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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

"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

WhereYouLeftIt Wed 24-Apr-13 13:06:02

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.

MrsTerryPratchett Wed 24-Apr-13 14:39:01

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.

MrsTerryPratchett Wed 24-Apr-13 15:36:29

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!

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