Let’s review: What everyone gets wrong about anti-vaccine parents


We told them this would happen.

We told them that it was only a matter of time before a childhood disease that had nearly been eliminated from the US would come roaring back if they failed to vaccinate their children. And that’s precisely what has happened. Measles has come roaring back, but not simply because a child incubating measles visited Disneyland.

Twenty years ago, if the same child had visited Disneyland, the measles would have stopped with him or her. Everyone else was protected — not because everyone was vaccinated — but because of herd immunity. When a high enough proportion of the population is vaccinated, the disease simply can’t spread because the odds of one unvaccinated person coming in contact with another are very low.

Of course, we told them that. We patiently explained herd immunity, debunked claims of an association between vaccines and autism, demolished accusations of “toxins” in vaccines, but they didn’t listen. Why? Because we thought the problem was that anti-vax parents didn’t understand science. That’s undoubtedly true, but the anti-vax movement is NOT about science and never was.

The anti-vax movement has never been about children, and it hasn’t really been about vaccines. It’s about privileged parents and how they wish to view themselves.

1. Privilege

Nothing screams “privilege” louder than ostentatiously refusing something that those less privileged wish to have.

Each and every anti-vax parent is privileged in having easy and inexpensive access to life saving vaccines. It is the sine qua non of the anti-vax movement. In a world where the underprivileged may trudge miles to the nearest clinic, desperate to save their babies from infectious scourges, nothing communicates the unbelievable wealth, ease and selfishness of modern American life like refusing the very same vaccines.

2. Unreflective defiance of authority

There are countless societal ills that stem from the fact that previous generations were raised to unreflective acceptance of authority. It’s not hard to argue that unreflective acceptance of authority, whether that authority is the government or industry, is a bad thing. BUT that doesn’t make the converse true. Unreflective defiance is really no different from unreflective acceptance. Oftentimes, the government, or industry, is right about a particular set of claims.

Experts in a particular topic, such as vaccines, really are experts. They really know things that the lay public does not. Moreover, it is not common to get a tremendous consensus among experts from different fields. Experts in immunology, pediatrics, public health and just about everything else you can think of have weighed in on the side of vaccines. Experts in immunology, pediatrics and public health give vaccines to their OWN children, rendering claims that they are engaged in a conspiracy to hide the dangers of vaccines to be nothing short of ludicrous.

Unfortunately, most anti-vax parents consider defiance of authority to be a source of pride, whether that defiance is objectively beneficial or not.

3. The need to feel “empowered”

This is what is comes down to for most anti-vax parents: it’s a source of self-esteem for them. In their minds, they have “educated” themselves. How do they know they are “educated”? Because they’ve chosen to disregard experts (who appear to them as authority figures) in favor of quacks and charlatans, whom they admire for their own defiance of authority. The combination of self-education and defiance of authority is viewed by anti-vax parents as an empowering form of rugged individualism, marking out their own superiority from those pathetic “sheeple” who aren’t self-educated and who follow authority.

Where does that leave us?

First, it explains why efforts to educate anti-vax parents about the science of immunology has been such a spectacular failure. It is not, and has never been, about the science.

Second, it suggests how we must change our approach. Simply put, we have to hit anti-vax parents where they live: in their unmerited sense of superiority.

How? By pointing out to them, and critiquing, their own motivations.

Anti-vax parents are anxious to see themselves in a positive light. They would almost certainly be horrified to find that others regard them as so incredibly privileged that they can’t even see their own privilege.

We need to highlight the fact that unreflective defiance is just the flip side of unreflective acceptance. There’s nothing praiseworthy about it. Only teenagers think that refusing to do what authority figures recommend marks them as independent. Adults know that doing the exact opposite of what authority figures recommend is a sign of immaturity, not deliberation, and certainly not education.

Finally, we need to emphasize to parents that parenting is not about them and their feelings. It’s about their children and THEIR health and well being. It’s one thing to decline to follow a medical recommendation. Most of us do that all the time. It’s another thing entirely to join groups defined by defiance, buy their products, and preach to others about your superiority in defying medical recommendations. That’s a sign of the need to bolster their own self-esteem, not their “education.”

We have to confront anti-vax parents where they live — in their egos. When refusing to vaccinate your children is widely viewed as selfish, irresponsible, and the hallmark of being UNeducated, anti-vax advocacy will lose its appeal.


This piece first appeared in January 2015.

202 Responses to “Let’s review: What everyone gets wrong about anti-vaccine parents”

  1. January 28, 2019 at 5:12 am #

    The antivax movement is also incredibly ableist.

  2. Sue
    January 27, 2019 at 10:34 pm #

    In the few years I`ve been watching and interacting with anti-vaxers on social media, I`ve seen a few different motivation patterns:

    Perhaps the most important group are parents struggling with developmental or behavioural issues in their kids. It can be painful for them to consider that autism, for example, is `genetic` because it’s interpreted as ‘I caused it’ or ‘my genes are bad’. It’s tempting to look for an external locus of blame.

    It’s worse if the parents already feel disempowered – being anti-vax can be a symbolic ‘fighting back’ at the medical and government establishments that (they feel) don’t support their stance and don’t do or provide enough for them. They fall prey to anti-vax groups who validate their stance and encourage them.

    A sub-group of the latter become ‘stars’ of the anti-vax movement, and their reward is fame and kudos and money. This can be very alluring.

    Then there are the entitled parents who honestly think they are doing ‘clean living’ and might, subconsciously, know that they are protected by everyone else, but are not prepared to take even a tiny risk, knowing that the risk of infection is limited by everyone else.

    This latter view is a type of spectrum bias – by never being exposed to the actual diseases, they under-estimate the risk of disease and over-estimate the risk of vaccines.

    When I was doing my emergency medicine training in the 1980s, we were drilled to recognise sick children with epiglottitis (caused by Haemophilus influenzae type B, HiB) – which could obstruct an airway suddenly. We had all sorts of protocols and procedures about how to recognise and treat these kids.

    Once HiB vaccination became routine, epiglottitis in children disappeared. Younger trainees and specialists have never seen it. No change in sanitation or standards of living – just the vaccine.

  3. WarOnMugs
    March 8, 2016 at 11:27 am #

    This piece starts out with a bunch of good, if well-known points, but when it comes to the solution misses the boat altogether. Attacking these parents as being “selfish” or “egotistical” or “privileged” won’t have the desired effect. This will make these people feel further emboldened by their so-called defiance, and make them circle the wagons and dig in.

    I don’t have the solution. I have family members who hold these misguided beliefs. People who love their kids, are not any more egotistical or privileged than anyone else, but they just fundamentally mistrust mainstream medicine and science. There has to be some way to work with people in a positive way to help them understand the benefits. But I’m more and more of the feeling that laws mandating some vaccines might be the only way forward. There is really no convincing some people.

    • DJEB
      May 4, 2016 at 1:58 pm #

      Yes, but everything makes them feel emboldened and dig in.

    • June 28, 2016 at 12:23 am #

      one option is the pocket book:

      Health insurers are rightly vilified for seeking savings at the risk of patient health, but what if parents of unvaccinated children were NOT covered for any ensuing hospitalizations? I’m not saying deny the kids hospital care, I’m suggesting that Corey & Kiley Privilege ought to pay the $10,000 bill out of their own pocket.

      The thing is, health insurance is a contract that no one ever reads. There might be pressure on state legislatures to outlaw the practice, but health insurers pretty much get what they pay, oh, sorry, ask for.

      It might give rise to a cottage industry of doctors willing to perjure themselves, but if there’s no previous record of an immunization & no billing on the claimed date-of-service, it looks pretty suspicious.

      • Ozlsn
        January 27, 2019 at 4:59 pm #

        I also favour pocketbook pressure but I would prefer higher premiums. You certainly have the choice to not vaccinate your child, as you do to smoke, but your premiums will increase by this amount per month. Your child may well be protected by community immunity, but at least the costs are covered if they do get sick. In Australia, which has socialised healthcare, the pocketbook pressure is federally by making eligibilty for a childcare payment dependent on being up to date with vaccines (only exemptions are children with medical reasons who have to be signed off by an MD, you can also get a letter from a GP stating that your child is currently behind due to x but here is the schedule to get them up to date – this was done partly because of kids coming into Australia from countries with different schedules and is followed up, ie if you haven’t followed it they will cut payments) and at a state level by making childcare centres and kindergartens require up to date vaccination status. It’s amazing how many people got their children up to date when they realised they would be out of pocket if they didn’t. (Also the number of “don’t judge me but I had to get my child vaccinated – how do I detox them?” posts was hilarious.)

    • Sue
      January 27, 2019 at 11:00 pm #

      The `No Jab No Pay` strategy in Australia, which withholds a portion of government family payments if the children are not fully vaccinated, was enacted into law in 2015 (Social Services Legislation Amendment (No Jab, No Pay) Bill). The major change from previous strategy was that `conscientious objections` were no longer accepted, and medical exemptions were tightened,

      There was initial controversy as there was some thought that this was `punishing the poor`, but the result has been a big increase in kids being fully vaccinated, with no apparent increase in adversity:

      As a result, I support this sort of strategy (bearing in mind that Australia has an accessible universal health care system and many social support structures).

      • Daleth
        January 28, 2019 at 10:21 am #

        I love that law. Yes, let’s “punish the poor” by ensuring their kids won’t get horrific diseases.

