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.