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

Callisto Wed 24-Apr-13 10:59:42

You reap what you sow OP. And no, I think that the official response has been reasonable. I'm not sure what you expect really.

GreenEggsAndNichts Wed 24-Apr-13 11:04:00

You're right. And staff at your GP seem misinformed, as even on the news here in the east midlands, we're being told clinics are being set up in Wales and calls for children your DC's ages are being put out to get their vax.

DottyboutDots Wed 24-Apr-13 11:04:13

Dear god. Were you really shocked that a receptionist wasn't up to speed on an issue that you weren't either. Do you get shocked and offended often? YABU.

TheBigJessie Wed 24-Apr-13 11:04:42

I'm not sure you can extrapolate from one receptionist.

For example, when I got my vaccines done a few years ago (adult child of anti-vaccine mother) the receptionist at my surgery was helpful, although she was a bit astounded by such a non-routine request.
Me: I want to an appointment with the doctor to discuss having my MMR vaccine and any others.
Receptionist: you want to be booked in for anti-malaria? Righty-oh!
Me: no, MMR and all other childhood vaccines.
Receptionist: What? Are you sure you haven't had them? Okay, I don't know whether we do that, but I'll book you a doctor's appointment.

Thanks for your reply Callisto

I expect to raise the profile of this important current issue and promote good decision making by all in tackling this recent measles outbreak.

Possibly encourage others to do as I have done this morning and make their DC's an appointment.

Hold practitioners and GP surgery receptionists accountable for their responses to parents enquiring about having the vax (for their DC's)

Hold policy makers accountable for the speed and efficacy of their response to the developing situation.

Different response at my GPs. Booked an appointment but not until mid May!

Well done Exit smile
Nice to know I'm not the only one !

TheBigJessie Wed 24-Apr-13 11:12:57

Well, to be fair, they did big public awareness campaigns to try and get teens vaccinated in 2005, due to Mumps outbreaks. (It was particularly a problem amongst the then university cohort, if you're wondering why you weren't aware of it.) Unfortunately, the left hand didn't know what the right hand was doing, and we then had a shortage of MMR vaccine. Obviously, when there's a shortage, routine immunisations for the thirteen-month-olds and three-year-olds have to be prioritised.

And yes was surprised more than shocked that receptionist not better informed about the whole situation and that she really thought and told me it might be "too late" - for teenagers to have an MMR ?
Surely it works just as well at any age ?

TheBigJessie Wed 24-Apr-13 11:13:58

Oh, a bit got left off my post.

So maybe they've decided not to run a huge campaign, until they've actually stocked up!

Actually I heard on news last night that a catch-up campaign will be launching tomorrow (so hopefully they have adequate amounts of vaccines available)

That does surprise me too when there are shortages of vaccines Jessie, though obviously people become much more concerned and demand rises quickly during an outbreak.

TheBigJessie Wed 24-Apr-13 11:21:16

Just to clarify- we don't have a shortage of vaccine now, as far as I am aware, in case any one lurking is worried.

I work in a primary school, we have 3 cases of Rubella. I've just been to book my dd for her second MMR early ( shes 3.3 so not too early) because I'm not risking carrying and passing on.

TheBigJessie Wed 24-Apr-13 11:25:12

Surely it works just as well at any age ?

More or less, although the MMR is less effective on children under 13 months, and is less likely to result in immunity then. But I wouldn't blame a receptionist for not knowing that. Not part of the job role!

You don't think it's part of her role to be aware that some children missed out on MMR jabs as youngsters due to controversy surrounding it and that it's possible for them to have it later Jessie ? Seems fairly uninformed to me, and if she didn't know she shouldn't have offered an opinion surely, she could just have said she'd go and ask about that ? I think she was in the wrong to use the phrase "too late" in her initial response to my query.
Even "I'll have to ask if that's possible" would have been better.

