Home / General / Another Victim of (Jenny) McCarthyism

Another Victim of (Jenny) McCarthyism


A reminder that the diseases you might contract because of anti-vaccination crackpots are seriously bad:

At this writing, I have been coughing for 72 days. Not on and off coughing, but continuously, every day and every night, for two and a half months. And not just coughing, but whooping: doubled over, body clenched, sucking violently for air, my face reddening and my eyes watering. Sometimes, I cough so hard, I vomit. Other times, I pee myself. Both of these symptoms have become blessedly less frequent, and I have yet to break a rib coughing—also a common side effect. Nor do I still have the fatigue that felled me, often, at my desk and made me sleep for 16 hours a night on the weekends. Now I rarely choke on things like water, though it turns out laughing, which I do a lot of, is an easy trigger for a violent, paralyzing cough that doctors refer to not as a cough, but a paroxysm.


here’s a reason that we associate the whooping cough with the Dickensian: It is. The illness has, since the introduction of a pertussis vaccine in 1940, has been conquered in the developed world. For two or three generations, we’ve come to think of it as an ailment suffered in sub-Saharan Africa or in Brontë novels. And for two or three generations, it was.

Until, that is, the anti-vaccination movement really got going in the last few years. Led by discredited doctors and, incredibly, a former Playmate, the movement has frightened new parents with claptrap about autism, Alzheimer’s, aluminum, and formaldehyde. The movement that was once a fringe freak show has become a menace, with foot soldiers whose main weapon is their self-righteousness. For them, vaccinating their children is merely a consumer choice, like joining an organic food co-op or sending their kids to a Montessori school or drinking coconut water.

Read the whole etc.

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  • jim, some guy in iowa

    it’s not just a consumer choice. it’s about purity as a fetish

    • GoDeep


    • Yep. And the ridiculous over-extension of the naturalistic fallacy.

      As Terry Pratchett put it, “freedom may be mankind’s natural state, but so is sitting in a tree eating your dinner while it is still wriggling.”

      • Sly

        And then dying at age 19 from extreme sepsis due to abscessed teeth.

        • Karen

          And having fleas. Squating behind trees to poop. All very natural.

      • DrDick

        Dead and extinct are the natural states of all species in the long term. McCarthy and the rest are simply trying to hasten that purification.

      • Barry

        As Terry Pratchett put it, “freedom may be mankind’s natural state, but so is sitting in a tree eating your dinner while it is still wriggling.”

        Or rather, being eaten while still wriggling, by hungry things to impatient to do you the mercy of finishing you off before feeding.

  • Chris Mealy

    Not sure if mocking organic food, preschool, and baby slings is the best way to go here.

    • anthrofred

      She does link to an article by an organic-food-eating, sling-wearing pro-vax mom. I was a little irked at her Montessori swipe, but eh, she’s being sardonic. Coughing for months straight will make you that way.

    • Jordan

      What? The author is clearly mocking people who put vaccinating their children in the same category as giving their kids organic food, sending them to Montessori schools, or using baby slings. Those are all choices of dubious value, but no harm. Not vaccinating your kids harms your kids and harms everyone else.

      • anthrofred

        I think the expectation is that she would be “nicer”, but this is the internet, and she’s sick, and has no obligation to anyone. It’s not as if anti-vaxxers would ever be convinced by a personal pertussis story anyway.

        • Dr. Acula

          And they’re clearly not. The number of people in comments suggesting she’s stupid for getting sick is just… well… Yeah. There are some real winners in there.

          • LoriK

            The person who suggested that isolated outbreaks could be small scale bioterrorism rather than the consequence of his antivaxer idiocy and that we can never know whether that was the case was extra special.

            • mpowell

              I think his antivaxer idiocy is bioterrorism. And probably should be treated as such. Not getting vaxinated for non-med reasons should not be an option.

        • Jordan

          Sure, but I think she also has a good point. I think many of the parents who avoid vaccination do view it the same way they view those other things.

          • anthrofred

            It would be interesting to see numbers on how many people are simply disengaged when it comes to vaccination. I sometimes forget that there are folks who just forgo it because they assume “herd immunity” will work and it’s not worth the “risk”. Anti-vaxxers on the internet are so strident they make you think those who don’t vaccinate all think of it as life and death, while it’s entirely possible some folks are just blase.

            • Jordan

              I doubt there are too many of those. You have to be vaccinated to attend public schools (without a waiver, I guess) in most places, I think. That puts it on the line for most people.

              • anthrofred

                If that’s true, though, then I don’t see what you mean about people seeing it the same way as consumer choices, except that there are certainly people who also see organic food and baby slings as life and death.

                • Jordan

                  Well, they are *strongly held* consumer choices, I guess?

                  I’m just saying I don’t think many parents of kids forgo vaccination because they just don’t care, or are “blase” about it.

                  Their doctors will tell them they need to do it. They will need to do it if they want their kids to attend a normal school. And so on.

                  There are people who are quite passionate about, say, organic foods as well. The fact that is a “consumer choice” (which, admittedly, might not be the right way to frame it) doesn’t mean that they don’t care or are mostly indifferent.

                • anthrofred

                  Right, I think we’re mostly agreeing with each other but talking past each other at the same time; I actually thought you were suggesting that it might be relative indifference by putting it in with that other stuff. Blargh, I think that’s a sign I need to go to bed before I misunderstand even more.

                • Jordan

                  Ha! Everything I post is always what I meant in my most reflective moments, and never the result of alcohol, late nights, or very hurried comments.

                  Which is to say, your “misunderstanding” is completely your fault and none of mine :).

              • Jon H

                Lots of people have been getting waivers, that were originally intended for people with religious objections, not questionable lifestyle choices.

                • Jordan

                  tomato, tomatoh

              • Katya

                Not vaccinating your kids is a pretty strong choice. Pediatricians generally vaccinate as a matter of course, so you have to affirmatively opt out. If you really just don’t care, you get your kid vaccinated. You opt out because you are “worried about overloading his immune system” or whatever other dumb reason parents give who choose not to vaccinate their kids (for non-medical reasons).

    • It’s not like the Venn diagrams don’t overlap.

      The same mentality that sees ethical consumption as the ne plus ultra of progressive post-modernity is the same mentality that leads to anti-vaccinationism in affluent areas.

      • Jordan

        Is it?

        “The same mentality that sees ethical consumption as the ne plus ultra of progressive post-modernity [contemporary life] is the same mentality that leads to anti-vaccinationism in affluent areas.”

        That reads, better, right? Anti-vaccination isn’t a progressive thing by any means, even if lots of rich assholes who vote for democrats are a large constituency.

        • No, I don’t think it does.

          Look at the centers of these recent outbreaks – leaving aside cases like in Texas where it was a nutso megachurch, and thus a different phenomenon at work, they’re mostly in affluent, well-educated coastal areas that are more politically progressive.

          And the focus on ethical consumerism exists much more on the progressive side than on the conservative side.

          • Jordan

            I mean, I could quite easily be very wrong.

            But I would still say it isn’t the result of “ethical consumerism”. It is the result of asshole rich people who happen to vote for democrats. “Ethical Consumerism” means things like not buying sweatshop clothes or buying local food. Each purportedly is at least for the benefit of others.

