Open Thread: “Do you know that most people who have had small pox are immune to aids?”

I just had to memorialize that line for when future alien anthropologists are poking around the broken remnants of human civilization, trying to figure out how a global civilization of such potential all went to naught.

See, Janice D’Arcy at the Washington Post‘s parenting blog brought up the Indiana measles outbreak, which fortunately has not (so far) led to a nationwide crisis among Superbowl visitors, because enough of us are vaccinated (or, among us olds, measles survivors) for herd immunity to work. (Per PBS, “the first 13 individuals infected had all chosen not to be vaccinated.”) D’Arcy goes on to discuss a backlash among doctors who understand the consequences:

… Increasingly, surveys are finding that more and more doctors are refusing to treat patients who decline vaccinations.
A Wall Street Journal report last week cited several different surveys that revealed almost a third of doctors in Connecticut and a fifth of doctors in the Midwest dismiss patients who decline vaccinations…
It’s unclear if the trend is changing any minds. (Several reports on vaccine skeptic blogs called those doctors “brainwashed.”) It’s also unclear if refusing patients is the best answer. Does it hold parents more accountable or does it endanger vulnerable children?…

Naturally, the first few dozen comments drew all the usual outcry from the anti-vaxers: Autism! Big Pharma! Aluminum! Illegal immigrants! Freeeeeedom! — as well as a heartening pushback from members of the reality-based community. But commentor MacGyver1rjq104’s claim that “smallpox makes people immune to AIDS” was both new to me and so blithely, stunningly packed full of new and improved levels of cluelessness that I really had to share it with you all. Say what you will about smallpox, at least it’s an ethos all-natural, as god intended!

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154 replies
  1. 1
    Baud says:

    But commentor MacGyver1rjq104’s claim that “smallpox makes people immune to AIDS”

    To be fair, if anyone can make an AIDS vaccine out of smallpox, it’s MacGyver.

  2. 2
    cathyx says:

    Are we talking small pox or chicken pox?

  3. 3
    Xecky Gilchrist says:

    Most people who have had smallpox – not a smallpox vaccination, but smallpox – have been dead for decades, so AIDS is pretty much moot to them.

  4. 4

    … Increasingly, surveys are finding that more and more doctors are refusing to treat patients who decline vaccinations.

    Thanks for identifying the next battleground in conservatives’ war against science, logic and reason. How long before Red State Republican legislators float bills allowing school districts to opt out of vaccinations?

  5. 5


    To be fair, if anyone can make an AIDS vaccine out of smallpox, it’s MacGyver.

    {{ applause }}

  6. 6
    dmsilev says:

    @Baud: He just needs a really small roll of duct tape.

  7. 7
    Joseph Nobles says:

    I went to look up the mortality rate of smallpox at Wikipedia, and beheld the first picture of a victim there. Anyone slandering the eradication of that disease ought to be shot.

  8. 8
    PurpleGirl says:

    I had both forms of measles when I was a kid. I remember getting the polio vaccines in elementary school. Unfortunately, my mother didn’t keep track of my various vaccinations, so I’m only sure about having had the measles and getting the polio vaccine.

    I was glad to have had the polio shots and the sugar cube form, when in college I met a guy whose parents hadn’t let him be vaccinated and, sure enough, he had gotten polio. He was lucky because the doctors caught it in time that it wasn’t very severe; but still he had it and it had effected how he walked.

  9. 9
    Nutella says:

    @Southern Beale:

    I expect they’ll try to pass reverse-conscience clauses to force doctors to treat unvaccinated people.

  10. 10
    Ohio Mom says:

    When we lived in another city in Ohio, I recommended our fabulous pediatrician, who totally understood autism, who was never in a rush, who gave unerringly sage advice, to a number of other families who had kids on the spectrum. Several of them turned out to be anti-vaccinationers and I saw a new side to our doctor: he sent them immediately on their way. Until then, I did not know that doctors sometimes “fired” patients.

  11. 11
    Yevgraf says:

    To hell with all that. I’m playing with this iPad I just got, and it’s the shit.

    Damn, it does everything.

  12. 12
    kdaug says:

    “Do you know that most people who have had small pox are immune to aids?”

    So are most people who got the bubonic plague.

  13. 13
    General Stuck (Bravo Nope Zero) says:

    True and weird story. Last time I was vaccinated for smallpox was entering the army. That was in 1972, and about ten years ago, the funny looking scar from that got all inflamed for no apparent reason, and when the inflammation went away, so did any sign of the smallpox vac scar. I have no idea what that means, if anything.

  14. 14
    dmsilev says:

    @Xecky Gilchrist: Wiki says that the last naturally-occurring case was in 1977, followed by a death in a medical lab in 1978. Chances are, there are a reasonable number of smallpox survivors still around, though what if anything that has to do with AIDS is another question entirely.