    • Daleth
      January 28, 2019 at 10:26 am #

      Subtle peer pressure seems to work the best of all the options I’ve read about. Subtle in the sense that it’s not angry and confrontational, since anger just provokes anger back. What seems to work best is a quieter disapproval and ostracizing. Sending the message that you feel people who don’t vax their kids are stupid and inferior, but you’re too polite to say that to their face, so instead you just make a couple of oblique remarks and distance yourself.

      For instance, it can help to act like you assume a certain friend of yours must have vaccinated their kids because only stupid people don’t. If you haven’t had the vaccination conversation with a particular friend, so you suspect they don’t vax but that fact isn’t out in the open between you yet, then you can talk to them as if you assume obviously they must be pro-vax. These measles headlines could prompt you to say something withering about how ignorant those Washington State antivax parents are — but you say it as if you assume that your friend supports vaccination. Make it embarrassing for her to admit that she doesn’t.

    • Nick Sanders
      February 29, 2016 at 1:31 pm #

      Obviously, when it comes to interactions between people who actually have been targeted and exploited by more powerful outsiders, especially in severe and ongoing ways, and more outsiders coming in, regardless of their intentions or actions, it’s going to get a lot more complicated, and there is going to be plenty of suspicion. However, the original context of this article, as part of a series related to the Disneyland outbreak posted a year ago, made it clear this was talking about anti-vaxxers in America specifically, and to a lesser extent the rest of the industrialized nations in general.

  4. Roadstergal
    February 29, 2016 at 10:58 am #

    OT – I’m catching up with the Fresh Air podcast, and over the weekend listened to the interview with the paramedic-author of A Thousand Naked Strangers. Terry asked him about his calls to attend an unexpected childbirth, and I had to note how he described it – “These women are enduring a natural childbirth, so they’re not happy to see anyone, let alone me.” He also mentioned that it’s a horrible mess, and “Hospitals are really good at that.” I just imagined the NCB/HB folk having aneurisms (and then having to call a paramedic).

  5. Gatita
    February 27, 2016 at 2:55 pm #

    Relevant: How many replication studies are enough?

  6. Linda Rosa
    February 27, 2016 at 2:24 pm #

    This week, the Colorado House health committee discussed a bill that would only move keeping track of vaccinated school children from the schools to the state department of health.

    But it brought out so many anti-vax people who wanted to testify about the dangers of vaccination that the hearing lasted some 8 hours. When these people got around to talking about the bill, they mainly claimed that the change in venue would compromise their privacy, although they weren’t worried at all about talking in public about their beliefs or having their testimony broadcast live (later to be available online), or about dragging their children along to the hearing.

    We heard over and over that they are the “most well informed” parents about vaccines, that they don’t want reminders to vaccinate their children, and that they don’t trust government with the records.

    Unfortunately, the child welfare organizations trying to promote vaccination in our (poorly-vaccinated) state refuse to get the message that more education will only backfire, as research has shown. They need to revoke the belief exemptions like California has done. We have endemic pertussis now…so I don’t know what it will take.

    • BeatriceC
      February 27, 2016 at 2:28 pm #

      It was the Disneyland outbreak that made the difference in California, I think. There were large scale pertussis outbreaks throughout the state before and after that, and it didn’t seem to make a difference. But linking the tourist industry (and the resulting economic factors) to disease got their attention.

      • Roadstergal
        February 29, 2016 at 10:48 am #

        The Disneyland outbreak also was the impetus for Jon Stewart to make one of the best analogies for vaccination I have heard yet.

    • February 28, 2016 at 2:40 am #

      It will take a major outbreak, with fatalities. I hate to say it, but only when the advances of the last century or so have been erased, and anti-vax parents begin to live in fear, will they change their minds. Having never experienced what it was like before vaccines, they cannot imagine a scenario where getting the disease is worse than the chance of side effects to the vaccine.

      • Martin Johncox
        February 28, 2016 at 3:50 am #

        I’m afraid that won’t work. They’ll just dig in deeper with conspiracy theries, saying the US government created all these diseases thousands of years ago and if you were “educated” like them you’d be enlightened. We just need to protect ourselves as a herd and exclude these people from society as much as possible in a civil democracy. Bringing back some of the ancient revulsion of diseased people might help – “If you haven’t been vaccinated, I don’t want to be anywhere near you!” – but that opens other ugly prejudices about disease. Those who show contempt for the herd by endangering it, have no place in it.

        • The Computer Ate My Nym
          February 28, 2016 at 5:39 am #

          the US government created all these diseases thousands of years ago

          How did a 200 some year old government create diseases thousands of years ago? I know it’s not your opinion, but I’m curious as to how this conspiracy theory works.

          • Who?
            February 28, 2016 at 6:01 am #

            As certain would be politicians prove every day, if you say something loudly and often, it becomes true, at least to certain constituents and followers.

            This currency of this conspiracy theory may be a case in point.

          • The Computer Ate My Nym
            February 28, 2016 at 7:26 am #

            The big lie.

          • Martin Johncox
            February 28, 2016 at 8:30 pm #

            If you’re trying to make sense of conspiracy theories, I wish you luck. The whole point is to state things so outrageous that countering them seems more stupid than the conspiracy itself.

          • The Computer Ate My Nym
            February 29, 2016 at 2:53 am #

            Beautiful. But Obama IS a shape-shifting tarantula! I read it on the Internet so it’s true. Wake up sheeple!

            No, actually, Don’t wake the sheeple!

    • Roadstergal
      February 29, 2016 at 10:59 am #

      “they don’t trust government with the records”

      And yet they trust the government with schooling. They always want to have it both ways.

    • Dr Kitty
      February 27, 2016 at 1:56 pm #

      It will prevent unnecessary doses of Anti-D AND it doesn’t have the issues regarding misattributed paternity of testing putative fathers and basing a decision on whether or not to give Anti-D based on his blood type.

      My father was his parents’ fourth child, and only the second that lived longer than a week. Two of my uncles died from HDN. People quickly forget that this was the reality for about 5% of couples in the UK before Anti-D.

      • Mattie
        February 27, 2016 at 2:24 pm #

        Awesome, my only concern is that is has the potential (as do all screening tests) of false negatives (so the baby could be RH+ but screen as RH-) is that risky for the mother?

        • Dr Kitty
          February 27, 2016 at 3:28 pm #

          Possible, but unlikely.
          False Rh -ve result will mean no anti-D- no risks to mother, but risks of HDN in future pregnancy.

          However, by not simply giving anti-D to every single Rh-vewomen you reduce a) cost and b) risks of giving antibodies to15% of pregnant women.

          • An Actual Attorney
            February 27, 2016 at 8:17 pm #

            What are the risks and costs? I’m rh-, and refused rhogam with my first because I was absolutely sure the sperm donor was negative. The ob wasn’t happy about that, and I have questioned myself in hindsight. My second is a donated embryo and I have just been given the shots. No mention of testing her.

          • Dr Kitty
            February 28, 2016 at 7:20 am #

            Rhogam is made from human plasma. Allergic reactions are possible, but rare. In the past there were cases of viral infections from Anti-D injections, and there is a theoretical risk of prion diseases, but all the safety steps in the modern manufacturing process make this very unlikely.

          • Dr Kitty
            February 28, 2016 at 7:26 am #

            Each dose costs the NHS about £30, so that is about £100 extra per Rh-ve woman. Not a lot individually, but it mounts up.

          • An Actual Attorney
            February 28, 2016 at 9:05 am #

            Interesting. Of course you have to subtract the cost of the tests from the savings. I find it interesting that I had cvs testing and I assume they could have tested for rh factor at that point, but didn’t. I would think a private insurance company would be all over that.

          • Box of Salt
            February 27, 2016 at 10:00 pm #

            I’m negative and have had multiple Rhogams due to pregnancy losses. If I recall correctly both kiddos were tested + (as is their dad) before I got it after their births.

          • Kelly
            February 28, 2016 at 8:45 pm #

            My kids were tested too. They are all RH- as well and so I did not get the second shot.
            Edited to add: My husband has no idea what his blood type is because he can’t give blood due to his birth in a country that had a Mad Cow disease outbreak. I get the shot to protect my future babies and always ask what my kids blood type is to make sure I get the second shot if needed.

          • Mattie
            February 29, 2016 at 12:55 pm #

            AFAIK you can ask for blood typing to be done when you have any routine blood test 🙂 This blood test could be useful to you (if you’re somewhere where it’s available) cause you wouldn’t need to have the Rhogam unnecessarily 🙂

          • An Actual Attorney
            February 29, 2016 at 3:58 pm #

            The issue isn’t mom’s rh. It’s the baby’s, which takes more effort, expense, and some risk I assume.

          • Mattie
            March 1, 2016 at 10:03 am #

            Yeh, sorry wasn’t hugely clear, it was a suggestion for Kelly’s husband who doesn’t know his blood type because he can’t donate blood 🙂 I do hope the new blood test becomes more widely available, I saw a lot of women who didn’t have good reactions to Rhogam, and if the administration of it can be more targeted that’s great.

          • Kelly
            February 29, 2016 at 4:24 pm #

            They told my mom that she would have to pay extra to get her blood type. I have tried to get my husband to go to the doctor but he is the stereotypical male and refuses to go to a yearly check up. I am working on him but it is just easier right now to get the shot.

