To think the response to the measles outbreak in Wales has been too slow ?

(108 Posts)

Like many other parents of children who are now teenagers (or thereabouts) we didn't have our DC's immunised with MMR as youngsters. With the current outbreak of measles in Wales, and also now they are older, we have reconsidered and decided to ask for the vax for them both. I phoned my GP surgery this morning to make an appt. for them. Receptionists initial response was ...
"Oh, I think it's too late now" shock - then after I said that I knew lots of teenagers were having the vax she said she'd get the nurse to phone me back. Lovely practice nurse did this shortly afterwards and I now have an appt. for them to have it in about a week's time.

Was a little shocked though by the receptionist's initial poorly informed and frankly somewhat judgemental response to my request.
This has also made me think of the pictures on the news of the long queues of parents and children in Wales now coming forward to have their vaccinations. The long queues make me wonder if the clinics couldn't perhaps be better resourced to cut down on these waiting times (which might put some people off coming forwards)?

If a catch-up programme had been initiated when outbreak began to develop in the autumn, and with perhaps more pro-active and better resourced programmes in clinics and even schools across the country would we have more chance of beating this outbreak before it spreads outside the Swansea and South Wales area ?

Is judgement of the decisions made by parents at the height of the MMR controversy holding practitioners and policy makers back from acting quickly and effectively in the best interests of children's health ?

I know that posting this in AIBU is a risky thing to do as some will surely say I am being unreasonable for not letting my DC's have the vax as young children, but I think the important thing is really looking at what we can all do now, especially to halt this recent measles outbreak.

All I will say in my OP in defence of my past actions is that I have only really understood about herd immunity and protecting the most vulnerable from reading threads on MN. And don't forget one of my recent actions - this morning - is to book them an appointment. smile

Ooh scathing Cogito - but yes if I phone up and ask the receptionist at my GP Surgery for an appointment to have my DC's vaccinated with MMR due to the current outbreak, and as they haven't previously had it, I do expect her to say "Sure, can you come in on Tuesday ?" or whatever.

I don't see that's really asking her to say "How high ?" or un-reasonable of me. I certainly don't expect mis-information as in the "Oh, I think it's too late now" response. Fortunately I was confident enough to challenge her initial response and be put through to the nurse.

TheBigJessie Wed 24-Apr-13 16:21:25

I'm so grateful that I was lucky enough to have my children in between scares, and I've thus been able to vaccinate my children on the recommended schedule. I really feel for those of you who have been having to decide whether to vaccinate early.

adeucalione Wed 24-Apr-13 16:26:47

Fair enough, I don't live in the area now so get my news from This is South Wales, seems that their timeline is not very accurate then.

I am not judgemental of anyone who didn't give their child the MMR at the height of the scare OP, although it wasn't a decision I made for my own children, but I am a bit judgy about people who haven't vaccinated their child in the years since the research was thoroughly discredited.

Well you'll be judgy of quite a few of us then !

MyDarlingClementine Wed 24-Apr-13 16:34:02

I think what is even more worrying is that no one has said - whether people like myself who think we were vaccinated, are still immune to it?

And what to do about vulnerable little tiny babies.

confused

TheBigJessie Wed 24-Apr-13 16:56:42

Lurkers: while you're at the surgery, make appointments to catch up on any other vaccines your children might have missed. Particularly -- the fucking-- Whooping Cough. Otherwise known as Pertussis. That has made a comeback. It's on the schedule at 8 weeks, 12 weeks, 16 weeks and 3-5 years (when it's often done at the same appointment as the MMR).

In order to avoid discussion of the MMR with healthcare staff, many people simply skipped making any vaccination appointments for their nursery age children, and thus missed that final dTaP/IPV.

I don't have statistical evidence at the moment, but I think a significant number of parents don't have the first few lots done either, because they feel their babies are too small.

Whooping Cough is not only an absolute bastard, but an absolute bastard moving to a street near you!

MummytoKatie Wed 24-Apr-13 17:15:41

What exactly is it that you are annoyed about? The fact that one receptionist had the wrong information? Presumably you also got the wrong end of the stick about vaccinations (given by the fact that you have un-vaccinated children)?

