Friday, August 30, 2013

And Now For Something Completely Different

I am a great fan of Chris Hayes' All In on MSNBC.  While not as much so as when he was Up in the wee hours of Saturday and Sunday morning, his show tends to present more intelligent topics and discussions than others on MSNBC.

So imagine my surprise when he tackled the subject of childhood immunization and the measles outbreak in Texas, and not only lost any sense of reason, but presented a one-sided and snarky attack on those anti-immunization fiends (which include myself).

But wait!  I have found that since I became pregnant way back in 1987 and began to research the pros and cons of vaccination, this topic creates the most irrational, hysterical and enraged arguments by those who promote immunization for, well, everything.

I listened through the segment twice, and then wrote a letter to Mr. Hayes.  But it seems that MSNBC does not invite listeners to send emails.

So I am sending out my open letter to Chris Hayes here:

Dear Chris,

I was catching up on All In today, so I apologize for the fact that these comments come several days after the show.

As I listened to your article on immunization, my mouth dropped open. I have heard you be snarky before, I admit I have no qualms about snark when it is called for. But your tone during that piece can only be described as that of a new parent who is having a tantrum because the rest of parentdom is not complying with your need to keep your child safe. I was so astonished by the piece, that I watched it a second time.

You make the same hysterical comments about measles that have been repeated for decades. Presenting no statistics, you define the course of measles as “rash, all over, and pneumonia and in some cases even death.” First of all, the outcome of a case of measles depends very much on the family's health and nutrition. Secondly, measles in infants and children tend to be very mild, and happily result in a lifetime immunity. Whereas, those people going over to Europe and coming back infecting people no doubt were immunized as children, in which case the immunity doesn't last forever. This also endangers pregnant women who were immunized as children, rather than allowed to have measles run its course.

Let me also tell you that measles is not at all in the same category as whooping cough. Pertussis is an extremely dangerous illness at any age. Doctors should remind people to get re-immunized every ten years, and children should be immunized.

Chicken pox, for which immunizationon is also thrust upon unsuspecting parents, is on the other hand no more dangerous than a cold. My son caught chicken pox at about six months old, felt no pain or discomfort and now has a lifetime immunity.

You claimed that failing to have a child vaccinated “imperils the lives of those kids but also imperils the lives of newborns who are not fully vaccinated.” And then later, we “denialists” are “endangering infants and newborns all over the place.” If you really want to have an infant who is safe from disease, let me suggets that the mother give birth at home, as hospitals are far more dangerous than lack of immunization.  And of course, don't go to the pediatrician's office for all those immunizations; that's where the real germs lie.  And please explain to me, because I have yet to hear any rational argument, just how a person who chooses not to immunize their children endangers children who are immunized.

What I heard in this piece was the same kind of hysteria that led people to douse themselves and their children with so much anti-bacterial soap and lotion that they not only killed off needed bacteria but lowered the body's resistance to infection.

I was disappointed to hear you dismiss Jenny McCarthy's claims as just more “anti-vaccination nonsense.” How dare you dismiss a parent who has seen a healthy child become disabled after an immunization. In fact, there were so many lawsuits in New York State in the 1980's-90's, that the law requiring immunizations before entering school was changed to allow parents to opt out with their physician's written approval. We – neither you nor I – know whether the immunization caused the autism, but parents have every right to be involved in making the determination as to whether they will take that risk with their child.

The spurious arguments presented by your guests, who claim lots of scientific evidence but fail to discuss any, might have been countered by an expert on the other side. I can assure you, there are respected scientists on the other side.

Finally, I had to laugh when you said, “20-30 years ago, I don't think there was any pop-cultural misgivings about vaccinating your kid.” This argument has been going on for decades. When my daughter was born, in 1987, there was tremendous debate about the possible harmful effects of vaccination, so much so that, after reading both sides of the literature, I chose not to have her vaccinated until she was school-aged. Her brother, three-and-a-half years younger, was allowed to opt out, and, on our pediatrician's recommendation, had only a pertussis vaccine. Both were wonderfully healthy, and remain so. And if your child gets all her vaccinations, she won't have to worry about getting infected by the likes of those who are not immunized.

For some reason, the debate about immunization causes usually objective and rational people to go all Rush Limbaugh. You probably should read some of the history and science – both sides – of this argument.



If any of my readers know the magic formula to reaching Chris Hayes, please feel free to forward him my comments.

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