  7. StephanieA
    February 27, 2016 at 10:41 am #

    OT question: potty training a boy…when? Boy is 2y4mo and has zero interest. He tells us when he needs his diaper changed, but doesn’t tell us before he goes. We ask him if he would like to use the potty instead of diapers, and he always chooses diapers. Maybe I’m a lazy parent, but I’m thinking of just waiting until he shows us he is ready. My reasons for this are 1, he doesn’t seem to show interest and still wakes up soaked, and 2, he is extremely stubborn and strong willed (if he knows we really want him to do something, he will fight us- teeth brushing is a battle every night). I wasn’t worried about potty training until a read a sanctimommy comment on Facebook stating how she trained her 22 month old boys, and those of us who don’t are lazy.

    • The Bofa on the Sofa
      February 27, 2016 at 10:48 am #

      I have a friend who didn’t even start trying until her boys turned three.

      Our older guy started later (almost 3, probably) and our younger guy was going already at 20 months.

      Everyone is different.

      Seriously, how little must you have in your life to make your kids potty training your accomplishment?

    • demodocus
      February 27, 2016 at 11:07 am #

      My boy is 1 month younger and besides occasionally sitting on the toilet, he has almost zero interest. He doesn’t even tell us he needs a change. What we are doing is we got a potty seat a few months ago and anytime toddlerboy asks we help him get his pants and diaper off and let him sit. So far nothing, but we’ll make a big deal for the first several times it happens. Right now he just likes flushing the toilet.

      A friend with 3 older kids and 1 kid our boys’ age has quite a range, from 3 1/2 to about 20-22 months. (She was pleasantly surprised by her youngest doing that). None of her boys were as young as ours when they got trained. Ignore the sanctimommy.

    • Rachele Willoughby
      February 27, 2016 at 11:24 am #

      I had two boys train on their 4th birthday (they were definitely being stubborn in both cases) and one who trained shortly after 3yo.

    • Dinolindor
      February 27, 2016 at 11:39 am #

      Toilet training is a sham! Changing a diaper is so much easier and less stressful than having to clean up (or have a toddler “clean up”) a toilet or entire bathroom if things go really crazy. Don’t worry about it. I tried training my son at 2y9mo and it just did not happen. I put away his new underwear and my husband gave it a go just before his 3rd birthday and it was relatively painless (like took a weekend to get the basics down, but then took awhile before he was totally self sufficient in the bathroom). I think having someone with the same equipment to show him was really beneficial for our stubborn and willful boy. Also, stay dry overnight is a biological function that you just need to wait out until he’s matured enough for his brain to recognize his bladder is full and he’d better wake up.

      I’m planning on waiting as long as possible to toilet train my daughter. That person can stuff it.

      • StephanieA
        February 27, 2016 at 11:59 am #

        I have two in diapers, and it really doesn’t bother me! I don’t have to make emergency pit stops due to a toddler who can’t hold it, and with a new baby I don’t want to push something toddler isn’t ready for. It just doesn’t help that my MIL keeps dropping hints that he needs to be toilet trained.

        • February 27, 2016 at 12:25 pm #

          I think there is some kind of passive-aggressive training academy that all mothers-in-law attend prior to the birth of the first grandchild.

          • Dinolindor
            February 27, 2016 at 1:09 pm #

            I think you’re onto something. I try to remember that one day I’ll most likely be a MIL to someone and cut mine some slack, but that’s probably like day 1 of the training: “Forget what it’s like to be the DIL.”

          • Amazed
            February 27, 2016 at 1:22 pm #

            There is this joke here… A DIL kept a diary with all the things her MIL did wrong, insulting her and causing her grief. She kept it for the purpose of reading it one day and NOT be this MIL. When her son got wed, she took the diary out, read it and after a long time sighed, “Oh how right my MIL was!”

            The other one goes like an adage. “DILs of today are like MILs from my day!”

          • Dinolindor
            February 27, 2016 at 1:29 pm #

            Now that I’m a tiny bit more experienced in being a mother (and I mean tiny, my oldest is only 5), I have realized just how hard I was being on my MIL at first. Part of it was I was so hyper-focused on details of taking care of my son as a baby and couldn’t see how little a lot of it mattered, and part of it was just not having much in common with my “I retired when I had my first baby” MIL at first. My husband jokes that I’m her BFF now, and often act as a mediator when there’s some stress between family members and her. But then she gives my son grief about his hair being too long and doesn’t he want to be handsome – my 5 year old whose hair never gets longer than half-way down his ears *by his own choice* and is the handsomest kid in the world thankyouverymuch, and…yeah. Into the diary it goes. 😉

          • StephanieA
            February 27, 2016 at 2:17 pm #

            I really got lucky with my in laws, they’re pretty awesome. Laid back and not pushy- the potty training comments are one of the very few things she says that irritate me. My parents are another story.

        • cookiebaker
          February 27, 2016 at 9:24 pm #

          That is the part that sucks about post-potty training! Teeny tiny bladders need to be emptied really frequently and ALWAYS when it’s least convenient for the parent.

    • February 27, 2016 at 12:23 pm #

      Mine will be 3 in May. We have had the potty for almost a year. It’s just been sitting there and we haven’t been pushing. He knows what it is for and has occasionally wanted to sit on it. Just this week he has started asking to sit on it when he actually has to go, and successfully using it. We got him some training underwear ( the extra padded kind) and have been letting him wear them when we’ll be staying at home. He is off to a good start but is definitely not ready for prime time (or leaving the house in underwear).

      I think it helps that a few of his day care friends have recently stopped using diapers.

    • Dr Kitty
      February 27, 2016 at 2:06 pm #

      There is training and “training” (which just means taking them out of nappies and dealing with accidents daily).
      I tried when my daughter was just over two and a half. Big nope.
      Three months later, when she was ready, and had picked out her (pink) potty and (pink, glittery) big girl pants, she was potty trained during the day over a weekend, and I can count the number of “accidents” on one hand.

      For night times, I just put her in pull ups and stopped using them when I realised they were always dry in the mornings (she was about 3 and a half). Again, I can count bed wetting episodes on one hand.

      So I say wait until your kid is interested and involved, and it is almost hassle free. Although I will say that I have yet to potty train a boy, and they are supposed to be harder.

      • February 28, 2016 at 2:55 am #

        I think boys ARE more difficult, and moreover, that there are two aspects to training. One is simple physiological readiness. No amount of early “training” will succeed if the child does not yet have the ability to physically control the necessary muscles and nerves, and this varies widely between children. Trying to force a child who isn’t ready will, IMO, just increase stress and guilt, and makes accidents more likely and more upsetting, and that creates a vicious cycle.

        What I saw with mine, was that, in daycare, when they saw other children using a potty, or the scaled-down toilets, they were at first curious, then motivated to imitate them. They had an example to follow. I think it’s also harder with a first child. Second and subsequent children have their older siblings to give them an example.

    • February 27, 2016 at 2:34 pm #

      Mine used diapers and pull ups until he was three, and for the second half of that year he was only using pull ups by request for poops and overnight. At exactly four we all agreed (including him) that pull ups were only for night time and then a couple months later we ran out of night time ones and he never went back. We were pretty low key about the whole thing, only pushed him when he started preschool and had to be in underpants a few hours a week at 3

    • BeatriceC
      February 27, 2016 at 2:54 pm #

      Every kid is different. My oldest was about two and a half (I don’t remember exactly…that kid is 16 now) when he potty trained. He was already showing signs he was ready (telling me his diaper was wet, waking up dry, asking to use the toilet, etc), I had 6 month old baby and I found out I was pregnant again. One day I realized I didn’t have a back up package of diapers for the oldest and when I ran out I told him “whoops, the diaper fairy must think you really are ready to use the toilet! She didn’t bring any more diapers for you!” I put underwear on him instead of another diaper and he had maybe two accidents over the next week, and that was that. I think he just needed a reason to not use diapers, but since he was on the young side, I hadn’t pushed him until that point. My middle kid was a lot closer to three and my youngest was three and a half for daytime and much, much older (won’t say how old for his privacy) for night time.

    • guest
      February 27, 2016 at 2:57 pm #

      My boy is 3 and has no interest. 🙁 His twin sister is progressing, but slowly.

    • Old Lady
      February 27, 2016 at 4:50 pm #

      I have no answers for you but I feel your pain. I wanted to get the twins done before new baby but they just aren’t interested and we’ve been trying on and off since they were 2 1/2. I’m just hoping we can manage it over the summer or they won’t be able to do the activities I have planned for the fall.

    • Amber Tenoever
      February 27, 2016 at 5:25 pm #

      I wouldn’t worry too much about it. My daughter was potty trained at 15 months while her older brother was closer to 3 and one of her younger brothers was 2. All kids are different. But if you’re really concerned just talk to his pediatrician about it. Two of my younger sister had problems being potty trained and it turned out that they had medical issue. So it never hurts to ask.

    • Azuran
      February 27, 2016 at 5:25 pm #

      My coworker’s son only started using the potty somewhere between 3-4. He used the toilet to pee, but wouldn’t use it for number 2.
      She didn’t rush him. She used some positive reinforcement, like buying ‘big boy’ underwears with dinosaurs and superheroes on them, as well a a few toys, that she put in a box and told him he would get them when he was using the toilet. But it still took months.
      He’ll get it eventually. But I have many parent friends who say that little boys take longer.