Surely the best thing is how everyone can move forward. You get your kids vaccinated. The receptionist now knows older kids can be vaccinated.

Either we blame for past mistakes or we don't!

Fair enough MummytoK - let's move on !

MmeThenardier Wed 24-Apr-13 17:30:07

YANBU about the receptionist. As the gatekeeper she should be on the ball about who gets what where. Its her job.

Makes me wonder if people have tried to get immunised in the last few months (following the letters from schools etc) and have met with a reception like this and not bothered. If she's like this during an epidemic who knows how unhelpful she would be in the absence of one.

TheBigJessie Wed 24-Apr-13 18:15:28

It was probably the first time she'd had such a call. To give credit to the OP, she's encountered new information and rethought her position. This is an issue that people rarely rethink, and so calls from people wanting vaccinations for older children or adults are pretty rare. The staff at my surgery were astonished when I called up for myself!

OhLori Wed 24-Apr-13 18:27:50

To be honest, I think some people would like the Government to clean their arses if they could.

MMR has been available for years and highly promoted by the government. Unless you have been on planet Mars your child/ren would have been offered it.

If some parents chose not to vaccinate (as I did!) then obviously they are at risk of getting measles, doh!

But it doesn't have to be all about me and my children, despite my annoyance at the receptionist, it's not just personal.

Irrespective of the decisions I've taken at different times for my own children I don't see why I can't form and put forward a view on the response to the outbreak and efficacy of this.

Lazyjaney Wed 24-Apr-13 20:31:57

"Irrespective of the decisions I've taken at different times for my own children I don't see why I can't form and put forward a view on the response to the outbreak and efficacy of this"

You can, but your view is not particularly credible.

Blaming the efficacy of handling the outbreak on a doctors assistant who took 15 minutes to give you your MMR jabs, and absolving yourself of responsibility for your refusal to do anything about it for the previous 15 years (including 5 months of epidemic warning) is never going to fly.

Oh, stop giving me such a ridiculous hard time about everything I write Janey.

Everyone is entitled to a view and to make decisions for their own children.

You're right though, you don't have to care about my view, anymore than I care about yours !

Juggling, you are the one who started a thread criticising the NHS's response to the measles outbreak, based purely on you feeling judged by one receptionist at one GP's surgery. I've rarely seen a better example of the belief that 'the best form of defence is attack'.

(And AmandinePoulain gave you chapter and verse of just how thorough the NHS has been, trying to encourage MMR takeup for months now.)

Well, about the receptionist .. you can say she was one receptionist at one GP's surgery but she was the gatekeeper (as MmeThenardier kindly recognised) for my children's access to health provision in the current situation. Funnily enough I didn't call all the other GP surgeries in the country.

I started the thread not only to discuss her response to my query but also to look at the wider question of the general response to this outbreak by policy makers and HCP's across the country.

Just like it's important that we as parents make the right decisions for our own children (as far as we are able, and yes, take responsibility for them)
it's also important for policy makers such as Jeremy Hunt, the Health Secretary, to take an overview of the whole situation, and make the right decisions to protect children's health across the country. (Was pleased to read front page article in The Times yesterday talking about the response they are now making to this outbreak)

Speaking of our personal situation, I have every right to change my mind in the light of changing circumstances (a measles outbreak, and yes, that always has been a possibility) in what is after all not a completely black and white issue (as there are some risks with vaccines as well as with getting measles)

AmandinePoulain Thu 25-Apr-13 11:40:37

Right then. So you have 'every right to change your mind' based on the current outbreak. So whilst the rest of us took our children along for their MMR, in order to protect them and in the hope of preventing such a situation, you didn't. Which contributed to the current situation, did it not? And now you have realised that shock horror, my children might get measles! you want them protected, yes? hmm Have I summed up the situation well enough there?