TheBigJessie Wed 24-Apr-13 11:39:01

I wouldn't expect a receptionist to necessarily know how vaccines work, no. They're not medically qualified, as MNers regularly complain!

"I'll have to ask if that's possible" would have been better, yes, but this one, individual, woman was obviously caught on the hop.

She obviously had her big judgey pants on this morning IMHO smile

GoblinGranny Wed 24-Apr-13 11:46:10

I think that the response has been pretty good considering all the arguments and publicity that have been ongoing since immunisation rates dropped.
They've got an enormous backlog to get through that is entirely not of their creation, and for the most part it is being done in a non-judgemental atmosphere.
As for the OP, you based your decision on scaremongering, and didn't research the possible consequences at the time? hmm

So much for "non-judgemental attitude" goblin hmm (raises mild eyebrow in goblin's direction)

The situation is what it is ( cf. "backlog which is entirely not of their creation")

The question for everyone, as always, should be the best way forward from here

GoblinGranny Wed 24-Apr-13 11:55:45

I wasn't talking about me, I was meaning the belated access to immunisation provided by healthcare professionals who spent months trying to persuade parents that Wakefield's studies were flawed.
Some people chose not to immunise because of strong family backgrounds of bad reactions and personal experience of children with compromised immune systems. Thousands more did so because of the equivalent of the DM scaremongering. You learned about herd immunity from MN?
I'm just pleased that the hordes are now trotting towards GPs and boosting herd immunity from a disease that killed and disabled many when I was a child.

Gruntfuttocks Wed 24-Apr-13 11:56:29

Sounds to me like the receptionist was mis-informed rather than judgemental, and she did what you wanted in the end and helped you organise an appointment. Doctors' receptionists get bombarded with all sorts of requests all day long, and can't be expected to 'know it all' - they are only human.
Huffing and puffing about health services not getting their act together quickly enough for your liking is pretty unreasonable, when you are in one of the group that created this situation by not vaccinating your kids in the first place. I think you need to get over yourself, dear.
Hoists judgey pants smartly...

Pigsmummy Wed 24-Apr-13 11:59:42

I have a baby who having just turned six months is likely running low on maternal protection and not due to have the MMR vaccine until 11 months, I contacted the surgery to ask for guidance, they said that unless we are travelling to Swansea for an overnight visit they won't provide the available measles vaccine, do the NHS believe that people don't travel?

I was asking for the advice ahead of a visit to family, they live in Cardiff (very close to Swansea) and we were going to Shropshire (where the headline on the local newspaper is "Measles outbreak confirmed in several schools across county"). Surely the NHS could offer the vaccine to us and anyone else who wants it? The cost per measles vaccine is tiny versus the cost of managing an outbreak/epidemic.

I have now booked a private vaccination for my baby that I will struggle to afford.

GoblinGranny Wed 24-Apr-13 12:02:23

This is from the UNICEF website:
'Measles is a viral respiratory infection that attacks the immune system, making children vulnerable for deadly infections. Exceptionally contagious, children who are not immunized will suffer from the disease when exposed. Most people see measles as a disease that causes temporary illness, requiring time off from school or work. But it is deadly: as many as five out of every hundred measles cases among children can cause death.
Survivors of measles are often left with life-long disabilities, such as blindness, deafness or brain damage. Prior to the availability of measles vaccine, measles infected over 90% of children before they reached 15 years of age. These infections were estimated to cause more than two million deaths and between 15,000 and 60,000 cases of blindness annually worldwide.
Unvaccinated children under the age of five are most at risk of death. Older susceptible children may sustain transmission and put the youngsters at risk for measles.

"You learnt about herd immunity from Mumsnet ?"

And yes Goblin why not ? I've developed a better understanding of lots of things from reading threads on here - so much personal experience as well as expert opinion.

Lazyjaney Wed 24-Apr-13 12:14:44

Where have you been the last 10 years OP?