  15. 15
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Nutella: As a lawyer, I have had no problem “firing” who consistently won’t take my advice. I tell them that it is clear that they do not trust my legal judgment and it would be unfair for me to continue to charge them for advice that they do not value.

  16. 16
    Xecky Gilchrist says:

    @dmsilev: I hadn’t realized that there were any cases that recent. Thanks! But I still reckon *most* cases happened a long time ago.

  17. 17
    Richard says:

    I really despise Oprah Winfrey for letting Jenny McCarthy push that autism shit on her show. I think that was the #1 venue for propagating the lie.

  18. 18
    DougJarvus Green-Ellis says:



  19. 19
    CA Doc says:

    The reason behind dismissing peds patients whose parents refuse to have them vaccinated is the significant risk of a kid with one of these vaccine preventable diseases sitting in your waiting room and exposing other kids and pregnant women. It is a tough question, because it isn’t the child’s fault they have selfish parents who believe Jenny McCarthy over science

  20. 20
    Origuy says:

    There is a genetic mutation, designated CCR5-Δ32, that appears to confer immunity to HIV. There was some work done that indicated that areas of Eurasia that were severely affected by the Black Plague had relatively high occurrence of this mutation. The hypothesis was that the survivors of the plague had this mutation, which also gave some immunity to it. I haven’t found any recent work, but apparently this meme has evolved into smallpox survivors.

  21. 21
    DougJarvus Green-Ellis says:

    @General Stuck (Bravo Nope Zero):

    It means you can have all the unprotected sex you want now, big guy.

  22. 22
    J.W. Hamner says:

    It’s also unclear if refusing patients is the best answer.

    Just funneling more patients to Dr. Nick.

  23. 23


    Yes, that too. And this will not be viewed as ironic or contradictory in any way.

    That shall be amazing.

  24. 24
  25. 25
    Choicelady says:

    @Xecky Gilchrist: You kow – you are probably onto something REALLY important about this claim! Hard to infect the dead.

  26. 26
    kdaug says:

    @Ohio Mom: Dr. Darwin’s Law.

  27. 27

    I blame the fluoridated water.

  28. 28
    ExurbanMom says:

    @Richard: @Richard: Yup. Oprah supported all sorts of junk science, but her furthering of the Jenny McCarthy anti-vax shit is my reason number one for never watching that woman again.

    Someone runs a website, the Jenny McCarthy Body Count, that totals the number of people who’ve died due to anti-vaccination movement. It is currently up to 868 deaths.

  29. 29
    Mnemosyne says:

    Yes, but I came down with the flu even though I got the flu vaccine, so therefore vaccines are a scam! Proof!

    (Actually, I probably got it because several of my co-workers have those ambulatory germ-warfare factories called “toddlers” that are busy spreading viruses to all and sundry, but I’m still annoyed.)

  30. 30
    General Stuck (Bravo Nope Zero) says:

    @DougJarvus Green-Ellis:

    It means you can have all the unprotected sex you want now, big guy.

    I’ll put an ad in the paper tomorrow.

  31. 31
    Belafon (formerly anonevent) says:

    @Nutella: And then the doctors can claim it violates their religious beliefs.

  32. 32
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Mnemosyne: I have a rock that repels flu viruses. I haven’t had the flu since I have had the rock.

  33. 33

    @Belafon (formerly anonevent):

    And then the doctors can claim it violates their religious beliefs.

    It would certainly violate the Hypocratic Oath! Jesus, I need a scorecard at this point.

  34. 34
    Calming Influence says:

    MacGyver1rjq104 was on the right track, but just got it backwards: If you’ve ever had AIDS, you not going to need to worry about smallpox.

    Also as well: what percentage of healthy young anti-vaccinators will turn down an effective AIDS vaccine when it is developed?

  35. 35
    Sock Puppet of the Great Satan says:

    There was a 2010 Lab study which suggested that people vaccinated against smallpox could have been more resistant to HIV:

    Details here.

    The rise of HIV coincided with the decline of mass smallpox vaccination (and smallpox vaccine has a small but real risk of complications), and smallpox and HIV both use the CCR5 protein as a receptor, so the results are intriguing.

    But somehow, in the anti-vaxxer universe, “smallpox vaccination might have had benefits against HIV”, gets twisted into an argument against vaccination. There’s no reasoning with these folks.

  36. 36
    MariedeGournay says:

    Small pox was an ancient affliction that ravaged humanity since we started to build cities. It was the scourge of the gods. Ending that plague is an monument of what glorious things we as a species can do. To cast foolish, baseless aspersions on the very tools we used to cure that disease and all like it is frankly a sin.

  37. 37
    Calming Influence says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: Give me that rock.

  38. 38
    Belafon (formerly anonevent) says:

    @Mnemosyne: The vaccine makers guess at what the 4 most probable versions of the flu virus will be, and make a vaccine against those. You just found a special one. I’ve been in that boat before.