    • Mishimoo
      February 27, 2016 at 6:07 pm #

      My daughters toilet-trained at 2.5 years old, my son will be 3 in July and is only interested in using the potty part time. He’s currently at the ‘Offended by his body deciding to urinate’ stage. “How dare you, I was busy and I liked those undies!! They are meant to be dry and I only want those ones but also I do not want to go to the toilet.” He’ll get there and so will your kiddo.

    • cookiebaker
      February 27, 2016 at 9:18 pm #

      4 of my 6 are potty trained so far, of the 4 that have been trained, 2 are girls, 2 are boys. Hands down, the boys were easier! My youngest was 21 months, the oldest was 4. It’s really up to the kid’s personality, so a sanctimommy bragging on early training is like bragging on an easy birth, you just got lucky.

      There’s no point in trying until they show interest. It can be forced younger, but at enormous parental effort and tons of accidents after they’re “trained.” Once they’re interested, you can be done in 2 days with very few accidents. It’s like when you’re trying to get a baby to go to sleep, you can try to rock them to sleep any time you want, but they won’t actually sleep until they’re darn well good and ready, so you might as well wait until they show signs they’re tired before you try.

      I’m a fan of naked potty training. I set little floor potties all over the house and let the little guy run around naked. If they start to pee on the floor, I pick them up and put them on the potty. They make the association pretty quick. If they were wearing a diaper (or pull-up, training pants, underwear, etc), they’d use it, so I had to take it all away.

      Good luck!

      • StephanieA
        February 28, 2016 at 2:04 pm #

        Two of my friends have trained their boys by letting them run around naked. When I let mine he pees on the floor on purpose because he thinks it’s funny and knows that it’s the opposite of what we want him to do- he’s stubborn!

        • guest
          February 28, 2016 at 3:13 pm #

          My son freaks out if he doesn’t have a diaper on, because even though I dreaded pee (or worse) on my carpets, I thought we could try that. He is just super anxious about having an accident even though he’s never had one before, and I’ve been very positive with his sister with a few she had (no yelling, no shaming – you know, everyone has some accidents). I’m taking as a sign that he’s just not ready, but I am so ready to stop spending so much money on diapers, wipes, and diaper pail liners.

        • Kelly
          February 28, 2016 at 8:58 pm #

          My daughter was almost three when she fully potty trained and she did not care about peeing her pants until I started baby sitting an older girl. Every time she peed her pants, I made her clean it up, change her clothes, and then she had to stay in her room for about ten minutes. She hated the idea of not being able to play with her friend and within two days, she was completely potty trained. When she regressed recently, I told her she would not be allowed to go to Kindergarten. She is very social and so taking those away were what made her finally care about the consequences of peeing her pants. I had tried every single thing, stickers, candy, taking things away, positive praise, making her clean it up, and nothing else worked. My second daughter is about the same age as your son and I have not even started because it took forever to train her older sister. My mom says that it took me until I was almost four to potty train because I was stubborn. My friend waited until both of her kids were almost three and they potty trained in a weekend. I would wait. You will know when he will be ready and you will save your sanity.

      • ElaineF
        February 29, 2016 at 7:39 pm #

        Meh, I don’t agree necessarily about waiting for them to show interest. I think it depends on the kid. My daughter was closing in on 3, talking in complete sentences, telling us when she’d used her diaper, with no interest whatsoever in the potty, when I took matters into my own hands and declared she was done with diapers. We had about a day of screaming and crying and peeing on the floor and demanding a diaper, and then it started to click and she started to use the potty and then started to declare “I’m too big for diapers.” I now think if we’d gone bare bottoms months earlier with her we could have gotten her trained. I’m debating trying it with our son who just turned 2. Maybe when it warms up a bit and we can do it outside; cleaning up puddles gets old really fast.

    • Tumbling
      February 28, 2016 at 8:34 pm #

      When I was much younger, I worked in an early childcare unit. The woman who took care of the 2 1/2-to-3-year olds decided one day that she was tired of changing diapers, and potty trained the hold-outs in her group (about 1/3 of the kids) in a single afternoon. It was astonishing to watch.

      She used peer pressure: she gathered all the kids together in their afternoon play circle and asked, “who is wearing big boy / big girl pants?” The potty trained kids proudly showed off their elastic bands at the tops of their undies. The other kids looked wildly jealous and demanded underwear of their own.

      It really worked, too! I know because she was ill the next week and I took over her group. There were a few accidents but all of them were determined to be big boys / girls.

    • The Computer Ate My Nym
      February 29, 2016 at 3:57 am #

      I don’t know if this anecdote is of any help or not, but…When my sister’s oldest was about 2 or so she started to try to potty train him. He wasn’t having any of it. She asked my father what he remembered about training us and he said, “Oh, you both had it by the time you were two.” Then she asked my mother who said, “I don’t know what kids HE was raising, but YOU weren’t fully trained without accidents until you were more like 3.” In short, Sanctimommy probably doesn’t remember how old her kids were when they were trained or she’s exaggerating. They may have first successfully used the potty at 22 months, for example.

      I’m afraid I have no good tips because mine just sort of did it herself. We put out a potty and gave her the basic idea and some encouragement and she eventually got it. I expect yours will do same when he’s ready.

      • demodocus
        February 29, 2016 at 8:01 am #

        i once asked my dad when he and mom started dating…i think he was wrong because there is no way my grandfather would have let a 20 year old date his 13 year old.

    • CSN0116
      February 29, 2016 at 7:54 am #

      Funny I’m reading this today. My only son (out of five kids) got potty trained this last week because his second birthday was impending. He turned 2 on Saturday! I have 4 of 5 trained now and I did them all at the same time – a couple weeks before the second birthday. And in the same way – hard core nakie training, the way my grandma taught me. We don’t leave the house for 3 days, start with timed trips but slowly back off the clock, place little potties everywhere, diapers get thrown out so there’s no looking back, I am firm, I use peer pressure (big sibs) and positive candy reinforcement. At the end of 3 days the victor gets to go to Target to pick out big kid undies.

      Everyone said my boy would be harder and later, but no. He just trained in 3 days like his sisters.

      • Who?
        February 29, 2016 at 6:40 pm #

        My kids pretty much did themselves just after their second birthdays-boy then girl. Announced they didn’t want to wear nappies, I said fine, but we’ll have to be careful of accidents, and it went well. We had a few close calls out and about, and the boy regressed when the girl was born, but got over it.

        That said my mother had been harassing me because the three of us were apparently ‘trained’ by our first birthdays-me and two brothers. I told her she was the trained one and I didn’t have the patience. She always claimed it was less work than washing nappies, and maybe it was, but I’m sure there were also lots of wet clothes and puddles, and worse.

    • Sue
      January 27, 2019 at 11:11 pm #

      Very few of those `developmental milestones` are worth agonising over – especially between ages 2 and 3, in a child who seems overall cognitively normal.

      It`s generally easier to give some latitude and wait until the child is ready to collaborate than battle against soiled clothing and bedding.

  8. Gene
    February 27, 2016 at 7:26 am #

    OT: this has been making the rounds recently and even showed up on a physician friend’s FB feed:

    There is so much wrong with it. Colostrum is NOT creamy. It’s thin and watery. I have a friend who used to try and change the color of her breastmilk by alters her diet. She could get it to turn almost every shade except blue. Scientists are a bit screwy. I never did it purposefully, but I always found it interesting when the shades changed and the fat content changed (I pumped while working, so had lots of bottles to compare). But I’m smart enough to know that orange breastmilk from eating carotene does not mean “scientific proof” of miracle milk.

    • CSN0116
      February 27, 2016 at 10:09 am #

      I wish lactivists got this narcissistically obsessed with how “incredible” their bodies are by spouting off about blood, organ, and tissue donation. Each of them should go off and hunt down a kidney match to make themselves living donors. It’ll be fun. They have this sick need to have their body needed in order to produce a superior person, so might as well put that mind fuck to good use. No discrepancies there – these types of donations actually save lives, versus having little to no effect on preventing some common colds 😛

    • guest
      February 27, 2016 at 10:14 am #

      My colostrum did actually appear creamy compared to the foremilk that came in later. I can see why someone would use that word.

      This reminds me of a friend of mine who has ingested various substances so that he could turn his urine different colors (beets, etc.). It’s not evidence of magic that you can change the color of bodily fluids. It just means you’ve ingested different stuff.

    • Azuran
      February 27, 2016 at 10:15 am #

      My pee concentration changes with how much water I drink.
      And when I eat asparagus is smells weird. Clearly my kidneys are magical.

    • The Bofa on the Sofa
      February 27, 2016 at 10:18 am #

      The end of the line for nursing for our young guy was when my wife’s milk turned green. Seriously, it looked like the color of a shamrock shake from McDonalds.

      Apparently, it didn’t taste well, either, because he quit breastfeeding that day. Wouldn’t take it. That was at 10 mo.

      Isn’t the human body wonderful?

    • Megan
      February 27, 2016 at 10:35 am #

      My milk changed color (more white vs more yellow) just based on how long I went between pumpings. If it had been a while there would be more foremilk and hence more white. If it hadn’t been that long, more hind ill and more yellow. It was also more yellow when I was dehydrated. I don’t think it was evidence of magic.