            That isn’t the case for anti-vaxxers. They are certainly engaging in a consumer-choice driven model of behavior. But they aren’t doing it for anyone else’s benefit. They are doing it because they are morons and think little Johnny might get autism because of the vaccine, or they are supreme assholes and are doing it because they want to avoid the tiny risk associated with vaccines and don’t care that this hurts everyone else.

            Neither of those reasons match up well with “ethical consumerism.”

            • Jon H

              Being anti-vax is a way of being an asshole that is open to everyone who believes every health-related infographic their very crunchy friends distribute, regardless of income.

              They may not be able to afford the latest chic child rearing fads and woo, but they can decline to have their kids vaccinated.

            • Let me be more clear:

              There is an attitude sometimes found on the left that views ethical consumerism as a substitute for activism – i.e, buy local food and somehow that will deal with factory farming, etc. That’s somewhat different from anti-sweatshop campaigns and the like that tend to involve actual activism (coordinated boycotts, mobilizing major institutions, etc.).

              There is a sub-strata of the ethical consumer folks – think the people who only buy organics because they disapprove of ‘chemicals’ in general, or the anti-GMO folks who don’t focus as much on Monsanto establishing a seed monopoly and more on the purity idea – who have this naturalistic fallacy thinking that leads them to anti-vaccinationism.

          • You can’t leave aside Texas, or Oregon/Washington which are not propelled by granola people at all.

            Also: I think one problem with your formulation is that you are arguing as though the purity/what I put in my body police are primarily of a liberal bent. But there is a long standing thread of biblical purity (or people of the book purity) thought that focuses very much on the body as a temple and what you put in your mouth. 7th day adventists, Nation of Islam, Baptists who eschew alcohol, back to the landers, the tiny sect of crunchy cons, the entire Mormon Church–there is a long history of crazy food and medical beliefs which are associated with rural, non liberal, American religious sects.

            Consumption, Medicine, Commensality are all integral to the way everyone thinks about themselves.

            I think the upper class anti vaxxers (not all of them liberal at all) are partaking of a special upper class fantasy that they have access to arcane knowledge denied to regular people–the kind of people who their kids would go to school with in public school. “Having” to send your kid to a public school rather than a private one may itself be highly socially and emotionally problematic for these people who may be upper income but not truly wealthy so avoiding vaccines becomes a marker of your specialness and your child’s difference from those other kids. My guess is that this is very much a new form of scarification/ritualized group membership and if everyone were doing it or the lower classes in these communities began doing it the upper classes would flee to some other marker.

            • I’m not leaving them out altogether, I’m suggesting that they’re part of a different phenomenon and tend to involve different demographics.

          • djw

            The existing poll data suggests anti-vax tendencies exist across the political spectrum, but the evidence that the lean right is greater than the evidence that they lean left. None of the polls I can find entirely satisfy me on wording: any variation of “do you trust the government” questions are going to make the no answer skew right, for example. But there is some evidence of a slight rightward skew.

          • BruceJ
  • Jordan

    Jesus. Those links in the article to videos of people with pertussis are heartbreaking.

    For some reason my brother-in-law is a chiropractor. He didn’t want to vaccinate my niece. My sister said: fuck you, she is getting vaccinated. Thank God.

    • The prophet Nostradumbass

      He probably figured he could cure anything by doing back cracking.

      • Jordan

        He probably does. But it is just another reminder that anti-evidence woo types cling together. And are actively harmful.

        • Richard Hershberger

          Modern chiropractic comes in two versions: a strong and a weak. The strong version is definitely woo: the whole spinal problems as the key to all disease crap. The weak version is not woo, or at least not very much. It is essentially specialized physical therapy emphasizing the spine. A non-woo chiropractor is perfectly willing to tell a patient to go see an M.D., because the patient has a condition a chiropractor can’t treat. Anti-vaccination isn’t even in the picture.

          The majority of chiropractors in the US are non-woo, but there are a few woo ones out there. There can be benefit from non-woo chiropractic treatment, but you have to do your homework first.

          • Rob in CT

            Yep. I’ve encountered woo-heavy chiropractors and very practical ones who make no claims about curing your diptheria by cracking your bones.

            In my experience (anecdotes ahoy!), I find chiropractic mildly helpful for my screwy back. YMMV.

            • BubbaDave

              Osteopaths are actual medically trained doctors who also have training in spinal manipulations. I’m a big fan of the D.O. as a general physician, largely because in my experience they have more tools available to them and thus are less likely to fall into either the “Medicate ALL the things!” or the “Spine is the key to ALL disease!” camps.
              (Although if I have to err, I’ll pick the first error because it seems closer to accuracy in the majority of cases.)

      • Jon H

        Either that or he’s an example of Crank Magnetism. Having fallen for chiropractic (and perhaps found it quite lucrative) perhaps he’s willing to accept other kinds of crankery and woo.

        • Jordan

          Yeah, pretty much.

        • DrDick

          Pretty common among chiropractors in my experience.

        • rea

          Crank Magnetism.


  • Incontinentia Buttocks

    Unsurprisingly depressing comment thread over on the linked post.

    • Barry Freed

      Don’t you know better than to read the comments?

      Yeah, I did too. Shocking some of them.

      • elm

        My ‘favorite’ was the person who insisted that vaccination was bad because she wasn’t a cow or a sheep and, therefore, should not be expected to contribute to herd immunity. Or something.

        • Origami Isopod

          I think the “reasoning,” such as it was, had to do with vaccines first having been given for cowpox (hence the name). Some other genius in there was throwing around the term “cow pus vaccine,” and the implication seems to be that vaccines are meant for cattle, not humans.

          The other argument that really stood out was:

          The package insert for that vaccine reports that your vaccine causes you to be a walking infection, just WAITING to cause the flu in those you share your air with.

          The person who made this claim went on to repeat it over and over. That, their overall writing style, and their linking of CDC and FDA pages without having the faintest idea what those pages said, all point to anti-vaxxerism being a form of fundamentalist religion.

          • elm

            Or that JenBob trolls more than just this here blog.

            • He might, but he is, unfortunately, legion.

            • Origami Isopod

              Not really JenBob’s style.

              • elm

                Really? Maybe it was Dagneychester then who kept linking to the FDA insert here a while back, I think to demonstrate that Plan B was evil or something. I don’t remember the specifics, though I do remember the insert did not say what he claimed it said, and someone (Mal?) kept pointing out that aspirin was more dangerous than whatever he was harping about and should we also ban that?

  • Tom Servo


    • rea

      FRCivP 53?

      • Tom Servo

        One of the trolls (JenBob perhaps?) made a comment in a past anti-vaxxers post. The use Special Masters!!!1 was apparently supposed to frighten us all. I guess the term sounds vaguely nefarious to the ignorant/gullible.

        • Tom Servo

          Referring specifically to the use of Special Masters in the Court of Federal Claims vaccine compensation program. Morons gonna…moron, I guess.

  • Went through the same damn thing – didn’t piss myself, but coughing until I vomited was a regular issue, which made meal times all kinds of tension-building. Didn’t break a rib either, but got that pre-passing out tunnel vision not infrequently.