  39. 39
    Evolving Deep Southerner says:

    @General Stuck (Bravo Nope Zero): The stigmata?

  40. 40
    General Stuck (Bravo Nope Zero) says:


    You’ve been on a comic tear recently. And frankly, I’m getting a little jealous.

  41. 41
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Calming Influence: Give?

  42. 42
    chopper says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    omnes, I want to buy your rock.

  43. 43
    Evolving Deep Southerner says:

    @General Stuck (Bravo Nope Zero): Was “Like A Prayer” by Madonna playing in the background?

  44. 44
    pragmatism says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: I’d like to purchase your rock.

  45. 45
    Calming Influence says:

    I’m serious, Dude; hand over the fucking rock.

  46. 46
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @chopper: Now we’re talking.

  47. 47
    efgoldman says:

    My brother and I, born too soon to have received the vaccines, each had all three diseases (measles, mumps, chicken pox) between the ages of five and nine, as did most of our contemporaries.
    We survived without consequences, and were too young to know whether other kids did the same.
    Meanwhile, because we went overseas at a young age in he early 50s, we got a full panel of all the vaccines then available (DPT,Typhoid, Typhus, Cholera, etc).
    There ought to be some way to charge anti-vaxx parents wth something in real life as on LawnOrder.

  48. 48
    Baud says:

    @General Stuck (Bravo Nope Zero):

    And frankly, I’m getting a little jealous.

    Dude, you’re the one who now gets to have all the unprotected sex you want…

  49. 49
    Calming Influence says:

    In return, I’ll give you a different rock. It’s better than your rock. Trust me.

  50. 50
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    OO, I want to buy your rock.

    (Sorry, looked for the accompanying clip but couldn’t find it.)

  51. 51


    Ending that plague is an monument of what glorious things we as a species can do.

    Yes but FREEDOM! And … well … FREEDOM!

  52. 52
    jrg says:

    Since it’s an open thread… The whole “neutrinos can be faster than light” thing is bunk.

  53. 53
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Calming Influence: I like my rock. I even named it. It is called Rock.

    @Baud: Yeah, encourage him to go out and get pregnant….

  54. 54

    And since it’s an open thread … the way to make all of this bullshit go away? Just say the magic word: VAGINA!

  55. 55
    Calming Influence says:

    @jrg: Who gives a fuck about neutrinos when Omnes Omnibus is walking around with a magic rock?!?

  56. 56
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Sock Puppet of the Great Satan:

    There was a 2010 Lab study which suggested that people vaccinated against smallpox could have been more resistant to HIV.

    So I could have been whoring around all through the 80s? Damn it!

    Though unless the theory was that gay men in the US somehow escaped smallpox vaccination, it seems like a fairly specious study. I was born in 1969 and was vaccinated (and have the scar to show for it) so it seems unlikely that a large group of men who were older than I was were not vaccinated.

  57. 57
    Calming Influence says:

    @Southern Beale: I can’t make the same case about vaginas.

  58. 58
    kdaug says:

    Hold on, folks.

    Omnes Omnibus may have “a rock”, but mine is vastly superior.

    Shiny, glistening – it is a sight to behold.

    You don’t want last year’s model, do you?

  59. 59
    Evolving Deep Southerner says:

    @Southern Beale: OK, here goes:


    OK, the bullshit is all still here. What did I do wrong?

  60. 60
    Baud says:

    @Southern Beale:

    I like “Global Vagina Warming.”

  61. 61
    Nutella says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    Is it a Pet Rock(tm)?

  62. 62
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Southern Beale: If someone posts a link to a vagina dentata picture, I will not be pleased.

  63. 63
    General Stuck (Bravo Nope Zero) says:


    OO, I want to buy your rock.

    He’s a lawyer, so you better figure on spending a bundle. Luckily, I happen to have some on sale.

  64. 64
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Nutella: No, it is simply Rock.

  65. 65
    Calming Influence says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: Yeah, well my rock is named Rock Stoneson III. His ancestors came over on the Mayflower as ballast.

  66. 66
    Jager says:

    @Richard: Dr. Jenny McCarthy graduated from the Hugh M. Hefner School of Medicine, as I recall she specialized in gerontology rather than immunology.

  67. 67
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Calming Influence: LOL. Mine is native. Of course, that is why it isn’t much help against small pox.

  68. 68
    SiubhanDuinne says:


    Oh yay! I love my iPad.

  69. 69
    Suffern ACE says:

    As much as I want to get after Oprah, I can’t really think she’s that influential. There were 26,000 measles cases in Europe last year compared to 200 in the US. I don’t mean to get all American exceptional Fuck Yeah, but it would seem that we still do a much better job vaccinating our kids than those ferners, who don’t have Jenny on TV box.