  9. Gatita
    February 26, 2016 at 10:02 pm #

    I’m rereading the Little House on the Prairie series and it’s harrowing to read about the diseases they caught. The whole family was almost killed by malaria, the eldest daughter was permanently blinded by what is believed to be viral meningoencephalitis, which can be caused by measles, varicella and HSV. And Laura Ingalls and her husband were almost killed by diphtheria, and her husband was permanently disabled and had to stop farming as a result. And of course they lived an all natural lifestyle with organic food and lots of outdoor living and exercise. Didnt protect them at all.

    • Spamamander
      February 26, 2016 at 10:28 pm #

      The part where the whole family is down with malaria and they have nobody to help until the black doctor happens by them always haunted the hell out of me.

      • The Computer Ate My Nym
        February 29, 2016 at 3:02 am #

        The race dynamics in the Little House books fascinate me. There’s an obvious large amount of early 20th century racism involved, including the protagonists more or less being okay with or openly advocating genocide. OTOH, if you read the books carefully, it seems to me that Wilder (or possibly her coauthor/editor Rose Wilder) thought that racism was a bunch of crap. Note that quite often people of minority race are portrayed positively, i.e. the doctor in the malaria story.

        • Ozlsn
          January 27, 2019 at 6:32 pm #

          Based on the biography of Ingalls Wilder which was released in 2017 (“Prairie Fires: The American Dreams of Laura Ingalls Wilder”) her daughter was very much to the alt-right side of things by the time she was editing the mid-late books. I suspect there was the background level of community racism going on which neither Ingalls Wilder nor her daughter were entirely aware of because it was so normalised, and then a whole lot of libertarian fantasy inserted by Wilder Lane which possibly didn’t help.
          I spent quite a bit of the second half of the book armchair diagnosing Wilder Lane with bipolar, despite not being a doctor×,-:, (or playing one on tV). It did make me wonder how different their lives would have been if they’d been born a century later – one of the saddest parts in the book for me was a letter written by one of Ingalls Wilder’s aunts where she admitted being jealous that her grand daughters and great-granddaughters had so much more access to education and opportunities.

    • Mad Hatter
      February 27, 2016 at 10:24 am #

      Well, they didn’t eat enough raw fruits and veggies. And they ate way too much salt pork and flour. They really would have been healthier on a paleo diet. That’s obviously how humans are supposed to eat. Guess their mistake was also living on the Prairie instead of a tropical climate, since they didn’t have refrigeration to get fresh food all year round. Its just never good enough!

      • Zornorph
        February 29, 2016 at 1:26 pm #

        And don’t forget, during the long winter, they only ate potatoes and coarse brown bread.

    • Old Lady
      February 27, 2016 at 5:04 pm #

      I was a big fan of historical fiction as a kid. Little House, Little Women, Anne of Green Gables etc. No way I would have ever turned out as anti-vac because of that. Speaking of Laura Ingalls Wilder, have you read her newly released autobiography? It’s really fascinating.

      • Kelly
        February 28, 2016 at 9:09 pm #

        What? I have to go get that now. I was obsessed with her as a child and I was so excited to see that one of my kids was born on her birthday. Off to Amazon I go.

  10. Mishimoo
    February 26, 2016 at 8:12 pm #

    Look at the effect of vaccines in our house this past two weeks: eldest daughter too old for the rotavirus vaccine had a few days off school, younger two who were vaccinated had a low grade fever for a day and then fine. Husband was mildly sick for a week, and I feel like I’ve been put through the wringer. Sure I need to lose some weight, but not like this.

  11. Carrie
    February 26, 2016 at 7:52 pm #

    I’d urge everyone to ask your primary care doctor to check your immunity to the MMR diseases, even if you had all your vaccines as a child. I did and it turned out my immunity had faded to two of the three. I’m safe now, after getting the adult booster shots for two years, but it’s scary to think I could have gotten pregnant and then gotten rubella.

    • February 27, 2016 at 12:28 pm #

      My RE checked my rubella immunity before starting fertility treatments. I don’t know if that’s standard practice but it seems like it ought to be.

      • seekingbalance
        February 27, 2016 at 11:12 pm #

        I recommend tests for rubella and varicella (chicken pox) immunity, among other things, in my patients who are planning a pregnancy, with or without fertility treatments. if they decline the test(s), I feel better if they can convince me that they had all their childhood immunizations and a raging case of chicken pox (for those who are older = the varicella vaccine didn’t exist in their childhood), but titers are preferred. 🙂

      • ElaineF
        February 29, 2016 at 7:42 pm #

        My nurse-midwives checked for those immunities at the first bloodwork in pregnancy. I imagine they’d test pre-conception if someone asked.

    • indigosky
      February 27, 2016 at 10:35 pm #

      Adults are supposed to have certain boosters too. I know I got a couple of shots when I turned 30. I don’t remember what, but I do know we talked about how pro-vax I am and how I wanted to make sure I was squared away on everything.

    • Jules B
      February 28, 2016 at 12:17 pm #

      Agreed! I had the MMR when I was a kid but it obviously wasn’t a good batch or something (it was the 1970’s), because I ended up getting the measles when I was 12. I was really really sick, too. No one thought to check my immunity to mumps or rubella at the time, though. It was only *after* I got pregnant with my daughter that my GP called me at home one day to tell me I had virtually no immunity to rubella – and to “avoid any little kids with rashes.” I mean, what else could he say? But that freaked me out a tad, to say the least. (I got the booster in the hospital almost immediately after giving birth.)

  12. Elizabeth Neely
    February 26, 2016 at 5:08 pm #

    some people are afraid of the side effects of vaccines. How people parent their children should be their own private decision.My son screamd for 12 hours after his first DPT so we waited until he was is 2nd grade. When he recieved his shots in 2nd grade, he had a severe reaction and spent time in a pediatric psychiatric ward. He obviously had a bad reaction. We had to forgo his immunizations for documented medical reasons. On the other side of the spectrum My oldest son never ever had a problem with them. Everyone is different and can have different reactions. Dont Judge.

    • The Bofa on the Sofa
      February 26, 2016 at 5:10 pm #

      How people parent their children should be their own private decision.

      But it’s not just your children. What you do with vaccination has an impact on the rest of society. Therefore, it IS our business.

    • Amazed
      February 26, 2016 at 5:15 pm #

      Bad thing is, other people have found themselves with no children to parent thanks to other people’s own private decisions. Feel free to support those parents’ private decision.


      I think they should be held liable. Responsible. Those morons killed two children due to being morons. They should have been sued for all they had and all they’d make in their lifetimes.

      You might be nonjudgmental and other cutesies but the first bitch who comes with her unvaccinated by her “informed choice” kid near my newborn niece without giving a warning in advance might leave with a few teeth less.

      Yes, I am disrespectful this way.

    • Who?
      February 26, 2016 at 5:48 pm #

      I’m sorry your second son went through that. He is now protected from VPIs by herd immunity.

    • LibrarianSarah
      February 26, 2016 at 5:59 pm #

      Since your kid has documented medical reasons for not being vaccinated you should be extra “judgmental” about people who refuse to vaccinate their kids because your kids health and his very life is at stake. Every parent that refuses to vaccinate their kid put’s your son’s life at risk. Keep that in mind next time you want to scold us for being “judgmental.”

      • Amazed
        February 26, 2016 at 11:03 pm #

        That’s my problem with the parents of children whose kids have legit reasons for not being vaxxed and who preach non-judgment. Do they want to be regarded the same as those who just don’t care and say, “As long as my kid is healthy and illnesses are at the other side of the boundary (aka herd immunity that you foods provide is still going strong), I won’t vax because side effects! My aunt has a cousin whose wife had a childhood friend whose husband’s former wife’s sister’s baby son turned autistic immediately after being given the vaccine!”? If so, I have no trouble regarding them the same leeches. They might have my compassion as parents of a child who is in greater danger than the rest of us but the tolerance they preach is misguided. The ideas – deadly.

        Sheesh, I guess they’re lucky that I and my fellow fools are big on taking the small risk of vaccinating to protect ourselves and those who are just weaker. You’ve certainly read the story about my late classmate since I’ve gotten regulars here bored to death with it but it’s still strong for me. I protect people like him and I protect the leeches. Pity that parents like Elizabeth Neely side with leeches who are more dangerous to her son than our horrifying readiness to judge their so private parental decisions.

        • Who?
          February 26, 2016 at 11:06 pm #

          You would think EN would be supporting people vaccinating, not making excuses for the paranoid and irresponsible.

          • Amazed
            February 26, 2016 at 11:08 pm #

            And saying that they’re just parents who are afraid, just like her.

            As far as I’m concerned, EN can shephard her kids and herself into the same internet-lacking, plumb-lacking, electricity-lacking cave I’d love to send all anti-vaxxers to. It’s clear that she feels more comfortable around them poor judged than us cruel judges.

          • Who?
            February 26, 2016 at 11:23 pm #

            I agree-hunting with the hounds while running with the foxes doesn’t generally go well.

            EN needs to pick a side.

            Parenting is about tough decisions at times. I was never happy submitting my kids to injections-they hurt at the time, and my son in particular was always miserable and even unwell after. But it was the right thing to do, and I did it. I don’t like the dentist either, and I hated taking them, but I knew they had to go so I got my big girl pants on and took them, with a smile on my face. That’s what adults do.

            I have all the respect in the world for finding something hard and doing it anyway-the bleating though, loses me.

