Sick house

Shanna slept through yesterday. Calli woke up with a fever. I feel hot. We leave for Disneyland in 7 days, which means I am semi-amusedly looking for spots. 4 days till we would be able to tell. Whee? Sore throats, minor coughing. Shanna is just not eating and that bothers me. I’m forcing liquids into her though. I’m bribing with sugar-water. (Juice, ginger ale, Sprite, Izze sodas–I bought one of everything that had no hfcs. Hfcs triggers diarrhea so it doesn’t come into my house.) Sugar water just doesn’t come into our house that much so the kids are more willing than usual to drink.

I’ve spent a lot of the morning reading vaccine stuff. Because there is a big outbreak and life is like that.

It is weird to me to read this stuff. I don’t like the pro-vaccine lobby and I have barely less respect for the anti-vaccine lobby. I think they are both hysterical.

I’d like to stop thinking about this topic but I probably won’t until it is out of the news.

I feel very very very very angry when people say that a choice that is not theirs is a “no brainer”. Not your call. You don’t get to decide that for other people. You have no idea how many factors go into this decision and your response is dismissive, elitist, and obnoxious.

I go back and forth between feeling a lot of sympathy for people who have immune compromised children and thinking, “You expect the whole world to accommodate your kid. Good luck with that.”

Should unvaccinated infants *be* in places like Disneyland where there are routinely international travelers who may or may not be vaccinated? Is it really a smart choice? (I took my kid when she was 6 weeks old and completely unvaccinated so this is a question that isn’t just abstract.)

We can’t make the world safe and I feel like that is what the pro-vaccine lobby wants.

We freak the fuck out about controlling everyone near us so we can reduce “risk” but we get in our cars every day and don’t think about the fact that the car is the fifth most likely way we will die.

But man listening to anti-vaxxers talk about how “healthy diet” is the panacea to stop all illness… turns my stomach. If that were true, we wouldn’t have had disease pre-junk food, and pre-vaccines. And we did. So I don’t believe that eating healthy is the whole solution. Yes, it helps. It isn’t the whole story.

It is kind of funny to me that I put a lot of time, effort, and energy into promoting the idea that people get to make their own choices. I’m not sure why I care so much.

My kids have a pediatrician appointment coming up. Time for a check up. Time for more vaccines. Calli will get her last MMR (kind of ironic that it will happen after the trip to Disneyland given the current hysteria in the news) and Shanna says she wants chicken pox. I haven’t asked Calli very carefully how she feels about CP but she may or may not decide to get it the same day as her sister.

It is their body and their choice. I made the choices when they were too small and they aren’t so small any more. They have opinions. They don’t want to get sick. They want to take steps to prevent suffering.

Ok. Yes, ma’am. It is your body. I will treat it how you tell me to treat it. I did my best before I had your directions. I’m trying. I’m going to make decisions you don’t like. I’m trying to err on the side of not doing something if you can do it later. Kinda like you can never take back a circumcision. You can never unvaccinate someone. I’m not going to rush into doing things to your body unless I have a very good reason. Hell, I won’t pierce my kids’ ears until they are old enough to be responsible for the holes.

Your body. Your decision.

Which means that I could let my selfish, ignorant children make decisions that expose lots of other people to bad things.


I have really mixed feelings about Make A Wish sending sick kids to places like Disneyland and Disney World. Non-vaxxers go. Who should get banned for the good of the other side? The vaccination is a choice or not. No one has the choice about whether or not you have cancer. Should schools be allowed to ban kids? They are sending home non-vaccinated kids right now. I can’t say they are in the wrong.

People are going to die. I spend almost much time and energy worrying about how evil I am for giving my kids peanut butter as I spend worrying about whether we are vaccinated enough to protect other people.

I still won’t get the flu vaccine. The news reports about how, “Well… we picked the wrong strains and people are getting sick like crazy… but you should vaccinate anyway!” No. No. No. No. No. No.

Ok, it might decrease how many days I’m sick. I’d rather stay home an extra day. Yes, that’s a privileged position. I also feel incredibly uncomfortable with the fact that everyone is admonished to start anti-virals the minute they know they have the flu. HAVE ANTIBIOTICS TAUGHT US NOTHING?!?!?!?!

