I got this email at 4:30pm yesterday from the mother of the boy we drive to school in the mornings:
Hi Monkey,So yeah, Carpooligan has been tested positive for whooping cough. Just thought you should know. Even the vaccine isn’t protecting kids at Gryffindor, so if the Goddess gets a mild cold and cough, I’d think about getting her tested.Carpooligan was partially vaccinated, by the way, but did not have the booster. I chose not to get it because I didn’t think it was effective against the strain that goes around…He’ll be back at functions Saturday and school on Monday, so no carpool buddy the next few days.Hope you’re all well!
The tone of this email infuriates me. “This isn’t a big deal! He was ‘sort of’ vaccinated, so it’s not my fault. Even the vaccine isn’t 100% effective.”
I want to break this down just to figure out why it makes me want to sue this woman for everything she’s got, then burn it all, and her along with it.
- “Carpooligan has been tested positive for whooping cough.” Two weeks ago, she could have sent me an email that said “Carpooligan has been exposed to whooping cough and he’s not vaccinated.” A week ago, she could have said “I think that cough Carpooligan has might be whooping cough.” But she waited until after he tested positive to say anything to anyone. The lack of concern for anyone else is staggering.
- “Even the vaccine isn’t protecting kids at Gryffindor…” As I said, there is a small population of parents who opted out of the vaccine, but no vaccine is 100% effective. The pertussis vaccine is more effective in children than in adults, but is still not at 100%. So, of the ~150 children at my kid’s school, roughly 5% aren’t vaccinated at all (so, about 8 kids), and another 3-6 will get it even if they were vaccinated. That’s 11-14 out of about 150. But that’s just the kids. Every one of those kids has parents, and many of them have siblings. Those people have jobs and friends and come into contact with thousands of people, so it’s not just about my kid having to miss school if she gets sick. It’s about spreading the disease along vectors you never thought about.
- “Carpooligan was partially vaccinated, by the way, but did not have the booster.” If he didn’t get the booster, he’s not protected. I don’t know what comfort she’s trying to offer with “partially vaccinated,” but maybe she’s just trying to tell me that she’s not a crazy antivaxxer. But if she’s not opting out on the grounds that vaccines are dangerous or against God’s will, why aren’t her kids vaccinated?
- “I chose not to get it because I didn’t think it was effective against the strain that goes around…” Aaaah! With her housewife medical degree, she decided two years ago (when her kid was in seventh grade and legally required to either have his vaccinations updated or provide an opt-out form) that the vaccine against pertussis, which has been shown to protect 98% of children who receive all their boosters, wasn’t the right one for the strain of pertussis that is currently being passed around. So, not only a medical hobbyist, but also a prognosticator. How about this: you chose not to get it because you have four children with four different schedules and signing an opt-out form is WAY easier than making an appointment and taking your kid to the doctor to get his shots updated? Because, having known this woman for 6 years now, I’d bet good money that her logic went “Taking my kid to the doctor is expensive and inconvenient, but signing a form is easy. I’ll do that!” It makes me wonder just how many of these opt-outs are really parents who can’t be bothered to just take their kid to the doctor. It makes me feel that schools should require more than just an easy signature on a form. They should require parents who choose to opt out to either provide a doctor’s note signed within the last week stating that their child has a medical condition that precludes vaccinations, or pay $10 and attend an hour-long lecture about vaccines and why they’re important. Something that would take about as long and cost about as much as just going to the doctor for the shot.
- “Hope you’re all well!” Fuck you. We’ve got whooping cough.
I’m not thrilled myself, but, apart from being sick, this is not my problem. This woman has to live with herself.
I’m not an anti-vaxxer, I’m a super-vaxxer. I actively ask my children’s pediatrician whether they need any vaccines. When she responds, “No, I think they’re good to go,” I shove my up-to-date vaccination cards in her face, and say, “Are you sure?” They have had every conceivable vaccine, except for the rare vaccines you need before you visit some other countries that you can’t easily get in this country. (I know where to get those vaccines if they need them.) Of course, six months after receiving his on-time booster for pertussis, my oldest kid came down with whooping cough. Rare, but it happens. The fucked up thing was that all of the anti-vaxxers used my kid’s case to justify their position. “Not the same thing, folks,” I said to anyone who would listen. No one listens, not anti-vaxxers. My idiotic sister is one of them, and her daughter had to be hospitalized with an oxygen tent when she came down with whooping coughat age three. It was touch and go for weeks. Was she sorry she didn’t get her vaccinated? Of course not because “it could have been so much worse.” What the hell? I do not understand these people.
I was intrigued by the article recently that said that conservatives and liberals are wired differently. Conservatives tend to see threats everywhere, liberals do not. So it makes sense to me that conservatives who weren’t around when polio and typhus and diptheria and whooping cough were killing people are now suspicious of the vaccines that keep those diseases at bay. But you can bet when one of their kids dies, the tune will change.