  70. 70
    Jager says:

    @General Stuck (Bravo Nope Zero): Weird shit happens, I had a plantar wart on my right foot, had it removed, it came right back. A couple of months later I was hammered by the flu and like magic my damn plantar wart was gone. Doc said “wow!”

  71. 71
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Suffern ACE: Where in Europe? France and Germany? Or Bulgaria and Moldova?

  72. 72
    de stijl says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    Can you smell what the Rock is cooking?

  73. 73
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    “Do you know that most people who have had small pox are immune to aids?”

    No, but hum a few bars and I’ll fake it.

    [Badabum, veal, waitress, all week, tip, try]

  74. 74
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @SiubhanDuinne: It is obviously silly night here at Balloon Juice.

    @de stijl: Rock, not the Rock. Rock is particular.

  75. 75
    YellowJournalism says:

    Omnes, never watch the movie “Teeth.”

  76. 76
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @YellowJournalism: Noted.

  77. 77
    Suffern ACE says:

    @omes- all europe.7,000 in France alone.

  78. 78
    Jay S says:

    @Southern Beale:

    How long before Red State Republican legislators float bills allowing school districts to opt out of vaccinations?

    This is not a red state / blue state thing. Here in Washington state one of the most liberal areas has one of the highest rate of vaccine refuse-nix in the nation. We also have a very liberal opt out policy, although it just got a little tighter.

  79. 79
    de stijl says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    Pftt… Rules. I’m a rock, I don’t care for rules.

  80. 80
    gnomedad says:


    The whole “neutrinos can be faster than light” thing is bunk solved.

    Inappropriate description. The researchers were, in essence, saying “This is whack. We’ve gone over everything but can’t figure out what we did wrong. Help!” It would have been unethical to bury their findings. They are likely mildly embarrassed but relieved. In total contrast with anti-vaccine nutters, climate change deniers …

  81. 81
    Ruckus says:

    I was born in 1969 and was vaccinated (and have the scar to show for it) so it seems unlikely that a large group of men who were older than I was were not vaccinated.

    I was born a few(OK quite a few)years earlier like efgoldman and had all the childhood diseases and a couple rare things but I still got the smallpox vax and remember getting the polio sugar cubes and later a polio shot. So if the HIV/smallpox thing was true there just should not have been that many HIV victims. And we know that isn’t true.
    Isn’t stupidity grand?
    One doesn’t even have to be highly trained in science to at least ask questions, observe and think.

  82. 82
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Jay S:

    California also has a very liberal opt-out policy and, not surprisingly, has the epidemics to go with it.

  83. 83
    Calming Influence says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: Damn! Of course as a bleeding heart commie tree-hugging secret Moooslum liberal extremist, I must bow to your rock’s nativeness. Curse you Omnes Omnibus, owner of Native Rock.

    (By the way, how does it feel to OWN a native? BWAhhaaahhahh! Busted!)

  84. 84
    CaseyL says:

    I’ve had the Mark of the Smallpox Vaccine on my thigh for as long as I can remember; so long I forgot about the thing until I was in a swimsuit somewhere, and somebody asked what the round scar was. I actually said, “Huh?,” then looked down at it and did an honest-to-god facepalm at myself.

    Anti-vaxers: Proof that anti-science idiotarianism is not confined to RW creationists. Oy.

    On a brighter note, for any Trekkies hereabouts, someone has posted a couple green-screen shots from the new Trek movie, finallyfilmingthankFSM. Here is where they are:

    (Hoping the linky thing works; it never seems to, for me)

    Cumberbatch is said to be wearing a black Starfleet uniform under a silver coat. I got very excited, thinking the next movie might bring back Mirror!Trek, but a commenter reminded us that cadets at Starfleet Academy wear black.

    On the other hand, it seems unlikely that a Starfleet Academy cadet would make a credible villain, so maybe it will be a Mirror!Trek after all. Which would be pretty damn cool.

    ETA: Linky thing continues to not work for me. Here’s the link in all its naked glory:

  85. 85
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @de stijl: Yeah, well, I am an island.

  86. 86
    Ruckus says:

    Seconded, you are on a roll

  87. 87
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    @Southern Beale:

    Yes, Vagina, there is a sanity clause.

  88. 88
  89. 89
    Mnemosyne says:


    We had a college intern in our office who was quite a bit younger than me (not that I was old enough to be her mother or anything, no, of course not, I’m not that old …) who was intrigued by my smallpox vaccination scar because she’d never seen one.

    Though given the history of Asian and Eastern European countries downplaying and hiding their AIDS statistics, that’s another reason I would give for being skeptical of a study that specifies people in Eurasia as being more immune to AIDS even if the supposed cause is bubonic plague and not smallpox.

  90. 90
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Gin & Tonic: Yep. It does indeed.

  91. 91
    General Stuck (Bravo Nope Zero) says:


    and like magic my damn plantar wart was gone. Doc said “wow!”

