrasounds are the biggest government institution ever courtesy of the Republicans.
    But vaccinating children can save their life.
    But if you give someone a badly produced batch of vaccine you’ve essentially poisoned someone or shot him or her full of placebo.
    The fact that vaccines have wiped out polio should demonstrate that they work.
    Still expdoc is right. People who don’t give their kids the vaccines make them into carriers by default.
    This is where if your personal beliefs don’t match up with reality you could really be endangering yourself or others with illness. The best person to speak with is your physician.
    http://content.time.com/time/health/article/0,8599,2053517,00.html

  10. Emma Hutt

    Polio hasn’t been wiped out in the western world, it has simply been renamed. If you look at the health of young people and kids today it is very apparent that we have a nation of unhealthy individuals, some of this could be down to diet but in my opinion it’s also due to the massive amount of toxins we inject into our babies, we’re attempting to reduce mild childhood infections but now have a much bigger problem with allergies, auto immune disorders, cancer, diabetes, epilepsy, etc, these disorders were almost unheard of in kids many years ago but are now fairly common.
    I’d choose measles or whooping cough thanks.

  11. People like you Emma are going to be severely disappointed with healthcare reform.

    Vaccination programs are about the care of the herd (population statistics). Will there be a RARE instance of a complication for the individual? Sure, but the scientific evidence that immunization programs save lives and prevent serious injury is irrefutable. By the way, there is NO link between vaccinations and autism and the vast majority of people greatly benefit from the prevention of these infectious diseases.

    These kinds of decisions (what is most cost effective for the herd vs the individual) are the real root of the ACA, not some embarrassing lies and execution of a computer program by the President and his team.

    It doesn’t really matter if you like it though, it is too late to change the path of reform. It is coming and people are not going to like where it ends up. Single payer, less access to physicians, more involvement in the active management of your health (what you eat, how you live), less inappropriate utilization of resources for individuals that might cause detriment to the herd.

    We have finite resources and as the population ages they will grow ever more scarce. The lines will be drawn and individuals will not get care that may have benefitted them as an individual if the cost analysisis is not right for the population as a whole.

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