Your panic is not her fault so blaming some poor receptionist for her lack of instant response seems a bit off, especially as she did the right thing and put you on to the nurse and you are now sorted.

TheBigJessie Wed 24-Apr-13 12:17:13

This thread reminds me of something else. A little thing that amazes me.

Gillian McKeith and the "chlorophyll oxygenates your blood" thing. A year 10 schoolchild should be able to spot the essential flaws with her claim. Chlorophyll has been on science and biology specs since the days of yore. Probably since the days of Rosalind Franklin.

So why is she rich, and why did she get on mainstream TV?

If someone can fully answer this question, it will explain a lot else.

She wasn't "some poor receptionist" It is her job to deal with various medical enquiries and requests for appointments, and she showed an inflexible, ill-informed, and poor attitude IMO
But it was fairly short-lived and she did ask the practice nurse to phone me back.

GoblinGranny Wed 24-Apr-13 12:39:26

'So why is she rich, and why did she get on mainstream TV?'

Because she's slim, plausible, a good communicator and sells an ideal that people find appealing. Ben Goldacre's response to her patter in his book 'Bad Science' did little to dissuade her following, as they really very weren't interested in facts.
It's not a new question, people have been buying materials to make them fitter, healthier, more sexually adept and less bald for centuries. smile

Juggling, if anyone is being judgy, I fear it is you with your " It is her job to deal with various medical enquiries and requests for appointments, and she showed an inflexible, ill-informed, and poor attitude IMO". She is HUMAN and thus susceptible to the same frailties as everyone else.

And now I'll hoist my judgy-pants.

Seriously, you only found out about herd immunity through MN? So a fair amount of time after you decided not to vaccinate your children? Just how little information went into your decision?

And as for "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)?" And where are these resources to come from? Do you think the NHS keeps teams of people sitting around twiddling their thumbs so they can be ready to spring into action for specific short-term jobs?

It's been clear for years that the MMR scare was bogus. You've had all these years to vaccinate, but it wasn't high enough on YOUR priorities to do so. Now you want them, you want everyone else to jump.

You obviously don't like being judged. Tough.

AmandinePoulain Wed 24-Apr-13 13:17:11

We had letters home from school before Christmas to inform us that measles cases were rising, and advising us to contact our GPs for the MMR if our children hadn't had both doses, so those of us in the local area were informed months ago. The main issue as far as I can see is that parents have buried their heads in the sand and thought that it wouldn't happen to them, and that measles isn't that bad - just a rash and a headache, right hmm? And then children started being hospitalised in their local communities, and a man died, and then suddenly there's a mass panic. You are responsible for your children's vaccination status - it isn't anyone else's job to chase you.

Lazyjaney Wed 24-Apr-13 13:18:07

"She wasn't "some poor receptionist" It is her job to deal with various medical enquiries and requests for appointments, and she showed an inflexible, ill-informed, and poor attitude IMO"

As compared to the inflexible, ill informed and poor attitude that made you refuse to get your kids the jabs for the previous 15 or so years, and then castigate this poor woman when she didn't instantly do your bidding when you finally get off your arse?

Frankly I think you and those like you are the problem with this measles outbreak, not harassed doctors receptionists

I didn't "castigate this poor woman" she came as close as she dared to castigating me, and showed too much of the judgey attitude that is predictably coming out from some here.

GibberTheMonkey Wed 24-Apr-13 13:30:28

I've been meaning to ask
What about adults rather than teens
I had mumps as a child and had the rubella jab as a teen (at school) but I've never been vaccinated against measles. My husband hasn't had any of them, and don't have the rubella vaccine being male.
The man who died was 25, not a teen.
Can we now be vaccinated? All my children have been done (though youngest is due preschool booster)
But we aren't safe.

chocoluvva Wed 24-Apr-13 13:38:36

Yes, GibberTheMonkey, you can be vaccinated.

sashh Wed 24-Apr-13 13:41:18

but I think the important thing is really looking at what we can all do now, especially to halt this recent measles outbreak.