    It’s like drowning in the open air, intensely frightening.

    • Jordan

      Yikes. That is terrible.

    • JoyfulA

      My first memory is holding a fence and coughing, coughing, coughing, sure I would never stop coughing. I was 2, my mother tells me, and at one point I was expected to die.

      (Concurrently, I had a mild case of chickenpox, so now as an adult I’ve had shingles twice. The first was horrible. The second was mild, but I passed it on to my husband.)

      So vaccinate, vaccinate, vaccinate.

    • DrDick

      That is horrific, but you can be grateful for no cracked ribs. That happened to me when I had a severe case of bronchitis and hurts like hell.

      • I am extremely grateful for that; really don’t relish cracking any bones.

    • Katya

      Had pertussis as a 19-year-old. It’s awful, and caused permanent lung damage, possibly because the doctors were so slow to diagnose and treat(because they weren’t used to seeing pertussis). I had the cough for months, subsequently developed asthma, and now everytime I get a cold, I get a horrible cough-until-I-vomit.

      • I don’t get the cough-till-vomit thing any more, but I’ve definitely noticed that when I get colds, the cough is much worse and lingers a long time after the rest of the symptoms have gone away. I’m also a lot more sensitive to smoke than I used to be.

  • Icarus Wright
    • The prophet Nostradumbass

      Jenny McCarthy would still be a crackpot if she had a PhD in molecular biology.

      • BubbaDave

        And in fact it was an MD published in a Very Serious publication in Britain who provided most of the (falsified) evidence the anti-vaxxers cling to. Slutshaming is neither necessary nor sufficient to defeat their stupidity, so what do you say we leave it out of the discussion?

        • The prophet Nostradumbass

          Oh yeah, Wakefield. At least he had his medical license taken away from him. Probably not sufficient for the damage he’s caused, but it’s something.

        • Incontinentia Buttocks

          This x1000.

        • Icarus Wright

          Slutshaming is neither necessary nor sufficient to defeat their stupidity, so what do you say we leave it out of the discussion?

          I must disagree with Officer Sensitivity. Nobody would be paying any attention to her know her fucking name if she hadn’t begun her “career” as Hef’s toy. There are thousands of crackpots like her, yet she gets the press. Gee…I wonder why?

          • UserGoogol

            Yes famous people have more of a voice than non-famous people. Still no excuse to demean her as “Hef’s toy.”

            • rea

              Yeah, if you want to demean her, demean her for selling e-cigarettes.

              • Origami Isopod

                Not to digress or anything, but, as little as I like Big Tobacco, I know a few people who have weaned themselves off regular cigarettes with e-cigs and by doing so improved their health immensely.

          • Origami Isopod

            McCarthy could have also acted in bad movies, done PG-13 rated modeling, etc. etc. and parlayed that into her current soapbox position.

            BTW, her husband Jim Carrey is even more famous than she is, AND he’s an anti-vaxxer too.

            Your eagerness to point and yell “WHORE!” is rather transparent.

            • Tom Servo

              Right, especially since there’s an easier and far less dubious way to make the point. Everything she’s done in her career-acting, modeling, up to her soapbox position required precisely zero intellectual qualifications. That doesn’t make her different from dozens of other morons, male and female, soapboxing on issues they know diddly squat about. But that’s not relevant here. When you earn your fame in a way that doesn’t require brains, excuse me if I’m suspicious about your sudden expertise. That’s not slut shaming (PLAYBOYYY), just critical thinking.

        • Lee Rudolph

          There is no equivalence between the modal Ph.D. in molecular biology and the modal M.D. when it comes to scientific understanding of biology.

    • Anonymous

      Playboy Playmates are sold as being vacuous human beings, but referencing it is sexist for some reason.

      • Origami Isopod

        What they’re “sold as” and who they actually are as people are not necessarily the same thing.

        Assuming that women are commodities, sex workers of all sorts especially, and that the advertising is reality is immensely sexist, so I’m not surprised you don’t get why Icarus Wright drew flak.

        • Anonymous

          Models are sex workers of a sort? Interesting.
          She’s an idiot, and being a Playmate is in part indicative of that.

  • herr doktor bimler

    You can’t get too angry with Ms McCarthy for being a crazy grifter. It is what crazy grifters do. The anger is perhaps better directed at the media who looked at her intellectual odyssey — from new-age crystal-peddling Indigo Generation bafflegab promoting her son as an Indigo Child and part of the next Childhood’s-End step in human evolution, to remembering the lights fading from her son’s eyes straight after the injection once she’d decided he was a vaccine-damaged victim of autism — and thought “Hey, let’s give this person a platform!”

  • Keaaukane

    Anti-vaxxers are assholes. But why did the writer of the article not get vaccinated? And if she did, and the vaccine did not work, should that take away some of the anger at the anti-vax types?

    • Jordan

      She did get vaccinated, which you would know if read the article. And no, the fact that vaccines have decreased effectiveness over time does not support the anti-vaxxers position at all (quite the opposite, really).

      • Emma in Sydney

        In my country all 12 year olds now get a free pertussis booster at school, and all new parents and grandparents are advised to get a booster as well, so as not to kill their new baby if they catch pertussis off some unvaccinated kid on the bus. Pertussis vaccination lasts about 10-12 years. Get your booster now!

        • Jordan

          Oh, what a magical, mystical country that would be.

          • Emma in Sydney

            Unfortunately, we currently have a government that seeks to make our medical care more like that of the great USA. I don’t think they’ll succeed, though.

      • DrDick

        Yeah, I had to get a DPT booster here last year (partly because of the anti-vaxers), even though I had the full series as a kid. The reality is that immunity diminishes over time unless your body is re-exposed to the pathogen.

        • delurking

          Last year when I went in for my physical, my family practice physician advised me to get a pertussis booster, specifically because so many people in Arkansas are anti-vaxxers.

          First vaccination I’ve had since I was five.

          • DrDick

            We were having an outbreak here at the time because of those idiots.

        • Origami Isopod

          I got the TDAP last spring. Pertussis wasn’t even on my radar – I wanted to get a tetanus shot because in recent years I’ve occasionally scratched my arm or leg on old, rotting wood with rusty nails in it. Very happy I’m now protected against whooping cough too.

          • Hogan

            I got it a couple of years ago with the tetanus shot I got when I broke a finger.

    • Keaaukane

      Nevermind. Re-read the article, most of my concerns were addressed.

  • Anonymous

    I’m seeing some frightening parallels between the anti-vac movement and the anti-fluoridation movement that just won in Portland – and is now starting up in Philly. The arguments at bottoms are pretty similar “why don’t have to add something to my pure and perfect body?” “why should government make me take something some people say is poison?” “can’t we all just protect ourselves individually?” and “as long as I’m doing what I think is best, no one can possibly be harmed.” On their own, and on certain issues, these misconceptions are fairly innocuous; when they meet up with the usual fringe suspects on the Republican base (conspiracy nuts, survivalist/end times nuts, libertarian nuts, etc), they can win elections, especially local and certainly school board elections.