    Pretty much what my doc said as well

  92. 92
    Soonergrunt says:

    @General Stuck (Bravo Nope Zero): Small Pox vaccinations can wane. If you were in the Army today, you’d get the Small Pox vax before deployment. We all did before we went to the middle east.

  93. 93
    Steeplejack says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    You can not watch it at 10:00 p.m. EST next Thursday on IFC.

  94. 94
    Jay S says:

    Here’s a [ETA link]map of the exemption rates in Washington. There doesn’t seem to be a correlation between politics and exemptions. The lowest exemption rates are actually in fairly conservative areas, the highest are in both conservative and liberal areas. We had a pretty high rate of whooping cough here last year.

  95. 95
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Steeplejack: That is when I watch Archer.

  96. 96
  97. 97
    Warren Terra says:


    Since it’s an open thread… The whole “neutrinos can be faster than light” thing is bunk.

    You’re just learning about this now? I learned weeks ago, in a special message sent by neutrino!

    It is funny that all they had to do to fix the error was unplug the machine and plug it back in again. Seems to me, they need to watch the IT crowd more

  98. 98
    piratedan says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: strange, I’ve always kinda considered you to be more of an isthmus

  99. 99
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Jay S:

    It’s pretty similar in California — the higher income areas are more likely to not vaccinate, because they’re more likely to believe the half-truths that sound oh-so-“scientific.” It’s maddening.

  100. 100
    Jay S says:

    @Warren Terra: Power on reset is a powerful problem solver.

  101. 101
    Steeplejack says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    Well, that works out, then, because you will not be watching Teeth. Although I note that they rerun Archer at 11:00 and later through the night. Plus: DVR.

    Archer is frustrating me. When it is good it is awesome, but it feels like lately they spend too much time idling on their stock jokes. Maybe I just want every week to be like “Terms of Enrampagement.”

  102. 102
    Bnut says:

    I thought i felt shitty after the smallpox vaccine, and then I got to take the rounds for anthrax. FML. Saddamn, Y U no use anthrax so it was justified? /

  103. 103
    calliope jane says:

    @CaseyL @83 Benedict Cumberbatch is in the new Star Trek?! Damn. Wow, okay, new movie needs to get here very, very soon.

  104. 104
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Steeplejack: I have a thing for 60s spy movies and TV shows, so Archer is right up my alley. It can be hit or miss, but even the miss episodes are mildly amusing and the hits are wow.

    @calliope jane: Seriously, people have a thing for him?

  105. 105
    pseudonymous in nc says:

    I was having a conversation today about why it is that the concept of “public health” — vaccinations, public mental health, etc. — is so often denigrated in the US. My guess is that it’s bound up with the idea that healthcare that’s not paid for on an individual basis, whether self-pay or via insurance, is somehow a Bad Thing, and for Those People and losers. The idea that there are broad social and economic benefits in such things has very little traction.

  106. 106
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @pseudonymous in nc:

    The idea that there are broad social and economic benefits in such things has very little traction.

    Unfortunately, that is the case with many public goods.

  107. 107
    Suffern ACE says:

    @Mnemosyne: Yep. Them there eropeens probably don’t have the same intensity of forces actively trying to make stupid citizens believe stupid things. Yet, oh look, a Dr. in England produced a study on autism rates and in some places in the UK the immunization rate has fallen to 50%.

    Makes me wonder what class of people buy thinning cream to get rid of cellulite because it is from France.

  108. 108
    PurpleGirl says:


    Back when the first Star Trek film was in the works, the trekkies who were waiting and waiting for it and had worked to get the movie made began saying, each time another rumor started that the film was nigh “I’ll believe it when I’m in the theater watching it.”

  109. 109
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Suffern ACE:

    I wouldn’t give Europeans a whole lot more credit than Americans. Brits went on a rampage about pedophiles a few years ago and burned down pediatricians’ offices (because paedophile and paediatrician look so much alike, apparently). The Germans still think homeopathy works.

    Belief in medical quackery is not restricted to any one country, though it does seem to be more likely to fool middle-class and upper-class people who aren’t quite as smart as they think they are.

  110. 110
    Jay S says:

    @pseudonymous in nc:
    Here’s an attempt to push back at least in part. The Mesa county Colorado story is relevant to treating the uninsured to improve the economics for everyone.

  111. 111
    dr. luba says:

    @Mnemosyne: I know many fairly young people in Ukraine with vaccination scars. I think the USSR continued to vaccinate long after we stopped in the USA.

    Countries with the highest rates of AIDS in Europe? Ukraine and Russia.

  112. 112
    Steeplejack says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    [. . .] but even the miss episodes are mildly amusing and the hits are wow.

    Yeah, true that. And it constantly reminds me how perfectly matched voice talent can carry a show through the troughs (cf. The Venture Bros.).