Well you are doing all you can by having your children vaccinated. Are you going to have it too?

Then care we spare a thought for parents whose children can't be vaccinated for medical reasons. Can you imagine how they feel?

Good point Gibber, maybe I should ask for it too, as have only had rubella jab as a teenager ?

Regarding the herd immunity thing what I have learnt from MN is more about how some children with lowered immune systems are recommended not to have it, and how the immunity of the rest of us offers them protection. I don't see why anyone would find it genuinely shocking or surprising for me to learn and appreciate this more from reading about people's personal experiences here.

X post.
Thanks for your encouragement sashh

TheBigJessie Wed 24-Apr-13 14:31:30

GoblinGranny all true. But she is selling ideas that are disproven by the level of science taught in late primary/ early secondary school. (<Comic sans>We need trees because plants produce oxygen through photosynthesis. Photosynthesis happens in the day time.)
Maths, English and a Science GCSE have been practically compulsory for years.
And yet, when Gillian starts spouting her ideas in the studio, the staff around her didn't go, "hang on, wait a minute? How does that work?" And nor did the nation turn off their TV sets in fits of laughter.

And thus, we have a world where an adult, literate woman (this being MN, OP probably has a degree in something quite prestigious and academic), the mother of pre-teens, didn't know about herd imunity as a matter of course. I've a feeling herd immunity is probably A-level Biology, and as a country we don't seem to have the hang of Key Stage 3.

They have to prioritise. So, maybe the campaign to vaccinate older people is not that important to the NHS or to the receptionist where you are.

I missed the BCG and called my GP about getting it as an adult. The conversation went like this...

I need a BCG.
How old are you?
We don't do that for adults, what is your job?
Homeless outreach and shelters.
Can you come in today?

FWIW I blame the parents who didn't vaccinate during the panic (except the parents of kids with chemo etc.) but I blame the press more. Stupid, ill-informed, should have known better, scare-mongering fuckwits. They should be ashamed.

SlowlorisIncognito Wed 24-Apr-13 14:55:29

TheBigJessie I didn't learn anything about herd immunity until A Level Biology not all that long ago. I agree it could have been taught at least as part of GCSE as it's not a massive complex concept and very important for public health that people understand it.

In my A level class there was actually a boy who hadn't been immunised due to a number of severe allergies. He now works in a public facicing role (luckily not near Swansea) and I do wonder about the risks to him from parents who still aren't vacinating without good reason.

OP- none of this is meant as a dig to you. Perhaps you would consider reading "Bad Science" by Ben Goldacre. It includes a chapter on MMR (among many other things) and hopefully will help you understand how science is often portrayed in the media.

I hope your children get their vaccine ok- don't forget to make sure they get any boosters they may need.

However, the receptionist made a mistake, which she then corrected, and there's been no lasting harm done, so I think you should just let her attitude go. You are coming across as very defensive on this thread but people do judge people for not vaccinating- it really is a dangerous choice for you and others.

Not surprising surely if I've sounded a bit defensive considering the tone of some posts ? Not sure my hard hat was quite securely enough in place before heading into AIBU, and as an OP on vax thread too !

I agree I should let the receptionists attitude go, but just think it is relevant to the question of whether people are able to do what is best in the current situation without looking back unduly at past decisions.

It's hard Juggling though. The fact is that you wouldn't have been talking to that receptionist if you had vaccinated your DC. People find that hard to ignore. Also, I think people who are passionate about vaccinating look at the queues and read threads like this and think, 'told you so'. It's not a noble thought or a helpful one but after years of hearing quasi-scientific bullshit, it's an understandable one.

I also recommend Bad Science. Good book.

adeucalione Wed 24-Apr-13 15:37:32

I do think that health officials could have responded to the outbreak rather sooner than they did.