    Also, two small quibbles with Ioffe’s science: vaccines don’t just “work because of herd immunity” they also work because they *make people immune to disease*. And 95% isn’t the “magic number” for herd immunity for all diseases, just the right value for pertussis. It’s individually determined by how easily a disease is spread by contact.

    • Pat

      People raised on well water understand the need for fluoridation, through our many cracked and broken teeth.

    • Anna in PDX

      I think they are quite a bit related. I have numerous acquaintances who believe both of these things and point out the parallels themselves.

      It is kind of depressing… at least my grandkids are getting vaccinated (though one already got chicken pox at 8 months of age).

  • Manju

    Fucking McCarthy again. I guess this explains Robert Kennedy jr.

    • Pat


      • El Guapo

        Everyone, Everywhere: Manju?
        Boon: Forget it. He’s rolling.

    • DocAmazing

      RFK Jr. wrote a staggeringly stupid anti-vax article in Rolling Stone some years back. That’s the reference.

      • And, judging by RFK Jr.’s DW-Nominate score, we can extrapolate that liberals are the real anti-vaxxers.

  • MacK

    Part of what angers me about this is that my younger brother is profoundly autistic – and it was not vaccine – he was fairly normal until he was a little past 4 years old. For years every grifter around showed up peddling theories, from the “cold mother theory” (Bettelheim), to fluoride, to vaccines, to macrobiotic diets. Everyone one of them sought to exploit fear and guilt on the part of parents.

    I had two first cousins die of Leigh disease (juvenile subacute necrotizing encephalomyelopathy) and the charlatans that popped out from under rocks, all bearing cures that somehow cost inexplicable amounts of money, to torture my aunt and uncle still anger me. My father did sic the fraud squad on one.

    Autism has become the flavour-de-jour for the dodgy fakirs peddling their pet theories – too little is known about it, and in any event it is a spectrum of disorders (as a psychiatrist once put it to me, like saying the kid has a fever.) But I personally hate this bunch – I have seen the harm they so blithely do.

    • ajay

      Part of what angers me about this is that my younger brother is profoundly autistic – and it was not vaccine – he was fairly normal until he was a little past 4 years old.

      That’s more or less the typical pattern of onset. But you can see how parents are going to think “I had a perfectly normal son, and then suddenly he changed: what happened to him?” and start looking for events around that time. Which is of course when you get vaccinations.

      • PSP

        I know a least one loud and vehement anti-vaccination type that fit that pattern exactly.

    • Pat

      The only therapy with evidence for efficacy is an intensive tutoring technique called ABA. It’s not 100% effective, and it’s both expensive and a lot of work. We’re talking 40 hours of training one-on-one every week for several (or many) years.

      • MacK

        There are some other things that have worked. The reality is that autism (and seretonin levels) etc. are essentially a constellation of symptoms with probably a plethora of causes. The result is that when a particular therapy is successful, everyone will then go to parents of autistics and say – “why are you not trying this….” The answer is that what works for some autistics does not work for others. It is like treating all fevers as if they are caused by the same disease.

      • Origami Isopod

        Many people with autism, and their advocates, consider ABA to be abusive.

        • Origami Isopod

          ^ Comment in moderation above, 3 links – tl;dr, ABA is considered abusive by many people with autism.

      • herr doktor bimler

        The only therapy with evidence for efficacy

        “Getting older” is often therapeutic.

        • Wait long enough, it cures all our ills.

  • Everything I can find says the recent outbreaks of Whooping Cough in Ghana are due to decreased effectiveness of the vaccine. That is people are vaccinated and that helps a lot, but it is not as effective as it once was. This also appears to be the case in the US. Vaccinated people are getting the disease because the vaccine has lost some of its effectiveness over time. The rate of immunization here is 94% so the jab at African countries is really uncalled for.


    • Schadenboner

      No doubt she’s just another racist stalinist like all the rest of us, eh?

    • herr doktor bimler

      the vaccine has lost some of its effectiveness over time

      No, it’s a different vaccine — one with fewer side-effects than the original version, but with faster-fading immunity.

      • DocAmazing

        Acellular pertussis vaccine. Came about due to a particularly bad outcome due to a bad batch of DPT in the UK–bunch of kids became hearing -impaired.

  • Emily

    I wonder whether more adults getting boosters will help. When I had my girls I, my husband, and both sets of grandparents got the TDap booster. I’d imagine more and more it will be required for day care teachers, nurses, etc, no?

    • I think teachers and day care workers already get it. AS I understand it one reason you want to get all the kids vaccinated is that some people already in those fields will either be unable to get the new shot (because of allergies or bad reactions) or the shot won’t take (resistant) or they are immunesuppresed because they are receiving other medical treatments (cancer, bone marrow etc) or pregnant.

      All of this stuff is making me decide to make sure that both my daughters get a booster–the 14 year old is prone to asthma and pneumonia, for example. And I’m going to check to see if my husband and I should get a booster.

    • DrDick

      When there was an outbreak here last year, the doctors had older folks like me (I am 61, but I think they were targeting the over 55 crowd) GET A BOOSTER.

  • Manta

    I agree that kids should be vaccinated (duh).

    However, the article saying “So thanks a lot, anti-vaccine parents” is bullshit: she wasn’t vaccinated either (as people above pointed out, she would have needed a booster) and she also infected her mother.
    In other words: she herself was part of the problem.

    • I might have known Manta would take the kook’s version and run with it. The devolution of responsibility for not getting sick to the victim, while freeing the agressor from responsibility, seems peculiarly republican. This is exactly the same argument that rape victims asked for it or contributed to it by where they chose to be living/walking. Also that miners choose their job and therefore choose the risks associated by going down into a badly maintained mine. Its like some bizarre mental pathology, like you were raised playing a game of “spot the victim and turn on them.” Which, come to think of it, would be a very interesting psych experiment along Altemeyerian lines.

      I would bet that you could create a test that would quickly separate conservatives from liberals by offering common scenarios (woman walks down street and gets raped, woman is exposed to unvaccinated carriers of a common disease and gets sick) and asking people to assign blame or praise to one character or the other. The desire to assign blame to the victim, and to go further and attack them as weak or appropriating more than their fair share of the public good, seems to me to be very much tied to conservative ideology and faith based thinking about the individual and his/her choices, about life as a zero sum game, about risk and reward. I’m sure that the penumbra of political alignments and cultural assumptions about who is anti vaxx and who is getting sick matters in how blame is assigned but I know from talking to conservative people that the esire to assign blame comes before almost anything else–before human impulses like saying “what can I do to help?” even if that comes right after.

      • Pat

        I disagree, Aimee. You’d find that response only if the individual who suffered harm did not belong to the group the conservative. If the description of the victim contained alien identifiers, or if the test subject had no reason to identify with the victim, then sure. But if they felt the victim was a member of their group, they’d be more savage than you.

        Their callousness is directed.

        • I think this is complicated by the fact that there are many ways that a person can categorize another person or incident–they can feel total disgust/rage because they classify the person as outside their tribe, but they can also always choose to see the person as “kind of like me” because they are a parent, or they are a child, or regionally connected, or tall/short or working class or whatever.

