Tessa turned me on to a great cover story on WIRED this month all about the “epidemic of fear” some parents have about vaccines, and needless to say, it is totally one-sided and totally awesome. I’m particularly glad that the piece’s author, Amy Wallace, takes Jenny McCarthy and Jim Carrey to the woodshed for their hopelessly ignorant – and dangerous – assertions about vaccines and autism.
I know I’ve yammered about this before (and recently) but this has the potential to become a very big deal if the anti-vax movement grows any stronger. Your kids and, well, you are going to find some scary shit coming down the pike as America loses its herd immunity, and suddenly breathing inside an airplane will conjure measles and rotaviruses. The H1N1 flu – while deadly to pregnant women and kids under two – will probably not be the pandemic they write books about, but everyone’s “no thanks” reaction to the vaccine speaks ill of the next big mutation.
You can bet your sweet ass that I’m getting the swine flu vaccine if I can – so would Tessa, and my daughter. I’d get TWO of them if I thought it’d work better. In fact, if they made a Swine Flu Extra Grande Latté with Weakened Tetanus Coconut Flakes, I’d get that motherfucker too.
There’s a delicious quote from Carl Sagan in the article that puts the anti-vax hysteria into human terms: “A great many of these belief systems address real human needs that are not being met by our society.” In other words, our current American lives leave us with a helplessness, or a lack of community, that is filled by the belief of the irrational.
Interestingly, that idea has helped me understand more about the teabaggers, the birthers, the town-hall crazies and the odd enclaves of American wingnutters that strike us progressives as irredeemably stupid. It may not be so much about the topic itself (abortion, taxes, Obama etc.) and more about the subconscious joy you get by being part of something bigger. Certainly I felt it in Washington D.C. when we went to the inauguration. I imagine it must feel good to some people to make a sign saying “OBAMA IS A FASHIST AND I BROT MY GUN” and commiserate with their idealogues, even if it makes me want to ralph.
I guess it’s fine for parents not to vaccinate their kids, as long as they keep them locked in their houses, and away from schools, markets, airplanes, my family, playgrounds and restaurants. After all, there’s seven times more mercury in a tuna sandwich than a vaccine, and I’d hate for their kids to accidentally eat one. Oh yeah, even though there are barely any vaccines left that have mercury. Oh, and even though six separate independent studies showed that mercury had nothing to do with autism.