Wednesday, February 11, 2009

M.M.R. - Makes Me Rant

There's a bit of an internet furore going on in the UK at the moment, and it's one that I have a strong viewpoint on; who will be Paris Hilton's new best friend?

No it's not, it's about the MMR jab.

A dopey DJ in London (a town by the coast in South-East England, has a big house near the High Street. And a zoo) dedicated 45 minutes of her show to try and persuade people that the Department of Health was scaring parents into having the jab, even though it might be dangerous, and all just to protect children from a minor disease such as measles. There's a brief synopsis of the web-ding-dong (in particular between the DJ , Jeni Barnett, and the Bad Science blogger Ben Goldacre) here.

I had a listen to the programme, and the letters 'WTF' sprang to my mind, which is an internet acronym for 'I question that interpretation'.

Does she really think measles is a minor disease? Apparently yes. The fact that science has worked it's arse off to make it appear minor in the western world hasn't occurred to her. Untreated, it can lead to respiratory problems, encephalitis and, occasionally, death. It's not just a rash.

She said she doesn't trust allopathic medicine, and gave lots of credence to a homeopath. She's made a decision not to vaccinate her children without actually knowing what's in the vaccinations, because of a roundly condemned piece of research a few years ago by a discredited doctor pursuing non-objective research. She's very lucky her children are healthy, and this is largely because they haven't been exposed to measles as all their friends have sensible parents who took advantage of evidence-based medicine and it's benefits.

A nurse phoned up to remonstrate with her about the damage she was doing, and was labelled as vicious by the errant DJ. This was rubbish, as the nurse seemed polite and determined to me. This annoyed me so much that I thought I would add my ha'penneth to the debate, hence this post.

If nothing else, it's an interesting example of an ignorant parent listening to media scare stories and thinking they are represent the truth, whilst condeming the Department of Health for scaremongering. It may also explain why programmes like this are at least partly repsonsible for the reduced uptake of vaccinations (under 60%) in London, and the increase in measles cases we're suddenly seeing. In 2006, the UK had it's first measles fatality for 14 years!

Anyway, not really much of a whimsical post this, and of course it's the parents choice, but you might be able to tell I'm not exactly on the fence when it comes to my viewpoint on getting kids immunised.

Rant over.

For now.


  1. My son had measles when he was under two. Scared the bejesus out of me and I suffered several nights of minimal sleep. And this was even though he allegedly (I was charged for it) had been given the vaccination. I went through it as a child myself, as well as most of the usual childhood diseases because they didn't have vaccinations for them back in the Dark Ages.

    There is no way I would avoid a measles shot for a child. Even though I eschew flu shots every year.

  2. Well now.. you see this is what can happen when you enter into the world of the all-knowing DJ.

    Far safer to hum along to a few oul tunes on your 8 track ask yer fay-ther and pretend that the big bad world outside your windae is'nae really there.

    So.. about this Paris chickie, what was the outcome?

  3. I'm with you on this ones, Jules, although I have no children. I loathe self-appointed speakers for the peepul and the way in which they try to convince everyone that everyone else is wrong. The irony is lost on them. The latest measles outbreak sounded ghastly and linked to reduced take-up of the MMR. I wonder why people let themselves be scared off it.

  4. Jules,

    It's sad that those without knowledge, skill and expertise manage to obtain a platform to spew out their erroneous ideas. What saddens me is that because they have a voice on television, there will always be those who accept what their hearing as creditable.

    That's got to be the highest form of irresponsibility.


  5. Douglas - I understand the vaccination is only 90% against measles, so your son was just being as awkward as possible.

    Hey Jimmy - your right there. The Paris chickie ddeserves a Glaswegian best friend who can spoil her.

    MDF - Scary, isn't it?

    The U - That's exactly it. They get a faux credibility associated with them when they speak about stuff they know very little about. Prince Charles (a member of a rich German family who live in our country for some reason) does it all the time.


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