If I've understood correctly, they first met in November to discuss the rising numbers, yet it was February before there was an announcement (after the outbreak at Parkland Primary), 1st March before parents were advised to make sure that their children received the MMR and 29th March before crisis measures were announced and drop-in clinics started vaccinating.

Having said that, there was a lot of publicity around the outbreak in 2009, in Powys I think, so I am struggling to understand why parents didn't take action then.

AmandinePoulain Wed 24-Apr-13 15:52:45

Ade As I said earlier, local parents were told via a letter from school before Christmas; the first cases in Parklands had already happened then - I know because I started a thread about vaccinating my then 4mo.

CwtchesAndCuddles Wed 24-Apr-13 16:04:24

I live in the outbreak area and we have been having letters home about measles risk and the importance of vaccination for months!!! I don't know what else public health could have done - they can't force people to vaccinate............

Now that there are so many cases and the risk is very real many parents have decided to vaccinate. The queues at the drop in clinics are due to high demand, I've heard a few people moning about having to queue but they are the same people who have been ignoring the advice to vaccinate fo months.

CogitoErgoSometimes Wed 24-Apr-13 16:08:26

You opted to leave your children unvaccinated and now everyone else is as fault for not asking 'how high?' when you say 'jump'? hmm Unless you've got measles cases reported in your area I'm sure, having survived the last 10-12 years unscathed, a few more days or weeks won't present that much of a risk.

Thanks for getting things back to where I started Ade - I think I'd strayed a bit on my own thread there, distracted by that receptionist !

I feel there are quite a lot of issues around how everyone feels about parents who didn't vaccinate (no shit Sherlock !), but I still think there should be respect for parents making what they feel are the best decisions for their children in the circumstances and with the information and understanding of that which they have.

The "told you so" attitude possibly needs to be overcome in order to achieve best outcomes for all children. (And I'm sure the generally non-judgemental attitude being shown eg. in these drop in clinics is testament to the efforts being made by HCP's to do this)

landofsoapandglory Wed 24-Apr-13 16:13:28

My DC (16&18) were vaccinated when they were little. We have subsequently had letters from our GP when they were about 14, saying some DC's boosters were missed and were advised to get them done. We booked in straight away.

You chose not to get your DC vaccinated,the 'evidence' you based that decsion on was discredited years ago and now you are moaning they aren't being quick enough! You've had years, FGS!

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.


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.

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

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

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.

georgedawes Thu 25-Apr-13 13:49:21

On a totally different note, can I ask why you changed your mind about having your children vaccinated? I'm genuinely not having a go, just wondering what prompted it (being nosey I guess). I just would've thought you'd accepted their risk of measles before but now you don't want to get it, didn't you worry they'd get it before?

As I said not having a go, just interested.

Thanks tiggy, maybe I do read people's posts as more personal than is meant, though still think some have been a bit full on.

Just think everyone (especially HCP's and policy makers) should try to accept that we are where we are, and do whatever they can to proceed positively from here. I do think that overly judgemental attitudes to past decisions by parents could hold back effective action in the present, possibly developing, situation.

Fair enough george - nicely asked !

I think when they were very small I just felt they were too small to be injected with nasty poisons which no-one could reassure me would do them no harm (let alone protect them from nasty illnesses) DD was born in 1999 and I think the balance of what I was hearing at the height of the controversy was not enough to weigh the scales in favour of having the vax. In fact was sufficiently concerned that they haven't had any of their vax.

Watching the news the other night there were two boys talking about how nasty it was to have measles, and an interview with the mother of the man who died. It is hearing their personal experiences that has changed my mind. Together with my children seeming much older and more robust now, plus the fact they may want to travel more in the coming years. Plus reading here of the risk to those who cannot have the vax. Plus the worrying research at centre of controversy being discredited. Plus being in a better place now to weigh up evidence and make a decision. May well have had some PN depression issues. But overwhelmingly it's hearing personal experiences and understanding the threat of an outbreak to the DC's.