As an aside I met up with a friend with MS today. She is unsure of her measles immunisation status as her mum can't find her records. If she gets measles she will be very very ill. If she gets the MMR now she has been warned that she may not be able to walk for a few days. Talk about rock and hard place! This is the situation that she has found herself in because of the loss of local herd immunity angry.

I think directing your anger so strongly at people who are now re-considering things is slightly misplaced.

I take it you want people to take positive action to improve the situation ?

And actually my personal actions have not as yet contributed to any situation as my DC's have never had measles or passed it on to anyone else. But yes, other people taking similar decisions and actions to me have contributed to the current outbreak in Wales and Manchester.
But anyway, I have now made further decisions which I hope will mean that I am able to continue to not cause any harm to anyone else (including my DC's but others as well)

AmandinePoulain Thu 25-Apr-13 12:19:09

Yes, it's great that you've made that decision, but why now? Why not before? The thing is that you've come on here and blamed the NHS/DoH for you not getting them vaccinated sooner by saying that their response was 'too slow', when this outbreak was a time bomb waiting to explode, it was always going to happen somewhere at some point. We've been told for years now that no link has ever been found between the MMR and autism by research, that information is far from new.

I don't think you've read my posts very carefully Amandine - I haven't blamed anyone for not vaccinating my DC's sooner, that has been my decision.

Just try for a moment to take my DC's vax history and my experience with the receptionist out of the equation for a moment ?

And breathe !

I'm wondering if the national response to this current outbreak has gone far enough or perhaps could have been more pro-active and started earlier ?

The long queues in Wales show that there are in fact many parents like me who are prepared to re-consider their decisions in the light of the current measles threat.

I guess things are always rather different in theory than in practice. If parents pay attention to changing circumstances and gut feelings that isn't always a bad thing.

GoblinGranny Thu 25-Apr-13 12:49:31

Perhaps they should have taken the information from UNICEF and given it to the tabloids, asking them to big it up with extra photographs and 'YOUR CHILD COULD DIE!!!' headlines.
www.iayork.com/Images/2008/8-22-08/MeaslesDeathsUSA.png
www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/books/7930637/Roald-Dahls-secret-notebook-reveals-heartbreak-over-daughters-death.html
www.topnews.in/files/measles-child.jpg

Had a series of terrifying TV adverts, and a poster campaign?

tiggytape Thu 25-Apr-13 13:32:47

YABU
Everyone makes decisions for their children but it is a bit rich to complain about the response to a difficult situation when that situation is completely and directly caused by other people making the exact same choice as you did.

Relying on herd immunity whilst choosing not to (as some people see it) 'risk' your own child by vaccinating only to complain when that decision causes a risk to your exposed child is unreasonable.
You have not been denied the vaccine, you made the decision not to have it but now you want it, you just have to wait a few days for it.

You took the decision knowing the risks of measles (if you read up on the vaccines presumably you read up on the diseases).
You decided not to vaccinate and therefore presumably decided measles was less risky than the vaccine and have now changed your mind.
The NHS are fine to accommodate this change of heart but it is unreasonable to complain they aren't responding as quickly as you want them to.
Afterall you too could have responded quicker – you could have got the vaccine last year or the year before knowing that the original scares were discredited and measles still existed. You didn’t have to wait until an epidemic hit to change your mind but since you have it is obvious there’s bound to be a backlog.

Only thing is I'm not complaining about in such a personal way - I've never said I have any problem with how long my DC's have to wait for an appt. since I asked for one (not that long IMO)

It's the national response I was commenting on, but obviously all tied up with my decisions about vax, which has probably made the thread a little complicated for some. And blimey, don't people love to make things personal on Mumsnet !

tiggytape Thu 25-Apr-13 13:45:05

I agree the receptionist shouldn't give out duff information on vaccines or anything else. Either she should know or she should check.

But the national response is probably the best they can manage when thousands of people all have a change of heart about MMR vaccination in the space of weeks. Getting huge amounts of extra supplies of any vaccine takes time as does coordinating appointments for so many extra people to be seen.
It isn't personally against you at all - it is just thousands of other people also made the same decision you did and therefore the response cannot be as swift as it would if only a handful of people were affected.

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