Also: I’m incredibly frustrated that almost every news report conflates “people who were one month late on one vaccine one time” with “non-vaccinated”. Because under-vaccination is just as big of a deal as not vaccinating at all.

I have a bone to pick with most of my atheist/science leaning friends. Scientific studies about vaccines tell us about what has already happened. They are not directions for the future. Many of my friends read scientific studies and say, “Now we know what to do!” No. Now you know what *is*. Science does not tell people what to do. That’s ethics. That’s philosophy. That’s… all kinds of other shit. That is fucking religion.

Science is about the process. Science is not about telling people what to do. That’s policy.

I can understand why you want to have your science influence policy… but science is not policy. There is not a direct, “Well if you look at the numbers it is a no-brainer.”

Actually… people are more complicated than that. There are always factors you aren’t considering because real life is not science. It is more complicated than a clinical trial.

Do I think that people who deny scientific results are making good choices? Sometimes. I’ve thought the salt hysteria was stupid for most of my life. I eat a lot of salt. Now scientists are abashedly telling me that it is ok even though for most of my life AVOID SALT was the mantra. Science changes its opinions pretty dramatically over time.

Before you say vaccines are “proven safe” I will say that formulas are taken off the market every few years because of problems. My children were NOT given the same vaccines I was given. They are rather different. To me, that means that the people who were worried about the vaccines… probably had some points. Are their points important enough to not vaccinate in comparison to the benefits of herd immunity?

We are *totally* talking religion and not science.

I’m ok with people believing in vaccines as their religion. That is completely ok with me. I’ll pat you on the head and say “Yay!” the same way I do with my Christians and my Buddhists and my Hindus and my Muslims. I’m super-thrilled you have a rule book for how to be a good person. Let me tell you that is great.

Don’t fucking tell me I have to follow your religion.

I vaccinate. But I am not a Pro-Vaxxer. It is not my religion. Just like I don’t identify as being a dancer. I just love to dance. I will dance all day long if I’m not tied up (and I can still dance while tied up–I’ve proven that lots and lots) but I’m not a dancer.

I’m not a Pro-Vaxxer.

I do not believe that my way is the One Twue Way and I do not get to force other people to be like me. People make decisions for very complicated reasons. Maybe other people think fear plays too big of a part in not vaccinating and I think fear plays too big of a part in vaccinating. We are all fearful. We are just different in how much I think I should get to control millions of other people over my fear.

I have a lot of fears. I’m aware that many of them aren’t rational. I think that many of them are perfectly rational and appropriate. Neither the rational nor the irrational fears are ones I should use as justifications for controlling millions of people.

But what about the poor children who are suffering from terrible diseases who can’t be vaccinated?

Life really sucks. It is sometimes way more unfair for some people than others. That is true. I weep for you. (I’m not being sarcastic. I spend time in my garage crying over the pain of people I’ll never meet. I’m kind of weird.) I will not force millions of people to make a choice they don’t want to make for you.

Wait… isn’t that what most social justice issues are framed as? I’m trying to think of how to frame it and I can’t come up with a good parallel.

Mostly though… no I don’t think vaccination is a social justice issue. Vaccination for other peoples benefit isn’t like anti-racist work. It isn’t like eliminating rape jokes from your vocabulary. I think it is a personal and a moral issue. I don’t think the government has the right to force people to be injected many dozens of times in their lives for the good of other people the same way I don’t believe in eugenics. Nope. This is not like gay marriage or inter-racial marriage or even immigration rights because those things are about not interfering in other people getting to have their lives. Vaccination is forcing someone to DO something.

Someone compared it to check ups for cars in Germany. I would say that driving a car is not a right. If you want to participate in the society of drivers, the society itself has a right to gate keeping. Society telling me I have to vaccinate or… what… exactly… is different. Right now there is no punishment. Let’s see when that changes.

We are want millions of people to go pay a doctor to inject them for the good of other people.

Doesn’t that sound like more something that should come from religion? You have a moral duty as a citizen to care about the health of your neighbors. It isn’t just about YOUR health–the good nutrition does nothing to help your poor neighbors. Your individual health isn’t the only health that matters, what about the people who will die in the next nasty epidemic unless they are shielded?

Does the whole fucking community really get dragged into protecting the most vulnerable whether they like it or not? That’s NOT SCIENCE. Not science. Not science. Not science.