          • Erin
            February 27, 2016 at 5:53 am #

            I’m rightly afraid given my own reaction to vaccines but my son gets all his because my father has cancer and there are children at some of our activities with immune system issues. Being nervous about potential reactions doesn’t give me the right to make someone else’s child seriously ill or dead.

    • Azuran
      February 26, 2016 at 6:00 pm #

      As you said, your child has documented medical reasons to not be vaccinated. So really no one is judging you.

    • swbarnes2
      February 26, 2016 at 6:23 pm #

      Pro-vaccine people strongly advocate everyone getting vaccines PRECISELY so that your child who is the very rare exception who probably shouldn’t get them can be safe. The Dr. Sears types are endangering your vulnerable kid.

    • guest
      February 26, 2016 at 7:46 pm #

      Still going to judge all the idiots, sorry.

    • Hilary
      February 26, 2016 at 7:57 pm #

      NO ONE is judging people who have medical reasons for not vaxxing. On the contrary, we are advocating for those who can’t be vaccinated to be protected by everyone else being vaccinated. The anti-vaxxers are lowering herd immunity and exposing the most vulnerable populations – infants too young to be vaccinated and the medically fragile of all ages – to disease. They’re the ones who don’t give a **** about your kid. You’d better believe I judge them.

    • ladyloki
      February 26, 2016 at 8:02 pm #

      When those people don’t vax, my daughter who is in remission from leukemia is susceptible. She was fully vaxxed before but now had no protection left. And I live on the border of Los Angeles and Orange counties, where they have had both measles and whooping cough en masse.

      Imagine being scared to take your child anywhere, even to the park across the street when there are no kids there. The local elementary school only had a 44% rate of Kindergartners coming in that are fully vaxxed, and that is up from previous years. So that means 56% of the kids in my neighborhood AT LEAST are able to get and transmit these diseases to my daughter and possibly kill her. She was in the hospital for a week due to a simple cold this past December.

      But I do take her places, because I don’t want her to feel like she has done anything wrong to be stuck at home all the time, but I feel like I’m playing Russian Roulette each time. Every sneeze, every cough puts us in panic mode. That is my life thanks to anti-vaxxers.

      So yes, I will judge and judge harshly. Anti-vaxxers don’t care about children like my daughter. It’s all about them, not about everyone they could hurt.

    • John Alan Read
      February 27, 2016 at 4:07 am #

      You are the exact person this article is about. Too damn important to get vaccines. “It’ll never happen to me.”

      If children can’t take peanut butter to school, then your children shouldn’t’ be taking preventable diseases.

    • demodocus
      February 27, 2016 at 5:44 am #

      Your kiddo has a legitimate reason to not be vaccinated. Doesn’t make you an anti-vaxxer, and most of us here realize that. My kid doesn’t have a problem with them, so he gets them to protect himself, your son, my sister (with Stage III cancer), my daughter-soon-to-be, and everybody else who is vulnerable for reasons beyond anyone’s control. (His parents are utd, too.) I judge the heck out of people who think Autism or hay fever are vaccine reactions.

    • tariqata
      February 27, 2016 at 3:00 pm #

      It’s also important to keep separate what’s a side effect of the vaccine, and what isn’t. Case in point: my son had his 6-month DTaP shot this week; the next day, we got to experience our very first trip to ER when he had a febrile seizure (he was fussing and I thought, gee, he feels a bit warm; he started convulsing while I was pulling out a thermometer). We are 99% sure that the fever was in response to the vaccine – he was checked for other signs of illness – and I can see how people might easily interpret the seizure as a vaccine reaction and be scared of future shots, especially when they’re caught up by fear and surprise (I knew what I was seeing, and I was terrified). But it wasn’t caused by the vaccine; it was caused by the fever, and since I now know this could happen again, I’d rather deal with a predictable and controllable fever in response to a vaccine than one caused by say, the flu.

      Some reactions are certainly a direct result of the vaccination itself, but it’s important that parents make their decisions based on sound information about the reasons for specific reactions.

  13. cookiebaker
    February 26, 2016 at 4:57 pm #

    I wonder if the children of anti-vaccers will grow up to be anti-vax or if they will decide to get themselves vaccinated and their children? My parents vaccinated their kids, so I followed the advice of my pediatrician and my parents example and vaccinated my kids. I’m just curious if the unvaccinated children will follow their parents example? Maybe they will experience the horror stories that our grandparents and great-grandparents lived through and they’ll see the light.

    I worry because my youngest children are too young to be fully vaccinated, yet. This anti-vax trend makes me crazy.

    • Hilary
      February 26, 2016 at 7:58 pm #

      I’m pretty sure all the children who remember suffering through months of untreated whooping cough will be pro-vaccine.

      • BeatriceC
        February 27, 2016 at 2:18 am #

        Don’t bet on it. While I’m sure a lot will, there are other kids, like the kid who most likely transmitted pertussis to my son bragged about he would be better off because he was getting a “natural immunity”. Now granted, we are talking about a kid who was at the time a high school freshman, and most likely just parroting what his parents were telling him, but he still suffered through it (and transmitted it to other kids), and was bragging about how it was better. Meanwhile, my fully vaccinated kid got it and brought it home, where he endangered the daughter of a friend who is medically contraindicated from vaccines. Thankfully everybody was fine at the end. My kid was started on the antibiotics immediately and was only extremely sick for about two weeks, though the cough lingered for months, and everybody in my household and the friend’s daughter were all put on prophylactic antibiotics. Nobody else got sick.

        • Dinolindor
          February 27, 2016 at 11:29 pm #

          If you think about it, it makes sense that you can’t count on kids of anti vaxx parents realizing their parents were wrong. When I take my son for his shots I talk about how it might hurt in the moment, but it’s better for him in the long run. While I’m talking about a few seconds and they’re talking about much longer crappy “hurting period,” the underlying point of the episode the kid has to endure is the same. They just add the “natural immunity” bs to the talk, and get many more opportunities to remind the kid that this crappy experience will have the end goal of “natural immunity” because of how long the illness lasts vs a few shots.

    • Gatita
      February 26, 2016 at 9:51 pm #

      Growing Up Unvaccinated: http://www.voicesforvaccines.org/growing-up-unvaccinated/

      As healthy as my lifestyle seemed, I contracted measles, mumps, rubella, a type of viral meningitis, scarlatina, whooping cough, yearly tonsillitis, and chickenpox, some of which are vaccine preventable. In my twenties I got precancerous HPV and spent 6 months of my life wondering how I was going to tell my two children under the age of 7 that mummy might have cancer before it was safely removed.

    • Mishimoo
      February 26, 2016 at 10:48 pm #

      My best friend grew up anti-vax and is now pro-vax, one sibling is unsure, another sibling vaccinated on a delayed schedule, while the rest of the family is anti-vax.

    • indigosky
      February 27, 2016 at 10:39 pm #

      There was that thing where a girl got a bunch of vaccinations that she paid for with her own money, and her mom was trying to ask on Reddit who she could sue for letting her 16 year old get those vaccinations. Wonder where she got her brains, they certainly were not from mom and dad.


  14. demodocus
    February 26, 2016 at 1:55 pm #

    Many anti-vaxxers are indeed bright and they do look stuff up, but they are ruled by fear of what they don’t truly understand. I’ve never read a whale to article to judge for myself, but there are certainly red flags to watch out for, and more often than not those flags are on the anti-vaxxer articles rather than the pro-vax ones.
    Not that *I* understand immunology any better, but as I’ve mentioned before, I don’t have to look nearly as far as they do to see someone who has been permanently affected by a formerly common childhood illness.

  15. Anonymous
    February 26, 2016 at 1:48 pm #

    My family of origin went strongly antivax when I was a child in the late 90s. When my own child was born, I was terrified of vaccinating her even though I had acquired my own scientific credentials (admittedly not in the life sciences) and understood that the misinformation spread by the anti-vaccination movement is objectively false. It wasn’t logical, but as someone who hadn’t really seen vaccine preventable illnesses, my fear of the immediate surpassed my fear of the potential. My daughter was vaccinated on schedule and is now well on her way to being fully vaccinated with no ill effect. With each vaccination, my fear has decreased. The rest of my family remain steeped in woo and continue to feel superior. Any illness, allergy or medical condition my child may deal with in the future will be attributed to vaccination by my family.

    The longer the anti-vaccination movement thrives, the more children of anti-vaxers will have children of their own and be forced to face (or bow to) the fear of vaccination instilled by decisions their parents made out of privilege, defiance and ego. To these parents coming from a place of fear who are themselves children of anti-vaxers, education can make a difference. It made a difference for me. Twice, I was carefully counseled by providers. The first time, while I was pregnant. I was still afraid when I consented to those first vaccines, but I consented.

  16. AirPlant
    February 26, 2016 at 1:36 pm #

    OT, but my friend found out last night that her husband has been cheating on her with a wide assortment of women for almost the entirety of their marriage. She is a SAHM with two kids, the youngest is only nine months. For ten years she thought she had a perfect marriage and for the four I have known her I have agreed.