BTW After they've had their MMR's I'm going to discuss with the nurse a catch-up programme for their other missing vaccs. I was worried by seeing the effects of tetanus on a child in Africa during Comic Relief - so again persuaded by personal experiences of others. (I've never known anyone who's had tetanus so I think that partly explains why it's not that real to me ?)

Perhaps it's easy to be overly worried by the risk of the vax and not sufficiently worried by the risks of the illnesses - since I'm not the only one who came down on that side of the decision.
An outbreak can make you re-assess those relative risks.

georgedawes Thu 25-Apr-13 14:28:58

Thanks for your answer. This might be harder to answer but do you think if there'd be an outbreak when your children were small you'd have vaccinated then? Although that might be hard to answer with the benefit of hindsight.

Possibly george, but I think one factor is that they do seem more robust now than when they were so tiny !
Also we were at the height of the controversy then and it's now been widely discredited. I've come to believe that any apparent correlation between autism and MMR is not causal but very largely due to the characteristics of autism becoming apparent at around the same age the MMR is given. I know some people still hold different views about this.

I am similar to Juggling. DD born in 1999, although she had the other vaccines and a single measles jab. I am still an advocate of single jabs and think it is unfortunate that they are no longer available.

I am having DD vaccinated now, because I asked her if she wanted to have them. I am more concerned about rubella to be honest as she has had the single measles. I always intended to get her done at some point as I would hate my decisions to affect any future pregnancies she may have.

tiggytape Thu 25-Apr-13 14:46:29

I do understand.
DS was born in 2000 and we gave him the MMR but at the time it was seen as a 'risky' decision by some because of the duff information in the press and everywhere else. I do understand the pressures parents were under then because we had the same.

Maybe therefore there is a case for publicising proper facts about long forgotten diseases. These illnesses have vanished mostly due to vaccination and anything that challenges confidence in vaccines perhaps should be countered with facts and details about the effects of some of these things. Most people probably couldn't tell you how often measles or diptheria is fatal or the long term effects of either so maybe health authorities should fight back a bit to get parents to think about risk in a more realistic way.

Nice to know I have some company Exit - I've felt a bit lonesome on this thread at times !

I've worked with young children with special needs who've been affected by their mother having rubella during pregnancy. Lovely children who I remember well many years afterwards, but again being confronted by people's personal experiences always makes me think.

Thanks for your sympathetic post too tiggy
I think that's a good idea about publicising more information about the illnesses and diseases tigs - to help parents have a more realistic view of the relative risks.

Lazyjaney Thu 25-Apr-13 15:05:47

TBH OP I think your initial stance of attacking the doctor's receptionist was not the best way to win friends. I do think however your long post upthread was extremely good and useful, and IMO should be taken on board by anyone planning any campaign as it explains very well how you came to change your mind, and what could be done to influence others.

I also agree with tiggy that the risks of these diseases if caught has been massively downplayed. It sees to have required measles to actually kill someone, to remind people tat it's a killer, which is why countries inoculate. I think we have had so many generations free of these things we forget why we have inoculations, sewerage, clean water etc in the first place.

TheBigJessie Thu 25-Apr-13 15:10:57

In that case, please get them done for whooping cough.

If you, as a healthy adult, get it, you'll be miserable for three months. If you have asthma, your life will be absolutely shit for three months. If you give it to a baby too young to be fully immunised, they might die.

I have a sickening suspicion that I caught whooping cough when I was 16. At the time, I thought it was bronchitis. However, I do remember the noise I made as I coughed and breathed in... It was awful. It lasted from May until August. And my lungs have been quite the same.

And now I have to wonder whether I passed it on to anyone vulnerable. Fortunately for my conscience, I know it wasn't my fault I wasn't immunised, but I still feel awful. I tell myself I don't know it was whooping cough. I tell myself that there were no deaths from whooping cough in the local newspaper 11 years ago. Still preys on my mind, though.