          The desire to assign blame and require some kind of obiesance to fate/authority/god (to my mind) generally goes before anything else. The reason I think that is that I have had the experience of talking about something–in this case the funeral of a young man who died in a drunk driving accident. The guy I was talking to about it was in a rage because he felt that the kid’s mother had not apologized sufficiently for being the kind of mother who had let her child drive drunk. He was very willing to contribute to the funeral fund (although the family were black) because he identified with her as a parent and as working class and as a victim of fate but he really, really, really felt he had to take a stand for moral absolutes and that he wouldn’t send money for the funeral fund until he had been assured that she acknowledged her guilt/fault. I think this is because random fate and accident, in which no one is “at fault” is very scary to some people–they prefer to live in a world in which people are rewarded and punished by what happens to them and every story has a moral. Assigning victim status to someone without some condemnation of them, or some explication of how they got to be a victim, must be terrifying. Because if people can just have terrible things happen to them right out of the blue, through no fault of their own, then how can you ever feel safe and secure and righteous that your good works are going to be rewarded?

          • Manta

            I appreciate the attack on me instead of on the argument.

            However, I remind you that the person putting blame on other people first is the writer of the article: thus, your rant would be better directed at her.

            • DocAmazing

              She was vaccinated. Her immunity waned, which commonly happens.

              Anything else to add?

              • Manta

                She wrote 2 article about that & we are discussing it here: so it seems there is something to add.

    • The saner comments on the article point out that the adult pertussis booster has only been available since 2006, as a one time addition to the usual 10-year TDa booster. It’s perfectly possible for Ioffe to be entirely up to date on her recommended vaccinations and never have gotten the adult booster if her usual 10 year TDa booster fell before the TDaP booster was available in 2006.

      • Anna in PDX

        This was what I assumed. The addition of the “p” is relatively recent.

      • Colin Day

        The “a” in “TDaP” goes with the “P” (acellular pertussis vaccine). What is TDa?

        • I kind of got lost in all the abbreviations for things I don’t really understand the difference between. I blame the fact that I was trying to brush up on the situation by reading the comments on the article, and trying to figure out which were the crazy ones to be ignored.

        • BruceJ


    • herr doktor bimler

      she wasn’t vaccinated either

      The author has published an update, presumably because of other readers flying to the same unfounded she-wasn’t-vaccinated assumption.

      • Manta

        There was a parenthetical too “she wasn’t vaccinated either (as people above pointed out, she would have needed a booster)”: I was imprecise in the sentence, but the meaning was clear: she needed a booster.

        I will rephrase: she complains that parents should vaccinate their kids not only to protect the children, but also to protect the community.
        However, the second reason applies to her (and us) too: we should vaccinate or get a booster to protect the community too (and in fact she did infect at least one person).

        “There is no reason for me to get a pertussis booster.
        Unless the reason is you people not vaccinating your kids.” I will generalize and suppose it’s always you people’s fault with her.

        • Look at the chart in her update. See the massive drop in pertussis after 1960? See how few cases there were between 1960 and 2000? We achieved those numbers without an adult pertussis booster even existing. So, it seems to me that if there hadn’t been a resurgence in pertussis caused by people not vaccinating their children, herd immunity was working pretty well despite the vaccine losing its effectiveness by adulthood. If the disease hadn’t started making a comeback, they may never even have bothered getting an adult booster on the market, because there wasn’t a need for it.

          She doesn’t mention the possibility that there might be other causes to the resurgence that would make an adult booster necessary. I don’t know that anything definitive has been determined about the cause. But it does seem like the anti-vax movement is a large factor.

          • Manta

            “It does seem like the anti-vax movement is a large factor.”

            I agree with that (I should probably have been clearer).

  • Arnaud de Borchgrave

    You can add to the list of celebrity (or semi-celebrity) advocates against vaccination the cartoonist Keith Knight, who recently used his newspaper comic strip “The Knight Life” to argue that flu vaccines are a government plot to fill people with dangerous chemicals merely to benefit “Big Pharma.” He put this argument in the mouth of a marginal character rather than his surrogate, but still he let it go unchallenged so I presume he means it.

    • This argument about the flu vaccine–that its not “really effective” or that its a scam is going around like wildfire. You see it all the time on message boards, comment threads, and other kinds of internet communities as a “fact.” And everyone knows someone who “had the shot and still got sick.”

      • Barry Freed

        And everyone knows someone who “had the shot and still got sick.”

        And which almost always actually means they got a bad cold, not the flu.

        • I know. These people are totalizers. They are the same people who argue that if one person sees their premiums go up under the ACA then the entire thing is worthless.

        • elm

          Or one of the strains of the flu not included in that year’s cocktail.

          • LeftWingFox

            Or caught they caught the flu around the same time as the vaccination, before the body’s immune system could react to the vaccine.

        • DrDick

          In some cases they actually got the flu, but it was a different strain than in the vaccine. The CDC and vaccine manufacturers try to guess which strains (out of hundreds or thousands) will be dominant each year and mix up a cocktail of the most likely culprits. Sometimes they guess wrong (not too often, however), and there are always other, less common strains circulating in some areas.

      • Karen

        There is a thing in Facebook now showing a flu vaccine box with the words “formaldehyde” and “thimerosal” circled. I have no idea how old the box is, or anything else, but the current allegation is that the vaccine contains BAD STUFF,

      • DrDick

        Which explains why I have not had the flu in the last 15 years, since I started getting vaccinated, despite getting it every year before that.

    • MacK

      The flu vaccine is about 50-70% effective in preventing flus, but it also decreases length and severity even when it fails to prevent. This is why it is recommended for asthmatics and those with respiratory problems.

  • Alex

    “Former Playmate” instead of “co-host of the View.” I’m sure it has nothing to do with slut-shaming and everything to do with the fact that Playboy is where most Americans recognize her from, not some network TV show! The Kids Today and their dead tree publications, I don’t even think they know what a TV is anymore.

    And before the bad faith “Are you saying there’s something wrong with modeling for pornography?” comments start: Puh-leeze. We all know what the New Republican was trying to do. Shouldn’t anti-vaccine nuttery be enough to discredit McCarthy? Is there a lack of material to work with here or is it just too much fun so say “Haw haw that ho is so dumb”?

    • Karen

      I shouldn’t feed the troll. Still, she IS a former Playmate and IS NOT a doctor or other person who has the necessary education to make her opinions on this issue worth anything. She is a dimwit celebrity. I might credit her opinions on shoes, but certainly nothing else.

      • ajay

        I might credit her opinions on shoes, but certainly nothing else.

        I’d question the assumption that someone who is a professional non-wearer of clothes will necessarily have much of use to say about clothes, any more than I, a professional non-rider of elephants, can contribute much to an elephant conversation.

        • Pat

          You’ve not watched the same porn as me – those ladies ALWAYS wear shoes.

          • LeeEsq

            I never understood that particular fetish.

    • Rob

      Most people recognize her from:
      1) Nude Modeling
      2) Dating Jim Carey
      3) Anti Vaccine kookery

      She just became a co-host on the View due to being famous (for nude modeling).