I’m ok with people saying loudly and unequivocally that vaccination is the ONLY moral choice for all people who are healthy enough to vaccinate. I don’t have one ounce of complaint with that statement. Not ONE. THAT IS COMPLETELY OK. You can be a judgmental prick all day long and I will applaud your efforts towards a cause you truly care about. Knock yourself out.

But there are vaccine reactions. I know real live people who have had them. Fuck you if you don’t believe me. I knew a kid who got fucking polio from the vaccine. So don’t act like nothing ever happens. (Yes, I understand we no longer use live virus, yada yada–stuff happens and people try to say it “never” happens and yes it does.) I’ve known lots of other people with other reactions. I go hunting for fringe cases. That’s kind of the basis of most of my friendships. “Hey! You have this super weird experience in you background that other people will deny even happened because it threatens their view of reality. Tribe!!!”

But I know people who have had family members die from various vaccine preventable diseases too. Some of them are rabidly pro-vaccine and others still feel it should be a personal choice.

People get to pick how they die. And whether we like it or not… parents have a say in how safe their kids are kept for 18 years. That is how our country works right now. We would not like the alternative of kids being kept safe from their parents. It would be bad. I know a lot of really good women who are terrified CPS is going to come if they ever yell at their kids. This is not good for families either.

I should have been kept safe from my family. I went through absurdly extreme abuse. But… I have no idea what safeguards should exist to protect kids like me. Kids should have an easier time asking for help in their communities. People need to believe the kids who do come forward. We need to not ignore the kids we see who are struggling with abuse.

Kids should be allowed to ignore their anti-vax parents and get vaccinated if they want to long before they are 18. It should be a medically appropriate decision for a kid to make at 12.

Really, it is more like smoking. Only it isn’t. We don’t have the legal right to force people to never smoke. We just have the right to keep smoking out of most public buildings. With vaccines, you don’t have the choice to protect other people sometimes while still choosing for yourself other times. It is all or nothing.

I don’t think we should force. I really don’t. That’s bad juju. I think shaming people who make choices we don’t agree with will close the door to future conversations.

Isn’t this what people complain about with feminism? That feminists are too shrill and slam the door? The pro-vaccine lobby is too shrill. Instead of shaming and belittling people who make fringe choices we need to figure out how to get them to feel like they are part of an in-group with people who are vulnerable and need to be protected.

We don’t need to tell them how stupid and awful and selfish and bad they are. That has never improved a damn thing.

Do I really believe that everyone should vaccinate?

No. I don’t. I think that if you choose not to vaccinate then you need to voluntarily quarantine yourself at the slightest chance of illness though. If you want to go back to the old days, go back to the old days. People didn’t used to go to fucking Disneyland with the fucking measles. (Yes, I know you are infectious before you can see spots. Usually you have a fever.)

What am I going to do if we aren’t better by Monday? Am I going to go if we are still running fevers? Am I going to be one more selfish asshole going to Disney this year?

No. Probably not. I will probably tell my friend to start looking for possible people to go with them if we are sick on Thursday. I care about ethics. I do think about the Make A Wish kids getting to go to Disneyland.

I couldn’t live with myself if I hurt someone just because I wanted to go on “It’s a Small World”. What a selfish piece of shit.

And so, we all get to make our own choices. I do believe people get to be selfish. Not everyone has my options. Not everyone has the privilege to say, “Meh, if I miss this trip I’m still spending 3.5 weeks at Disney this year.”

Would I be so magnanimous if this was my only chance in a five year period? Man. I might wear a face mask and gloves. I wouldn’t go bare faced and cough on people. But probably… I would stay home. I’m like that. I’ve missed other big trips. I miss adventures because I get sick. I don’t do the walking wounded thing. I probably could but I see it as a problem. It ignores your impact on the people around you.

So. That’s my more than 140 character feelings about vaccines. Since I was asked.


One thought on “Sick house

  1. Noah Gibbs

    Relevant: Scott Adams on “Science’s Biggest Fail.”

    His basic point is that science plus promotion of currently available science fact has done a really lousy job of gaining trust, for all sorts of good and sufficient reasons.

    The problem with “science tells us we MUST DO THIS” is its track record, which is frankly terrible.

    I’m a big fan of science. I am not a big of fan of “science tells us we must.” As you say, it’s philosophy, ethics and/or religion. Fine things, but not science.

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