If your child catches whooping cough, you won't be able to reassure yourself with the excuses I use for myself.

TheBigJessie Thu 25-Apr-13 15:19:46

My lungs havenever been quite the same.

Will do Jessie - when I made the appt the nurse asked if we could discuss other vax too.

Possibly I shouldn't have mentioned the receptionist so much at the beginning Janey but she was on my mind as I'd just phoned to make the appointment. And I thought her response was relevant as kind of showed not everyone is really on message to deliver an effective catch-up programme in light of recent measles outbreak.

I guess there's lots of different ways I could have gone about doing the thread, but I doubt it would have made that much difference to people's reactions overall.

I mentioned at the start of this thread that I have booked my DD in for her MMR, and then this morning I received a letter from the surgery saying I should book her in for one. Ha, beat them to it.

Good they're on the case though Exit - as are you !

MiaowTheCat Thu 25-Apr-13 16:02:26

Ignoring the for and against vac debate (because it will just go round in circles) one thing I think we do need is an awareness push on the symptoms (and real not fluffy or sanitised impact) of these resurging illnesses (including whooping cough here too).

If we are going to have to run round with the real die hard anti vac people relying on someone else to do the nasty stuff (no one enjoys taking kids for jabs) and these diseases are going to come back then at least people might recognise them faster and hopefully reduce the spread a bit. As it is I think lots of people don't know how measles, or whooping cough in little ones, actually appears and it's part of the problem.

Oblomov Thu 25-Apr-13 16:05:45

The very fact that th OP made this mis-informed decision, years ago, NOT to vaccinate is the very reasoon that there is an outbreak in Wales.
And as others have said , she has had YEARS to sort this. She has known for YEARS, that her original deicsion was mis-informed.
But now she is all up in arms about the receptionist.
I can't believe Op's cheek. Absolutely astonishing.

piprabbit Thu 25-Apr-13 16:07:45

The receptionist is an arse, I can't help but wonder what other jems of medical misinformation she is unloading on the patients.

She needs retraining, either to stick the practice line (i.e. if she has been specifically told by practice management not to allow teenagers to book MMRs) or not comment at all. Otherwise she risks causing problems for patients and the practice.

Hmm, receptionist was still wrong though in saying "Oh, I think it's too late now" Still not good, whatever you think of my judgements over the years.

MrsHoarder Thu 25-Apr-13 16:13:13

Not read full thread, but wanted to point out the news crews will look for the longest queue they can find. All the clinics with short queues seeing people as they turn up don't look interesting. Of course people see the news then decide not to go to their local clinic, which raises the question as to how ethical the media are...

piprabbit Thu 25-Apr-13 16:14:14

Exactly, what if a patient phones to book a smear test and she says "Oh, I think you have to be over 30yo have one of those".
Or someone phones for a flu jab because they have an auto-immune disease and she says "I think they are only available to over 60s".
To which the patient might (like the OP) insist on speaking to someone else, but they equally might thank her for her help, apologise for bothering her and hang up.

Thanks pip - seems these issues are pretty much at the heart of being a good receptionist at a GP surgery. In fact it made me think maybe I could give it a go !

ubik Thu 25-Apr-13 16:25:02

Perhaps it would be cheeky to surmise that op is feeling defensive about not giving her children thr appropriate vaccinations and is transferring some of this emotion on to the GP receptionist - who did her job, got the nurse to phone.

When you go in, perhaps thank the receptionist fir doing this, thank the nurse for his/her care and advice and be bloody grateful you are not living in a country where there is no vaccination programme or you have to pay ££££.

GoblinGranny Thu 25-Apr-13 16:30:03

'In fact it made me think maybe I could give it a go !'

Presumably you will have to have MN in an open tab on your computer, just to make sure that you give the correct medical information.

I am a very grateful and thankful person ubik - so no problem with thanking those that do a good job, especially helping me to look after my DC's.

smile @ goblin - Yes, MN on open tab defs !