    She is the crunchiest person that I know, so it is probably not fair that I am thinking this way, but right now I am glad for all the practical pro-science things that I know about her. She might post links about the microbiome and skin to skin and extended breastfeeding on facebook, but she and her children are fully vaccinated and she gave birth in a modern hospital with all the bells and whistles.
    It is bad enough that she is at the clinic right now finding out if her husband gave her Chlamydia, but imagine if she had to worry that her sweet (breastfed) baby could have contracted hepatitis. Imagine if she had given some of her freezer stash to a friend. Imagine if she turned down the testing and the eye goop because she was in a happy marriage and her little girl was blinded.
    My heart is absolutely breaking for her and her children and I shouldn’t be thinking about the politics of mommy bloggers and medicine, but I am grateful that she has faith in medicine and I am grateful that I know her children are safe.

    • Mishimoo
      February 26, 2016 at 10:52 pm #

      So, so sorry for your friend and her munchkins. That is incredibly unfair and such a tough thing to deal with, especially being a SAHM. What an absolutely selfish prick!! Argh!

      • Who?
        February 26, 2016 at 11:25 pm #

        Yup. All that.

      • AirPlant
        February 27, 2016 at 9:48 am #

        The whole thing is completely enragingly heartbreaking. We are going to see each other today and I just feel completely helpless. I just want my mom there to give her experienced woman of the world find the strength within pep talks, but she only has me and I just want to cry.

        • Who?
          February 27, 2016 at 5:40 pm #

          Don’t assume your mum wouldn’t be crying with her-there is no good advice for your friend at the moment, apart from ‘get a checkup’ which she has already done.

          She needs support and care while she builds her confidence and her new life.

          • An Actual Attorney
            February 27, 2016 at 8:44 pm #

            It’s horrible all around. I hope she’s also been to the best damn divorce lawyer she can afford.

          • Who?
            February 27, 2016 at 9:00 pm #

            Amen to that.

        • Mishimoo
          February 27, 2016 at 5:54 pm #

          Crying is good! At this point, its probably what she needs. Grab some chocolate and maybe wine, let her talk and cry and then start figuring out where to go from here. It’s all so awful 🙁

    • Amazed
      February 27, 2016 at 9:54 am #

      I can’t even imagine. One day you have it all and then BAM! It isn’t there. It never was. And what a way to find out about it. I guess it all came out into the light because she noticed a symptoms that he might have infected her?

      Terrible. And yes, I can see why you’re glad that at least she and her kids are safe from VPD.

      As an aside: that’s one of the reasons I am against informal milk sharing. You might trust a friend but it’s at least one other person you must show trust in and sometimes, they just aren’t deserving.

    • Gatita
      February 27, 2016 at 10:40 am #

      That is why the milk sharing people drive me crazy. Microorganisms don’t only infect “bad” people. There are plenty of women who learned the hard way that their partners were HIV positive. Just because someone seems nice and you’ve known them for years doesn’t mean they don’t have a communicable disease!

      • demodocus
        February 27, 2016 at 10:56 am #

        My sister had a boyfriend who was a nice, clean-cut marine. He didn’t know he had gotten HIV from his previous girlfriend (who was also a nice person) He got medically discharged and unfortunately commited suicide. Fortunately for sib, she was still abstaining from sex.

        • Gatita
          February 27, 2016 at 2:53 pm #

          Oh that’s awful! What a sad story.

      • Marie
        February 27, 2016 at 6:52 pm #

        It drives me nuts too! There’s a new post floating around my FB about friends breastfeeding each other’s babies. All the “natural mamas” are gushing over it. Ugh.

    • February 27, 2016 at 12:40 pm #

      Oh, that’s horrible. But you’re right – it’s yet another circumstance in which we can be grateful for modern science and preventive medicine. Things are very bad for your friend and my heart goes out to her, but like you said, she doesn’t have to worry about infecting her baby with hepatitis.

  17. Kathleen
    February 26, 2016 at 1:34 pm #

    Don’t forget those ‘crunchy’ types who also believe that natural automatically equals better, despite evidence to the contrary (I have a friend who fits all of yours, but the TOP reason she would not vaccinate – although I think she does all of them on a delayed schedule) would be because it’s less natural than acquired immunity from getting, say, chicken pox. This is the same friend that, despite several doctors telling her that a planned c-section instead of a VBAC after her hellacious emergency c-section where they all thought she would hemorrhage and need a hysterectomy and her baby was premature by 7 weeks, insisted on finding a doctor who would let her go through with a VBAC (in a hospital, thank goodness) and only then it was a reluctant permission, probably because he knew she’d just find someone else or do it at home. It turned out just fine, luckily, but to her anything that she considers ‘natural’ is automatically better than anything else.

  18. Brooke
    February 26, 2016 at 1:26 pm #

    Measles didn’t come roaring back. The Disneyland strain was from the Philippines which was experiencing an outbreak of a strain that was not endemic to the US. No one from that outbreak died. The large outbreak in the year prior to that was in an Amish community that doesn’t have the internet so I doubt they are capable of reading your criticisms. All viruses that we vaccinate against occasionally come back, not because we don’t vaccinate enough but because vaccines are not even close to 100% effective, strains mutate etc

    • lilin
      February 26, 2016 at 1:30 pm #

      “All viruses that we vaccinate against occasionally come back, not because we don’t vaccinate enough but because vaccines are not even close to 100% effective, strains mutate etc”

      Remember your last reply, when you asked about why polio didn’t come “roaring” back because the vaccine had eradicated it?

      Oh, Brooke. I’m sorry. It’s not fair to ask you to keep track of your thoughts.

      • Sullivan ThePoop
        February 26, 2016 at 3:31 pm #

        I think it was smallpox she was asking about.

        • Roadstergal
          February 26, 2016 at 5:38 pm #

          Yup. And smallpox didn’t come roaring back because we DID vaccinate enough. A lot of often-contentious vaccination.

    • MaineJen
      February 26, 2016 at 2:04 pm #

      That’s your argument? “No one died?” Well that’s cool, I guess. A bunch of people got sick who didn’t have to, with an illness that could have killed an immunocompromised person, but you know, no one died, so it’s all good.


    • indigosky
      February 26, 2016 at 2:15 pm #

      So I guess pain and suffering and worry if your child is going to be OK is just a walk in the park. What happens if someone had died. I bet you are one of those people who just brush off death as “God’s Will.”

    • The Bofa on the Sofa
      February 26, 2016 at 2:41 pm #

      “Mercy me!” cried Cayke, addressing the Patchwork Girl. “However did you come alive?”

      Scraps stared at the bears.

      “Mercy me!” she echoed, “You are stuffed, as I am, with cotton, and you appear to be living. That makes me feel ashamed, for I have prided myself on being the only live cotton-stuffed person in Oz.”

    • Sullivan ThePoop
      February 26, 2016 at 3:20 pm #

      Measles only has only ever had one serotype. So, your fantasies about mutant measles can be tossed right out the window. Also, we will not know if anyone died from that outbreak for at least 10 years. I think you forgot about SSPE

    • Azuran
      February 26, 2016 at 4:29 pm #

      The fact that it affected only unvaccinated kids in my community is totally a coincidence.

    • Box of Salt
      February 26, 2016 at 5:47 pm #

      There are no measles strains endemic to the US. All the recent outbreaks have been imported.

    • Who?
      February 26, 2016 at 5:52 pm #

      It’s pretty poor when the best you can say is ‘no one died’.

    • guest
      February 26, 2016 at 7:53 pm #

      But someone did die. It doesn’t matter if you can specifically trace it to the Disneyland outbreak, or if it was a different outbreak. Someone died because not enough people are getting the measles vaccine anymore.


    • Sue
      February 27, 2016 at 6:25 am #

      So this “Brooke” person doesn’t know much about the science of pregnancy or childbirth, or much about immunology, vaccine science or virology. And no embarrassment about parading the ignorance publicly. Strange.

  19. Charybdis
    February 26, 2016 at 1:00 pm #

    There’s a typo in the second sentence of #2: “unflective acceptance of authority” should be “unreflective acceptance of authority, I think.

    • Amy Tuteur, MD
      February 26, 2016 at 1:22 pm #

      Thanks! Fixed it.

  20. Nick Sanders
    February 26, 2016 at 12:53 pm #

    I remember, this was the article that brought me here. And it’s just as important now as the first time.

  21. crazy grad mama
    February 26, 2016 at 12:48 pm #

    So I’ve been on the right track all along by just making fun of them? Excellent.

  22. CSN0116
    February 26, 2016 at 12:46 pm #

    And legislation. Hard core legislation, literally prohibiting this behavior. We love to legislate and incarcerate in the US. Time to have fun with that trend 😀

    • Brooke
      February 26, 2016 at 1:28 pm #

      So you’re going to jail people who refuse to vaccinate? So much for bodily autonomy and personal liberty. Why don’t you just go burn the Constitution while you’re at it.

      • CSN0116
        February 26, 2016 at 1:36 pm #

        No, I’d jail and fine people for potentially inflicting bodily harm upon other innocent people via not vaccinating. And you give up bodily autonomy to live in a civilized society – seat belts, car seats, helmet laws, right to die/assisted suicide, illegal drug use, prostitution, etc. You don’t get to do whatever the fuck you want you want with your body.

        • Brooke
          February 26, 2016 at 1:50 pm #

          If you’re vaccinated you cannot get sick from an unvaccinated person.

          • momofone
            February 26, 2016 at 1:59 pm #

            Oh Brooke. You are just an expert on it all, aren’t you?

          • Nick Sanders
            February 26, 2016 at 2:09 pm #

            Truly, the only things she does not know are the limits of her own knowledge.