      • UserGoogol

        Very many people are published in Playboy, and most of them remain within that niche. That was what launched her career, but she became famous for hosting a show on MTV. She was a moderately famous TV personality through much of the 90s, and although her status as a minor TV personality was heavily linked with being in Playboy, she wasn’t exclusively relying on nudity as such.

      • Hogan

        So how many other Playboy models from the ’90s can you name? I mean, they’re all really famous, right?

        • rea

          Pamela Anderson. And Scott Brown (oh, wait a minute–that was not Playboy, but the equivalent)

      • Njorl

        I learned about her from a “Famous people who play Dungeons and Dragons” list. I think that would probably not quite be 4) on your list, though.

    • Origami Isopod

      Playboy is where most Americans recognize her from

      “Most Americans” apparently equals straight dudes.

      • DrDick

        Some straight dudes. I have to admit that I only learned who she was when she came out on the antivax horseshit.

        • Origami Isopod

          Yeah, true.

          Also, straight dudes who aren’t relying on the series of tubes for all their pron needs.

  • My day job for 30 years has been pediatric critical care/intensive care, so I’ve seen my share of whooping cough cases.

    Pertussis is an interesting situation. Yes, older children and adults get the infection, and it can make them as miserable as it did the writer in the linked article. And the vaccine (especially the TDaP booster shot) protects those who receive it. But mostly the pertussis vaccine protects infants who are too young to get the vaccine themselves by vaccinating the rest of us. So, more than is the case with other vaccines, we agree to pertussis vaccine as a public service to protect helpless infants.

    And pertussis can kill. I’ve lost a few infants to it over the years.

    • I forgot that point, although god knows I’ve been involved in plenty of new mother discussions of exactly this issue–this is actually a perennial struggle over at the “Dealing With In Laws” site where people who have a newborn are put in the unenviable position of telling their elderly teabagging parents and in laws that they can’t come and visit and play “pass the baby” if they haven’t had their shots or where a genteel anti vaxx attitude about the older kid (first kid) suddenly vanishes when the couple have a newborn and realize that the older kid is coming home from day care with tons of diseases. It may be possible for some families to keep the first and only baby in a kind of self imposed quarantine during the first few months but as the family circle expands people sometimes come to their senses.

      In a sense Vaccines fall into the same category as SS and Medicare and Clean Air and Water–a swathe of the elderly simply don’t remember what life was like before them or how dangerous life was. So when these young mothers are trying to explain about a whooping cough epidemic they are facing complete amnesia from the older generation. This goes along with “we never cared about car seats or special crib bumpers in my day and we were just fine.”

      • cpinva

        this whole situation is kind of weird to me. I grew up with vaccinations as the norm. sure, some people got ill (usually a very mild form of whatever the vaccine was for), and I suppose, out of millions and millions of people being vaccinated, there were some deaths, which sucked. however, the health of the general public was much safer. I don’t recall ever hearing/reading/seeing anyone argue that we shouldn’t be vaccinated. they probably did, on low wattage AM stations, late at night.

        when my children were born, all the adults in their immediate families also had been vaccinated, as a matter of course. my parents, children of the depression themselves, had seen the results of no vaccinations, vs vaccinations, up close and personal, so not getting vaccinated never even crossed their minds. my younger in-laws also grew up being vaccinated, along with their children, so it wasn’t an issue there either. this whole “anti vaccination” thing is a total, potentially deadly, scam. I would like to see ms. mcarthy sued, by the family of anyone who dies, as the consequence of following her “advice”, but I suspect it wouldn’t go very far.

        • DrDick

          I am generally like you, though I do remember kids who had polio as infants and chicken pox, measles, and mumps were still routine childhood diseases (I had them all). Which is why I got the shingles vaccination a few years ago.

      • Yes, folks do forget. In the first 15 years of so of my medical career I saw many children get life-long disability from Haemophilus influenza (H. flu) disease and more than a few died. Now we have a vaccine for that and the disease is now only present pretty much in unvaccinated people (usual blah blah medical caveat — I saw a case last year in a child who had only gotten his first H. flu shot).

        But people forget all that quickly. The other thing is that more and more the parents I deal with want no risk — zero. I’d like that, too, but there is no such thing in medicine. We always weigh risks vs benefits and then choose.

        • Also, and this came up with the HPV vaccine-children are by far the best networked into health care coverage of any class of people in this country. An adult is far less likely to be notified of a new health care requirement (such as a vaccine) or to receive it in a timely way unless they are in an organization, such as the army or a large employer, where the employer decides to make the information and the treatment mandatory. So expecting a busy 31 year old to keep up with the literature on a childhood disease or an unafmiliar pandemic and figure out how to get in and get the booster is just not reasonable. Thats not how people without kids deal with medical stuff. If there is a vaccine or some other intervention you really want to get it to children before they become young adults and are simply not networked in with health care.

        • (the other) Davis

          The other thing is that more and more the parents I deal with want no risk — zero. I’d like that, too, but there is no such thing in medicine.

          And yet I suspect they’re perfectly happy to drive to their appointments with you, despite that trip posing a greater risk to their child than any vaccine you’re going to administer.

          People are funny about risk; the degree to which they’ll tolerate it often seems to be based more on relative familiarity (“I drive all the time, it’s nothing like this scary medical stuff I don’t really understand!”) rather than relative risk.

  • cpinva

    something else I found odd about ms. McCarthy: she’s adamantly opposed to vaccination, claiming it to be unhealthy. yet, she’s now doing commercials for e-cigarettes, also not healthy (they deliver nicotine smokelessly), which strikes me as just a tad hypocritical. of course, she’s being paid handsomely for those ads. money makes all the difference.

    • It makes sense in a sick sort of way. She extended her career by being bamboozled by some quack who said vaccines are bad. Now she’s extending her career by being bamboozled by the creeps who say e-cigs are safe.

    • calling all toasters

      Shut up. Nicotine is fucking fantastic.

    • herr doktor bimler

      One of the reasons she was opposed to vaccination was that the vaccines contain EVIL CHEMICALS, singling out trace amounts of the antifreeze propylene glycol (which as any fule kno is a SOLVENT and therefore massively neurotoxic). Now she is spruiking a nicotine delivery system based on inhaling propylene glycol (which as any fule kno is wonderfully inert & benign).

      Grifters gotta grift. Whatever the story or product, she will vouch for it with the sibcerity of personal experience, which she has the ability to revise completely in memory.

      • DrDick

        Not to mention that nicotine itself is an incredibly powerful neurotoxin.

  • ralphdibny

    The ideological overlaps here are fascinating. On the right, you’ve got conservative fundamentalists who believe that God has perfectly designed the human body to be a temple for the soul, and that man should not interfere in the ways of God. (I had a librarian tell me the other day that climate change couldn’t be real, because man is not powerful enough to interfere with nature. I wanted to ask her why she was interfering with nature by wearing glasses, but engaging these folks never accomplishes anything except raising my blood pressure.) On the left, you’ve got a group who see evolution in much the same way as the right sees God. Misunderstanding how evolution works, they see the human body as perfected by millions of years of evolution. Nature shows often encourage this kind of thinking, emphasizing how a certain animal has evolved the perfect eyes (or whatever) for their needs. Meanwhile, what evolution actually produces is a Frankenstein’s monster, a mix of fortuitous mutations and missteps that somehow never proved fatal to the species. (It always astounds me that fundamentalists will hold up the human eye as an example of the astounding perfection of God’s handiwork, when in fact the eye seems to be designed by a drunken 4-year-old clockmaker.)