TheBigJessie Thu 25-Apr-13 16:43:49

MiaowTheCat I entirely agree. If I had Whooping Cough, no-one realised! I didn't ever consider it as a possibility until I read the media coverage in recent years, and then my blood ran cold with recognition.

We've had Mumps, Measles and Whooping Cough outbreaks in the last ten years. Is it going to be diphtheria next? Such an elegant name for such a horrible disease, I always think.

Softlysoftly Thu 25-Apr-13 17:37:46

This thread has pissed me off. I am having to vaccinate my too young (11m) baby who is only a week out of paeds and being investigated for tb, that's a risk I'm having to take due to people not vaccinating their dcs at the appropriate time.

I'm in the outbreak area, there are signs EVERYWHERE they're are clinics EVERY WEEKEND gps are booked up with mmrs, they are doing as much as they can as fast as they can. They deserve your THANKS for being there when suddenly the reality of measels bursts your little protective bubble.

I saw a nurse in paeds who said she had been reported to a supervisor for daring to question a parent who had chosen not to vaccinate. I bet that's one of the parents queuing at a clinic now moaning about the qs and why "they" didn't stop it earlier.

georgedawes Thu 25-Apr-13 17:39:10

Thanks for answering my question.

When you initially turned the mmr down did you not really consider the possibility of them contracting measles? Was it more about the risk, as you saw it, of the vaccination?

Has anyone read the book, risk? Can't remember who wrote it but it's great and demonstrates why we're quite bad at evaluating risks, it definitely applies to vaccinations. Well worth a read, explains why I get scared of flying when it's much safer than driving a car!

AnyoneforTurps Thu 25-Apr-13 18:07:15

I can't understand why you think the receptionist's response was judgemental. There are vaccines that work less effectively after a certain age (e.g. BCG) or which are not usually given after infancy (pertussis). She was probably caught on the hop and confused MMR with one of those. It sounds as if you are just projecting your own guilt about not vaccinating earlier onto the poor receptionist.

As for starting the catch-up campaigns earlier, what makes you think that parents who had previously refused to vaccinate would have done so in the autumn, prior to the measles outbreak? Sadly, it has taken the outbreak to prove to people that the measles risk is real.

AnyoneforTurps Thu 25-Apr-13 18:14:17

softly as an A&E doctor, I once had a complaint made against me by the mother of a completely unvaccinated child who came in with a large wound in his leg filled with dirt (nasty football injury). I didn't give her any high horse stuff about vaccines generally, just warned her that he was at risk of tetanus and that it is potentially fatal. Result = complaint for "frightening her". Luckily my consultant told her to foxtrot oscar grin.

The OP needs to understand that those of us who are pro-vaccine have been putting up with abuse from the extreme end of the anti-vaccine lobby for years. I am not for a moment suggesting this was the majority of the parents who did not vaccinate, but it was a very spiteful and vocal minority. So you'll have to forgive us if we're not distraught that you didn't get the red carpet treatment from a solitary receptionist once you finally realised we'd been right all along.

ApocalypseThen Thu 25-Apr-13 18:20:00

The problem is that being selfish and anti-social often goes with a massive sense of entitlement.

Personally, I think the panic getting of MMR among the refuses now that there's a crisis is hilarious. Or would be, if they hadn't caused such issues for others. Still, I guess it's never going to be their fault. I see its now doctors who didn't persuade them strongly enough that a make up risk was a stupid reason to deny their children astonishingly effective medicine at the time, or receptionists who must be rolling their eyes rather than coddling adults who took absurd risks with their children's health against all medical advice and now don't want to be judged.


Softlysoftly Thu 25-Apr-13 18:39:11

Anyone apparently that was the nurses supervisor's response too.

Especially as the complainant was a pharmacist who said her opinion therefore trumped that of a mere nurse hmm

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