  113. 113
    Percysowner says:

    I’m old enough that I had both kinds of measles and chickenpox. I missed out on mumps. I got vaccinated for DPT, smallpox and got both types of polio vaccine. I remember Sabin Oral Sunday where my entire family all stood in line and took the sugar cube. Thanks to my bout with chickenpox I will get the Shingles vaccine as soon as I turn 60. I was so happy my daughter was vaccinated. I would have hated for her to go through measles or mumps. She missed the chickenpox vaccine by a few years and suffered through that, so some day she will need the Shingles vaccine as well.

    I totally back doctors who won’t take on patients that don’t vaccinate. Why should they subject the rest of their patients to the possibility of contracting a disease that can KILL, just to satisfy an anti-vax parent?

  114. 114
    Suffern ACE says:

    @Mnemosyne: Brits went on a rampage about pedophiles a few years ago and burned down pediatricians’ offices (because paedophile and paediatrician look so much alike, apparently)

    Were it true. Well based on the press magnification, it seems that the willingness of the press to distort stories until they are no longer true is an Anglo Saxon disease, probably related to countries where News Corps is a major player. We’ll call the active dumbing down of the middle class (who then blame the dumb on the working class) the “Rupert Syndrome.” Does he own German Newspapers?

  115. 115
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Suffern ACE:

    Okay, I’m very confused about what you’re trying to argue here. Is it that Europeans are smarter than Americans though their rates of vaccination are even lower than ours?

    I didn’t think it was arguable that people all over the world fall for medical quackery, not just Americans, but apparently it is.

  116. 116
    General Stuck (Bravo Nope Zero) says:

    From the Moonie times

    Mr. Santorum’s larger point is that Mr. Obama and his liberal allies have embraced radical environmentalism – a form of neo-paganism.

    So now Obama isn’t a sekrit Muslim anymore. He is a neo pagan. Being Reformed Druid, this makes my heart smile, but I don’t think it’s true. Obama’s real religion is being a bee in the wingnut bonnet, a bat in their belfry, a black fly in their Chardonnay. Four more years and these silly motherfuckers will be carrying holy water with garlic cloves around their necks, with a backward drawn B tattooed on their foreheads. Praying to Zeus to free them from being chased around by imaginary unicorns.

    exemplified by the hoax of man-made global warming – has degenerated into a pseudo-religion. Environmentalists worship Gaia, Mother Earth, turning it into a secular goddess. Hence, they believe industrial civilization must be subordinated to a green soc ialist agenda.

    That’s Earthmother to you, Mr. Wingnut.

  117. 117
    pseudonymous in nc says:

    You all know the ‘Paedogeddon’ episode of Brass Eye, right?

    There are lots of tabloids in the UK that are very good at cultivating the mob — not just the redtops with the tits and trivia, but the middle-market ones like the Daily Mail that are now polluting the internets. The Mail was a very big pusher of the Wakefield/autism thing, which fits with their peddling of woo in other areas.

  118. 118
    BonnyAnne says:

    @Jay S:

    yes we did, and it killed a 3 week old baby at a hospital where some of my friends work. (Babies don’t get their first TDAP shot until 2 months.) NICU nurses are a pretty tough bunch, but there were some tremendously bad feelings towards the anti-vaxxers after that.

  119. 119
    pseudonymous in nc says:


    I didn’t think it was arguable that people all over the world fall for medical quackery, not just Americans, but apparently it is.

    I think the US is a more fertile ground for a particular strain of quackery, based upon the high cost threshold for “official” medicine. So you get all of the supplement bullshit which is pretty much unregulated, and the extremely sophisticated “What Your Doctor Isn’t Telling You” patter about how doctors and Big Pharma are ripping you off (sort of true) so buy our snake oil instead!

    There’s another kind of quackery that pushes against institutionalised public health, and taps into the special-snowflake crowd.

    @dr. luba: T.R. Reid has done some really smart stuff over the past few years. Smart, because he’s taken care to focus on foreign systems that aren’t the usual whipping boys in US politics, and because he has a compelling metanarrative about the practices that work well across very different cultures and economic systems.

  120. 120
    Mnemosyne says:

    @pseudonymous in nc:

    There’s another kind of quackery that pushes against institutionalised public health, and taps into the special-snowflake crowd.

    I couldn’t find the specific story, but I remember a quote in an LA Times story from some upper-class woman in San Diego (of course) who didn’t think it was her responsibility to participate in herd immunity by getting her children vaccinated. If someone else’s kid died because her unvaccinated kid infected them, too bad.

    I really, really hope one of that asshole’s kids landed in the hospital with a preventable disease that she never vaccinated them for, but I’m sure it would be everyone else’s fault if that happened, never hers.

  121. 121
    Jay S says:

    @BonnyAnne: Mid last year I finally got a tetanus booster after previous shortages at the time I had asked about it. I was told I was getting a “special” version. When I asked what was special, I was told that they were adding pertussis to the immunizations for adults since the opt out rate was so high for children. Adults can help by making sure they are up to date in their vaccinations. Whooping cough kills, do what you can to stop it.

