Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Change the Conversation on Vaccines

Twice in the past week I've run into anti-vax hating conversations online. Not on purpose. They just snuck up on me and hit me over the head with stupidity.

I hate the pro-vax, anti-vax debate. Like most debates of their ilk (abortion, taxes, partisanship etc...), it sets up a false dichotomy and allows logical fallacies on all sides to flourish. Rhetoric is heavy-handed and often all proponents have to fall back on.

Case in point, the conversations I ran across were all rabidly pro-vax, blaming those nasty anti-vaxers for everything bad in the world.

Not one commenter brought up the recent news that vaccines aren't properly stored in most cases, rendering them ineffective. Not even the mothers of immune compromised children. Or the "medical scientists" who hasten to add to the pile-on of 'only morons don't vaccinate.' You begin to see why the whole thing puts my teeth on edge. This is what passes for critical thought on these kinds of issues.

It's just ideologically easier to believe that the reason pertussis has made their kid or their friend's kid sick is the small number of folks who don't vaccinate. So everyone keeps having the same fight over and over, retains their moral superiority and, meanwhile, poor quality control in a flawed, unethical industry festers, hurting us all.

In the mid-90s I was reading the books that brought up quality control concerns with vaccines. It's a major Achilles heel for the pharmaceutical industry and national security (think 'ill-prepared for germ warfare'). That being said, we vaccinated our child because we understand the science and agree it is true. We just hoped it was implemented correctly because that is harder to know, that's the part where everyone is working blind... including the medical staff administering the vaccines.

I remain unconvinced that my child received a high quality product from a properly maintained factory. To my knowledge, legislation has never been enacted requiring the industry to bring manufacturing facilities up to code--it's too expensive and we need the vaccines too badly to close anyone down and force the issue. It's either been blind luck or a blind eye that this information has not escalated like it should.

And now actual data has surfaced that the very doctor's offices exhorting everyone to vaccinate (you should see our ped, they all but put us in a head lock) were undermining the entire vaccine program with poor storage practices. Here are the salient data points:

"Report findings identified 76 percent of the selected vaccine providers had stored their vaccines to inappropriate temperatures for at least five cumulative hours.

The report also found that 13 of the 45 providers inspected had stored vaccines that had expired alongside those that were current. The providers in the study all participated in the Vaccines for Children program."

Pro-vax, anti-vax, alien-vax whatever...this is a problem and it is only the tip of the iceberg.

Yet not one person is asking, 'how do we know our kids are vaccinated?' Because now it's not just enough that they got a shot, parents have no idea if the shot was any good!

But instead of being outraged at documented failures in the vaccine program, we spend all our time calling the other side 'morons'. Because we would rather validate our own biases about who we are vs. who other people are than deal in facts or unite to fix tangible problems.

Really, I don't know why anyone cares about who vaccinates or not, because stupidity seems to be a much more widespread and lethal disease. Now there's a vaccine I would line up for.

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