          • demodocus
            February 26, 2016 at 2:01 pm #

            Unless you’ve developed cancer since you were vaccinated or if you are in the small percentage for whom the vaccine (and the disease) doesn’t confer immunity. My sister has caught natural chicken pox 3 times. Before she got cancer.

          • Nick Sanders
            February 26, 2016 at 2:08 pm #

            Or AIDS, or needed an organ transplant, or have one of the many inherited immunodeficiencies…

          • demodocus
            February 26, 2016 at 2:24 pm #

            or be a newborn

          • Sullivan ThePoop
            February 26, 2016 at 3:28 pm #

            Or got measles and lost your immunity to other things you previously had immunity for.

          • StephanieA
            February 26, 2016 at 4:38 pm #

            I got chicken pox twice. Definitely happens!

          • Who?
            February 26, 2016 at 5:55 pm #

            I had mumps twice. Second time way worse than the first.

          • Jetske Goslinga
            February 26, 2016 at 2:04 pm #

            Brooke, your last assertion is so full of holes as to be laughable. Yes you absolutely can.
            A. If you are immunocompromised or are allergic to components of vaccines
            B. If you are too young to be vaccinated
            C. If you are one of the small percentage on whom the vaccine didn’t work (they are not 100% effective)
            So I guess you think that people who are being treated with anti-rejection drugs should just stay indoors away from society so as to avoid being exposed to somebody who chooses not to vaccinate because they are “crunchy”?

          • ladyloki
            February 26, 2016 at 2:13 pm #

            You are a Class-A idiot. My daughter is in remission from leukemia. She has zero immune system now, so people not vaccinating can KILL HER. They get sick, she gets sick, she has to have a week stay at the hospital. She had all her vaccinations, now they can do her no good.

          • The Bofa on the Sofa
            February 26, 2016 at 3:07 pm #

            Yeah, ladyloki, this is the thing that these folks don’t get. They don’t realize that these general statements actually refer to people.

            You understandably can take her comment as a personal attack on your daughter. She will deny it, but that’s what it is.

          • The Bofa on the Sofa
            February 26, 2016 at 2:43 pm #

            I hope I am too polite to criticize cotton as compared with curled hair,” said the King, “especially as you seem satisfied with it.”

          • Nick Sanders
            February 26, 2016 at 3:05 pm #

            Wow, out of context that sounds absolutely filthy.

          • Bombshellrisa
            February 26, 2016 at 3:17 pm #

            It totally does!
            I wish I could have started writing back a la Bofa. Originally I thought that I could simply reply “the cow says moo” but now I am thinking one stupid comment deserves another and I want to reply with stupid Yelp or Amazon reviews. You know the ones that complain that the product didn’t work unless you put in batteries.

          • Sullivan ThePoop
            February 26, 2016 at 3:33 pm #

            Speaking of Amazon reviews have you seen the ones for Haribo sugar free gummy bears?

          • Cartman36
            February 26, 2016 at 4:08 pm #

            Lol! One of the funniest things I have ever read!

          • Sullivan ThePoop
            February 26, 2016 at 6:33 pm #

            It left me thinking who do I know that deserves some of Satan’s bears

          • Bombshellrisa
            February 26, 2016 at 8:30 pm #

            Yes! My brother showed me and we were laughing so hard!

          • DelphiniumFalcon
            February 29, 2016 at 5:13 pm #

            Yes! I laughed so hard I had tears streaming down my face and my sides hurt for days after. I could barely breathe trying to read them to my husband. It was a hell of an ab workout.

          • Monkey Professor for a Head
            February 26, 2016 at 4:16 pm #

            Well vaccines are very effective but not 100% – and no, before you say it, that does not mean they’re worthless. Also some people are not able to be vaccinated – the very young, the immunocompromised etc. And if someone is immunocompromised, their previous vaccines may no longer be effective.

            That’s why herd immunity is so important. If enough people are vaccinated, then the chances of someone who cannot be vaccinated coming into contact with a vaccine preventable disease is very low.

            If I was exposed to measles, for example, as a healthy vaccinated young woman I would likely be alright. But I don’t just care about myself. I care about my son who is too young for mmr. I care about my pregnant asthmatic friend. I care about all the people who are undergoing treatment for cancer, people who have had organ transplants, people with autoimmune conditions who are on immunosuppressive medications. I care about people with haematological disorders and those with cystic fibrosis and those with AIDS. You should be ashamed of yourself.

          • Sue
            February 27, 2016 at 6:28 am #

            IN anti-vax land, < 100% can only mean 0%.

          • Liz Leyden
            February 26, 2016 at 4:21 pm #

            Unless the vaccine doesn’t “take”, which is surprisingly common. I had to be re-vaccinated for Hep B

          • Gatita
            February 26, 2016 at 6:00 pm #

            Hep B is a tough one. I worked at a med school and if a student’s vaccine didn’t take after three attempts we just gave up.

          • Dr Kitty
            February 27, 2016 at 7:41 am #

            And then there are people like me who are still immune almost 20 years after the original 3 doses of Hep B vaccine. I got my titres done recently and occupational health had booked me in for a booster, and then phoned me to say I didn’t need one after all.

          • Azuran
            February 26, 2016 at 4:32 pm #

            What about people who cannot receive the vaccine either because they are too young, immunocompromised or allergic?

          • The Bofa on the Sofa
            February 26, 2016 at 5:11 pm #


            That’s the attitude of many, that’s for sure.

          • FrequentFlyer
            February 27, 2016 at 12:46 pm #

            Obviously the allergic and immunocompromised (like me) are weak and unworthy. If we get sick and die that’s just Mother Nature culling her herd. Getting sick would be a baby’s first test of worthiness. The ones who die didn’t deserve to live anyway. Isn’t that what antivaxxers believe, even if they won’t say it?

          • Gatita
            February 26, 2016 at 5:55 pm #

            Remember what I said yesterday about the stupidest fucking thing Brooke’s ever said? https://nscene.files.wordpress.com/2015/04/new_challenger_approaching.jpg

          • Who?
            February 26, 2016 at 5:57 pm #

            It must be terribly wearing, knowing everything about everything.

          • Rachele Willoughby
            February 27, 2016 at 2:27 am #

            I knew everything about everything once. Then I moved out and got a job.

          • Who?
            February 27, 2016 at 2:58 am #

            Perhaps Brooke has yet to go through that bracing experience.

          • The Bofa on the Sofa
            February 27, 2016 at 3:48 pm #

            Remember that’s my hypothesis : she is a high school student studying for her SAT

          • mythsayer
            February 26, 2016 at 11:14 pm #

            NO! Just NO! You should know better. As you said (one of the few things you’ve said that’s true), vaccines are not perfect. They CAN fail. But since there’s herd immunity, you don’t know whose vaccine took and whose didn’t because (gasp) the ones that did take are preventing the illness from taking hold.

            I used to think you were just kind of dumb and hypocritical. Now I’m not at all sure you’re not actually just trolling for fun. Because you’re saying piles of inconsistent things.

          • Who?
            February 26, 2016 at 11:37 pm #

            Anti-vaxxers crave certainty-they are sold promise after promise about what woo du jour they can buy to protect themselves; others understand that nothing is certain, and that the best laid plans can go wrong.

            Saying that not all vaccines ‘take’ is a massive criticism in the eyes of anti-vaxxers: to the rest of us, it is just an acknowledgement that life is, at times, not all smooth sailing.

          • moto_librarian
            February 29, 2016 at 12:00 pm #

            Whelp, there it is. The dumbest fucking thing I’ve read on the internet all day. Thanks Brooke.

          • Jenny Higgs
            March 28, 2016 at 8:49 pm #

            Too young, the medically exempt and don’t be so dumb as to fall for a Nirvana fallacy.

        • Jenny Higgs
          March 28, 2016 at 8:48 pm #

          And anti-drunk-driving laws.

      • momofone
        February 26, 2016 at 1:42 pm #

        I’m with CSN011 on the bodily harm, and I’m beyond glad I live in a state that won’t let them enroll their children in school (one of the few things we do well).

        And since you mentioned it, are you also an expert on the Constitution? Where DO you find the time?!

      • indigosky
        February 26, 2016 at 2:11 pm #

        Ha, this is rich coming from the person who wants to force women to breastfeed and shames women for their C-Sections. Where’s your love of bodily autonomy there, you hypocrite?

      • The Bofa on the Sofa
        February 26, 2016 at 2:42 pm #

        “You have relieved my mind of a great anxiety,” declared the Patchwork Girl, now speaking more cheerfully. “The Scarecrow is stuffed with straw and you with hair, so I am still the Original and Only Cotton-Stuffed!”

      • guest
        February 26, 2016 at 8:14 pm #

        If the Constitution were making people sick, I would most certainly compel it to vaccinate.

    • Sullivan ThePoop
      February 26, 2016 at 3:24 pm #

      I don’t think we should put people in jail or take their children away for this issue. I do think that schools should not allow unvaccinated children and if you start an outbreak you should foot the entirety of the bill. Oh, and just one more thing. The measles component of MMR is dam near 100% effective after 2 doses.

      • Jenny Higgs
        March 28, 2016 at 8:36 pm #


        I think that public schools should be required to only allow medical exemptions.

        As far as I am concerned …for the less contagious diseases…private schools can figure it out themselves.

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