  122. 122

    New Rule: if you write a pretend speech for a candidate, your work will never be published anywhere again-

    Seriously, this has got to stop. It’s an annoying rhetorical tactic…

  123. 123
    Gex says:

    @Ruckus: No, but one should have received some training (implicit maybe) on how to think. Sadly, that’s not high on the educational system’s or a lot of parent’s list of things to do.

  124. 124
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Gex: It was in mine, but I was lucky.

  125. 125
    Gex says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: That’s crucial. So few people stumble upon it on their own. And, if I may, I have often enjoyed the electronic recordings of your thoughts on this here blog thing.

  126. 126
    BonnyAnne says:

    @Jay S:

    YAY. IIRC they don’t know how long the Pertussis vaccine lasts, and I love that they’re throwing that into the tetanus booster. The more people don’t get whooping cough, the smaller the odds that some poor infant does. Tragedies are always worse when they’re preventable.

  127. 127
    scav says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: There certainly are people with a serious thing for Cumberbatch, especially those with a weakness for voices. His reading of Cassanova should have a large flashing warning for those sub-populations — they’re even listening to his voice-over ads for Jaguars. It should serve as a point of hope for men with odd chins everywhere. Guy’s got presence. I’ve been enjoying his roles so far, it’ll be interesting to see if he can keep it up. Too often people’s early careers are more interesting than their later careers.

  128. 128
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Gex: Thank you. Really. One of the things I like about this place is the chance to hear voices that I don’t normally come across – like that of a gay woman of Asian extraction. It helps keep me from being in a white, middle/upper-middle class bubble. Years ago, I got a fundraising letter from the Martina Navratilova Fund that that said “Aren’t you tired of everything being run by straight, white, heterosexual, Christian, college educated men?” Shit, that’s more or less me. It helps to get other perspectives. So thank you for that too.

  129. 129
    General Stuck (Bravo Nope Zero) says:

    Koch sucking whiners

  130. 130
    J.W. Hamner says:

    Bahn Meatloaf

    Recipe is from Bon Appetit, and I’m really really pleased with it… and I’m someone who hasn’t had meatloaf since they were 8.

  131. 131
  132. 132
    Ruckus says:

    @General Stuck (Bravo Nope Zero):
    They really are gigantic assholes. Grand Canyon sized assholes. No, Death Star sized assholes.

  133. 133
    Mnemosyne says:


    I think they’ve been putting it into the tetanus booster for a while now. I got one last year when I gashed my thumb open with a potato peeler on St. Patrick’s Day. (And I hadn’t had a drop to drink, I swear! I was rushing to get everything into the crockpot before work.)

    I apparently had whooping cough when I was six weeks old, but obviously I pulled through since I’m posting here. :-)

  134. 134
    Gex says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: Awww. This is a pretty neat place.

    ETA: Also, feel free to use my shorthand: gaysian. Or gaytheist. I can’t figure out how to get all three into one word.

  135. 135
    Omnes Omnibus says:


    Also, feel free to use my shorthand: gaysian. Or gaytheist. I can’t figure out how to get all three into one word.

    I think it might be like rhyming with orange.

  136. 136
    hamletta says:

    @Percysowner: I’d go get the Shingles vaccine right now, if I were you. I got it a few years ago at the tender age of 45, and thought I was gonna die.

    Of course, it happened over Labor Day Weekend, too.

  137. 137
    Lower Podunk says:

    @J.W. Hamner: Oh, that looks good. I grew daikon radishes last fall specifically to use for a canned version of bahn mi (10 half pints) and have been on the lookout for an actual recipe to use them with vs. just a relish.

  138. 138
    MikeJ says:

    @pseudonymous in nc: Pssst. I’ve got some cake.

  139. 139
    Yutsano says:

    @MikeJ: The cake is a lie dude.

  140. 140
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Yutsano: Pie?

  141. 141
    Yutsano says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: Pie is eternal, and proof that the FSM loves us and wants us to be happy.

    No wait that’s beer. Oh well. They still both come from wheat.

  142. 142
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Yutsano: I am perfectly fine with both or either.

  143. 143
    Yutsano says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: I don’t know if it’s this kitchen or what, but I’ve been getting a bunch of my cooking bugaboos out of my system. I’m daring to get brave enough for pie crust next.

  144. 144
    Mnemosyne says:

    The trick with pie crust is to keep the fat (butter, shortening, or a combo) very, very cold. And then refrigerate it immediately after mixing to cool it down before rolling it out.

    And my last comment before passing out is that Robitussin Night rules, NyQuil drools.

  145. 145
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Yutsano: Lard. My grandmother who is unparalleled in pie making – being of pure New England Puritan pie-making ancestry and the maker of the the best god-damned pies I have ever eaten – insists on lard.