    When I was teaching high school English, I kept encountering a pessimistic defeatism in my students. I finally asked them about it, and I learned that their sophomore year, they had read lots of dystopian novels, and what they had learned from 1984, Brave New World, etc. was that anytime man tries to make things better, he fucks it up worse instead. This is the logic of the anti-vaccination crowd.

    • Great post! Off to the side: I’d like to applaud your observation about the absurdity of teachind dystopian literature to middle schoolers. Its just an awful thing to do to them. What is rebellious and educational when done by the child is a horrifically destructive thing when taught at the school level. I understand the impulse by the better schools but its like watching people do brain surgery with rocks to see the execution.

      • Yes, but if you say that about literature, then what about history? Is there a year before which students shouldn’t learn about the ickier bits of history?

        Full disclosure, I went to one of those “Welcome to Reality You Little Snots,” schools and I am sure that between things like reading not fun books and lessons about the Holocaust (and listening to classmates who were the grandchildren of survivors repeat stories they heard from grandma), most of us came out a tad cynical and warped.

        But I have to say, I feel this country is acting out the saying that those who don’t know history are doomed to repeat it, and the neoCons who are clawing for control of school boards want it that way and one of the tools they use is to twist the completely sincere and good concern that kids will be harmed if they are told the wrong thing, the wrong way at the wrong time.

        • This is to Shakezula,

          I’m not opposed to teaching dystopian novels or the Holocaust or Slavery at all–in fact my kid’s school did all of them simultaneously in an age appropriate way using an elaborate curriculum that a lot of schools use which is called (IIRC) “Confronting History And Ourselves.” The people who had the most trouble with it were parents of kids whose families had a really personal history of oppression/displacement who had not yet informed their children that they were in a suspect class. The extremely blonde woman with two blonde, blue eyed, kids by her Russian husband who had not yet fully elaborated on her own Cherokee heritage and the trail of tears to her sons. The Jewish parents who had not yet fully discussed their own family history as other than a funny story. The extremely light skinned South African black family with the white german son in law who were really not sure how they wanted to hear American white kids representing their history.

          I have a lot of admiration for the teachers at my kids school but it was a hell of a few years going from the genocide of Native Americans through the Middle Passage up to the Holocaust and the Japanese Internment camps.

          • I don’t understand what you meant by this then?

            I’d like to applaud your observation about the absurdity of teachind dystopian literature to middle schoolers. Its just an awful thing to do to them.

            Are you specifically addressing age-inappropriate dystopian novels and/or teaching?

            Because beyond saying spare the little kiddies the really graphic stuff, I’m not sure how you decide this lesson is too much but that is OK and turn out educated students at high school’s end.

            • I’d also add that I grew up during a time when nuclear war seemed inevitable. (Remember St. Ron’s little joke about bombing the USSR?)

              So maybe we were just harder to rattle than the kids today who don’t have to walk 10 miles through the snow in July just to get beaten by a teacher.

            • i seem to be pissing you off. My middle schoolers did read about Utopias, and also read dystopias, as part of their general historical and literature curriculum as described above. We had extended discussions about all these things including the US history of genocide, slavery, and generalized racism up to and including Jim Crow, the Civil Rights Movement, and the current state of affairs. I don’t get why you think I’ve suddenly become a person who wants to shield kids from historical and political realities? But I generally find that it can be hard to teach this stuff to kids in groups–that some kids are hugely emotionally affected by it and that others become slightly numb, giddy, dismissive, and reactionary in response to feeling like they are having some shit forced on them. That doesn’t mean that schools should give up teaching this stuff–just that its hard.

            • Also: middle schoolers are not high schoolers. What caused sleepless nights and extreme anxiety in my 11 year old doesn’t turn a hair in the 14 year old.

              • I reviewed the threadlet and I think where I may have caused things to derail was in appearing to agree with ralph’s otherwise good post–he was talking about sophmores in highschool but I was talking about kids ages 11-13. I don’t think anything literary or historical should be off limits to kids of any age. But I think that some things take some serious teaching and not every kid or every teacher is up to the challenge. I have two highschoolers right now, one in ninth grade and one in 12th. I would expect them to be able to handle dystopias and modern politics with aplomb–but then they’ve both already been exposed to some pretty depressing stuff.

              • I’m not sure where you’re getting the pissed off vibe. I never thought of myself as being ambiguous about being pissed.

                I don’t get why you think I’ve suddenly become a person who wants to shield kids from historical and political realities?

                If I did, I wouldn’t keep asking you to clarify. But when you say:

                Its just an awful thing to do to them.

                It reads to me like you’re specifically stating it is bad for the kids. Hence my questions about when it is appropriate.

                Your follow up comment:

                But I generally find that it can be hard to teach this stuff to kids in groups–that some kids are hugely emotionally affected by it and that others become slightly numb, giddy, dismissive, and reactionary in response to feeling like they are having some shit forced on them. That doesn’t mean that schools should give up teaching this stuff–just that its hard.

                Suggests you’re saying a) Individuals have unique responses to the same stimuli. (True, but in regards teaching, aside from making rough averages about age appropriateness, what else can you do?) b) Some kids need a time out from the hard stuff and don’t get it (An unfortunate by-product of teaching en masse.) and c) Teaching these topics is also hard on the adults (Good. It should be.) but it has to happen anyway. (Agreed.)

                Look, if you’re saying that a lesson plan that leaves the majority of students in a traumatized mental state is a bad lesson plan, I agree.

                But I think that where kids have problems will come from the teacher. So if you say “Yeah, 1984 is just the way its going to be, get used to it,” That ain’t teaching, that’s sadism. But if you say “Let’s evaluate this society and talk about whether we’d like to live in it (No) and why not (Blah blah).” That’s helping a brain come to grips with a scary thing and encouraging a little critical thinking along the way.

                • I’m saying what I’m saying because I had to stand by and hold the hands of both my daughters as they were marched through a very heavy curriculum–1984 and Brave New World wasn’t the half of it–and I watched the various kids in their very small class come to grips with this and the history curriculum and I don’t always think that teaching in groups is the best way to teach sensitive stuff. I’m not suggesting a home schooling alternative to protect my frail flowers and I’m not suggesting a home schooling alternative to help some of the other kids lose the defensive crouch. I’m just observing that this stuff is hard and takes a master teacher and even so some kids–presumably the ones Ralph was talking about upthread–may end up taking the wrong lesson from particular eras or dystopian accounts and just give up.

                  I don’t think this is particularly odd or controversial. Its hard to teach some stuff to young kids and even when you feel you have to do it the fallout can be painful for them.

      • Manta

        I should have known that Aimai would take the censorious argument and run with it.
        Which other non-uplifting books would you like to keep away from the innocent minds of sophomore students?

        More seriously, you are saying that great literature should e not taught to them because it may influence their political views.