  146. 146
    Little Boots says:

    would you bastards just come upstairs already?

  147. 147
    Cermet says:

    @Jay S: To both continue the post and add a few points – my daughter got/gets every possible vaccination. There is no way anyone (except immune issues) should be allowed to opt out – period. This is one of the greatest health aids possible. Mindless, stupid and not only dangerous to themselves but to all of us. This is the same as saying one can opt out on taxes or laws against stealing, or child abuse (hey, not vaccinating a child is a form of child abuse!) – beyond stupid (opting out on vaccines, not taxes …)

  148. 148
    HeartlandLiberal says:

    I still remember that we were living in Germany at the time of one of the last documented small pox cases at the tail end of the eradication program. This was in the early 70’s, I think the last case was in Africa somewhere around 1977.

    We had of course dutifully renewed our vaccinations and those of our small child before leaving the USA for our stay abroad.

    I remember the news that was blazoned across the top of the front pages of the newspapers, with banner headlines, and the photos of the health care workers wearing what were essentially full cover hazmat suits as they collected and transported the victim to isolation at a special hospital.

    I also remember as a child receiving the very first round of the polio vaccine at the public health clinic set up to ensure that all American children received it.

    Ah, yes, those were the carefree days before vaccination for such diseases was available.

    I feel so bad for not having had a very high chance of dying young from polio and smallpox. Heck, I really miss the old days of colonial America, when infant and child mortality rates from childhood and common infectious diseases insured a mortality rate running well over 50 percent.

    In fact, we can thank sanitation, antibiotics and vaccination for the staggering increase in human population of the past few centuries. Before that, high death rates balanced out birth rates, and helped keep population levels fairly stable or growing only slowly.

    I am also rather partial to and appreciative of antibiotics, since penicillin prevented my death at age five from scarlet fever. But that is another story, although obviously related.

    If I were a practicing physician, I would join with those who simply refuse to treat patients who refuse to have their children vaccinated. If I were a political office holder, I would make sure that legislation was passed requiring vaccinations for children. No ifs. No ands. No buts. It is a clear threat to the common welfare not to prevent the ravages of diseases like polio and smallpox, and all the other childhood diseases, many of which, although easily survivable, can have lasting neurological damage that surfaces much later in adult life.

  149. 149
    gelfling545 says:

    @CA Doc: I would guess that the doctor’s insurance carrier might play into this as well. I’m sure that if one of these anti-vaccine people’s kids gets severe complications from a very preventable disease it will be the doctor’s fault somehow. Also, in the situation you describe it could be argued that the doctor knowingly exposed them to unvaccinated persons. It would just be a mess all around.

  150. 150
    gelfling545 says:

    @Percysowner: I had them all including whooping cough as my 2 brothers did at the same time. My mother later told me that she & my dad were largely sleepless for the entire duration of the illness knowing that it was very likely that one or all of us would die and there was nothing to be done about it. They just sat up and watched us. We were amazingly lucky, unlike so many. I think that part of the problem here is that very few of these anti-vaccination people ever really saw these diseases. In my generation, our parents let us be lined up in grade school and given the still very new polio vaccine because nearly every family knew someone who had been killed or crippled by it and knew the real damage done and the need to prevent it.

  151. 151
    Pongo says:

    @Nutella: This could get interesting. The courts are ruling in favor of doctors and pharmacies that refuse to perform abortions or dispense birth control based on their conscience, so they have set a precedent in favor ‘conscience-based professionalism.’ I wonder if that standard will be applied equally?

  152. 152
    Woodrowfan says:


    I had the same thing happen some years back. The flu must have gotten my immune system to fight viruses, which also cause warts, more effectively.

  153. 153
    McJulie says:

    @Sock Puppet of the Great Satan: Yeah, my first thought was that the smallpox thing, if true, would be exactly the kind of observed effect that led to the discovery of vaccinations — the fact that people who had gotten the milder cowpox did not get smallpox.

  154. 154
    FlyingToaster says:

    @Cermet: As someone with a contraindicating condition to smallpox vaccine (hereditary eczema), and a family history of contraindicating conditions (various dietary allergies), we had long discussions with our daughter’s original (retired now) and current pediatricians about modifying the schedule.

    Note, WarriorGirl gets EVERY damn vaccine, but she might have to wait 3 or 6 or 12 months to get some of them. Not being in day-care, she skipped the 1-year flu shot. When she was two, we could get a reliable response from the egg allergy test, and she was negative. Flu shot every year since, which helps protect her classmate with the egg allergy.

    Pediatricians want to know about real contraindicating conditions — and about crazy. As soon as they hear the words “big pharma” or “autism”, they should give that family the heave-ho. Honestly.

    This is one of those instances where we should let the free market work; I’m looking to see if pediatricians who are CT-friendly start advertising on local cable.

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