        • delurking

          Aimai did say, “What is rebellious and educational when done by the child,” which does not suggest censorship to me — it suggests leaving the kids free to read (on their own) whatever texts they like.

          Since this is my educational approach in general, I mostly agree.

          OTOH, if we don’t teach dystopian lit in the high schools, what are we going to teach? (I’m thinking of my own high school English classes, where every year we read “Ransom of the Red Chief” and “Gunga Din” and Twain’s story about the frog.

          I mean, it was far from depressing. You could say that for it.

          • delurking

            Also, I’m not convinced that “Brave New World” is great literature. Or 1984, either. Both are classics, to be sure, but “Brave New World” is also misogynist and troublesome in other ways (the Noble Savage, the hatred of technology), and 1984 is hardly Orwell’s best work.

            Have them read Road to Wigan Pier or “Such, Such Were the Joys” if you want them reading Orwell.

            • Schadenboner

              Obligatory “Politics and the English Language” pimping (although we read that in our composition class not our lit classes).

            • Manta

              Here we disagree: but that’s besides the point.

              Aimai was not claiming that certain books are not that good: he/she was “only” saying that what gets taught should be chosen based not on whether is well-written, interesting (to students), important (in the context of literature), or similar criteria, but on how it may influence their views.

              (BTW, in which context is reading Brave New World rebellious?).

              • I didn’t actually say this:

                More seriously, you are saying that great literature should e not taught to them because it may influence their political views.

                But I think its an interesting misreading of what might have been an obscure point. I think that often when kids read the same book together, as tweens, they don’t give it the same deep read that they do on their own. There’s a ton of posturing and tough guyness and embarrassment and fear that comes from reading difficult or frightening books together in mixed race, mixed gender, mixed groups of all kinds. I think every kid should read a ton of stuff, not at all limited in any way–I certainly did. But I also think that “being taught” something can be a very passive way to read it. I found that some kids just became more cynical and depressed about the possibility of a future at all. Whereas when I read the same kinds of books on my own I experienced myself as finding out something important about the world that other people didn’t know. I guess my personal experience is that when you choose to read something difficult you absorb it and reflect on it more deeply and more positively than when you are forced to read it because older people think you should have read it.

                • Manta

                  “I guess my personal experience is that when you choose to read something difficult you absorb it and reflect on it more deeply and more positively than when you are forced to read it because older people think you should have read it.”

                  On that I agree: but then what should they read in class? One of the reason to go to school is to learn to read difficult stuff…

                • Manta

                  I now realize that there is a communication problem: what do you mean by “difficult” book?
                  For instance, I would rate Brave New World as a relatively easy book to read.

                • All the kids were way ahead of the curriculum, in some ways, reading The Hunger Games because they wanted to. It was pretty interesting hearing them realize, after they had done the units on Nazis and Communism and Camps reflecting on the ways real history and culture got embedded and used in something they had read as escapism. I think great teaching requires great teachers, and there are a lot out there. So we have to hope our children fall into their hands.

                • herr doktor bimler

                  when you choose to read something difficult you absorb it and reflect on it more deeply and more positively than when you are forced to read it

                  This explains how commenters upthread could allegedly read Julia Ioffe’s column and yet twist it into the counterfactual claim that the author was herself unvaccinated. They must have been forced to read it rather than do so out of choice.

                • I wasn’t really thinking about the famous dystopias, actually, so much as I was some of the gut wrenching horrors of the history curriculum which were linked with the dystopias. The reading/studying of Anne Frank or, in the case of my little 11 year old daughter, the intense study of Giorgio Perlasca was a pretty grim period in her life.

                  My daughter did an incredible study of Perlasca’s fascinating life and wrote and acted a small play about the night before he expects to be arrested and shot by the Nazis. That was all fantastic but reading his actual memoires and coming across his experience of Jewish girls her age trying to bribe him to help them by offering to have sex with him was–hard to explain and hard for her to hear.

                  Slavery, Holocaust, Genocide, War, Rape, Torture–these are not easy things for children to study or learn about. The more challenging and honest the curriculum the more chances that the “uplifting” story your child is assigned (Perlasca was a “resistor” in the language of the Curriculum) will have some horrors that the teacher forgot to warn you about. Thats all.

  • I may be repeating other people but two things to note if you’re worried about your health (and you should be):

    1. Vaccines aren’t forever because viruses do evolve. Part of what we’re seeing with whooping cough is people not being aware we need booster shots. People, especially those who are around little ones, should talk to their providers about a booster.

    2. It would be nice if we could assume everyone around us is vaccinated, but clearly we can’t. If you are of advanced years, if there is anything quirky about your immune system, talk to your provider about booster shots.

    (3. Shingles? It just ain’t for the older set anymore. My kid sis has friends in their late 20’s who are getting it. Everyone get your Shingles vax!)

    • Emily

      One of the benefits of family practice doctors over pediatricians is that you can all get your shots and they can bill insurance for all of them – parents and kids – at the same time. Our pediatrician will give flu shots to parents too, but you have to pay out of pocket because insurance will not reimburse a pediatrician for giving a shot to an adult non-patient. Though CVS can apparently do it no problem.

    • Yeah, I had shingles (man that sucks) a couple years ago (in my early 40s). When I told people what the scabs on my face were from (they all thought I’d crashed on my bike) I was absolutely amazed at the number of people that said “Oh, my husband/wife/brother/sister/etc. had that.” and they were all in my age cohort or younger. I’d only ever known one person with it, and they were in their 60s with a compromised immune system.

      I’ve (probably completely wrongly and unscientifically) wondered if that since there’s a vaccine for chicken pox now, those of us that have had the pox aren’t getting the immunity boost from occasionally being exposed to kids with it, so maybe our immunity wears off over time while it didn’t before.

      I need to see if the cost of the vaccine has gone down, it wasn’t included in my insurance coverage and was fucking expensive last time I checked.

      • (the other) Davis

        …and they were all in my age cohort or younger.

        I came down with shingles last year, and I’m in my mid-30s. It was a relatively mild case, I think, but it was still a miserable experience.

        I’ve (probably completely wrongly and unscientifically) wondered if that since there’s a vaccine for chicken pox now, those of us that have had the pox aren’t getting the immunity boost from occasionally being exposed to kids with it, so maybe our immunity wears off over time while it didn’t before.

        This is actually one of the hypotheses floating around to explain why younger folks are starting to come down with shingles.

  • Pakistani Jenny McCarthy

    I oppose vaccination because it’s part of a plot by the Americans to find Osama.

    • Katya

      You may be joking, but my husband works in a field related to international development, and those people were LIVID when those stories came out. Set back international vaccination campaigns by years.

  • DN

    Here in the Bay Area the pediatricians we’ve had gave very strong advice that any adults we expected to have in the house regularly should get a shot. Good thing, too, since I was sort of oblivious to the need to get a vaccine booster. All the family members we’ve asked were cooperative once they heard the explanation. Our child is two and it makes me mad people are allowed to opt out from keeping both their kids and others healthy. I also don’t understand why adults aren’t reminded as part of normal medical care to get useful vaccine boosters.

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